Aug 11 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 8/7/17

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Progeny Mk4 Program Completed

With the fifth launch this past week we are closing out the Mk4 program and directing all of our attention on the Mk5. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the final launch still provided us with valuable data that will be useful to the Mk5 program. After review of data collected during the brief 17s mission it’s been determined the primary cause of failure was the low TWR, which was unable to keep the rocket pointed downrange as lift at the nose brought it about to 87° pitch west, carrying it up over KSC. After the 1st stage was expended, the entire rocket was blown up via the Flight Termination System command sent by the Range Safety Officer after confirming the rocket’s course with Guidance and receiving the order to terminate from Flight Director Lanalye, who had a brief consultation with Operations Director Drew Kerman. Running out the first stage reduced the size of the explosion and limited debris raining down towards spectators, but it also allowed us to see how fast the rocket would be accelerated – it stayed below 40kPa. How this data will be applied to the Mk5 program is still under review, the Progenitor team expects to release a report next week. We can say at this time that the first Mk5 launch will not occur until early September, however we do plan to launch all 5 initial rockets in a cadence similar to the last two Mk4s.

Have a look also at a video comparison of the three last Mk4 launches that allow you to see how TWR affects the rocket at launch.

Deuce Rebuild Complete, Trials to Resume Next Week

The Deuce has finished its reconstruction in the Horizontal Assembly Building, sporting its new tail design. C7 engineers have also tweaked down the control inputs for the elevators and ailerons so not only will the aircraft be more stable but control should be more subtle as well. Commander Valentina will put the aircraft through its paces on the ground similar to its first ground trials next Monday while Captain Jebediah plans to be busy with a scheduled Civvie mission that was delayed multiple times this week due to weather. Assuming all goes well after a day or so of data analysis & mechanical checkouts from the ground trials Jeb will once again take the aircraft up to see if flight performance meets engineer expectations. If this is the case, further flights by both Jeb and Val will continue to push the aircraft’s limits to attempt to identify and address any remaining design flaws.

KerBalloon Mission Marathons See Success

Both missions run this week on Monday and Wednesday by the KerBalloon team, including Specialists Bill and Bob, were 12+ hour affairs that saw combined use of land and sea assets due to the launch locations being so close to the water. Prevailing winds out of the west would usually guarantee a sea recovery after the launch, so a Maritime Service Vessel should have been all that was needed for both missions, however we still don’t fully understand upper-atmosphere air currents and the chance that the balloons could drift back over land had to be accounted for which is why Utility Task Vehicles launched the balloons. As usual, with these contracts completed the KerBalloon program is already evaluating several new proposals for next week.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 857 asteroids, 15 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Although it didn’t turn out to be lucky, it was still nice to capture an eclipse with a rocket on the launch pad for the first time. Moho and then Sarnus are visible above the sun, with Eve down near the horizon.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 7/27/17

The heat beat me back again, and I lost several days of lead time and then several more due to other IRL stuff and so I’ve finally broken down and bought a small portable air conditioner that should be more than enough for my 120ft2 office space when the temperatures start to rise again (has been in the 70s these past few days and it’s been glorious). I’ll probably report in the next Desk Notes how the new unit fares.

KB mission mistake a real “oopsie”

Finding out the coordinates were wrong for the first KB mission this past week wasn’t a plot device, that was me actually noting the wrong coordinates and not realizing it until I was writing out the mission events. Still, made for a bit of an interesting twist to the start of things and also turned out the original shortlink to the incorrect location was made using “bodyup.asp” which was how I accessed the Flight Tracker when it was “down” for the Monolith Incident. So I needed to make a new shortcode anyways and didn’t have to worry about needing to use the same URL.

Mk4 final launch

I was originally planning to make this launch fail, and did some research into how the lower-stage booster could end up getting plugged or something due to a manufacturing defect – I wanted to show it flame out like 3 seconds after launch and then – pause – and the entire thing blows up a second later. But I couldn’t find any compelling evidence out there that this would happen, and I also remembered this launch might fail on its own anyways if the rocket ends up flipping over – which it did although not completely, just far enough to begin heading west instead of east.

I originally had the launch rehearsal scheduled before the buffer time, but then I realized it makes no sense to have a rehearsal if the range monitoring and recovery ships are not yet in place.

I spent almost 20min trying to figure out how the Mk4 gained 15kg over the previous one when I didn’t add any heavier science instruments – it should have lost weight. Then I looked again at the masses and realized USI instruments were 0.02t and not 0.002t like I had thought. Idiot.

I still used game weather to decide conditions for launch, but I did roll the dice in my favor by setting a single cloud layer very high up and not adding additional layers.

It took me two launches again because somehow for the first launch I setup to launch an hour later than I should have *headdesk*

finally, the launch video comparison between the 3 launches might be a teeny bit off, but I don’t think it’s noticeable. Even with some settings that didn’t affect the quality of the launches turned down, the game was still running with a yellow clock. Thankfully I had PhysicalTimeRatioViewer to tell me exactly how slow the game was running so that I could speed up the video accordingly.

3D orbital figures in the Flight Tracker

Yesssssssssss! Finally! It wasn’t all that hard to get working once I figured out all the annoying nuances of working with GeoGebra’s desktop application (much obscenities were screamed) and also the documentation to get it embedded was a bit lacking causing me to request help in their support forums, but in the end I got it all sorted and it is everything I ever wanted. Very happy. Massive thanks again to Syntax over in the KSP forums for mathing out everything. The only major hurdle left is figuring out how to show hyperbolic orbits. GeoGebra has a hyperbola function, but using it isn’t as simple as I would like.

Now that this is working and I have it setup in a way to know how I would like to dynamically load data into it, I can finally start work on my refactoring of the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster… once I catch back up to 3 weeks lead time. Oh, the never-ending toil!

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