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Sep 29 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 9/25/17

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Genesis & KerBalloon Return to Full Operations

After deferring much of their missions so that Progenitor could launch these past two weeks, Genesis & KerBalloon got back into action in full force this past week with two 1hr+ Civvie flights and 4 balloon launches.

Specialists Bill & Bob worked hard to ensure that all balloon missions were a success, although Bob had most of the work considering three of the four were launched and recovered at sea. Of the four balloons released two were high-altitude and two were low-altitude variants. The high-altitude missions as usual were subject to weather conditions, and the land mission had the added constraint of having to launch at sunset, which is the main reason why it took longer to complete than the sea mission that could release at anytime the weather was good. Since Bob’s mission was done first, while Bill was still waiting for good weather Bob was able to help crews assemble the two low-altitude balloons for launch from the Kerblantic the following day. Winds were out of the west, which meant that Bill was not needed with his Utility Task Vehicle crews on land to recover the balloons, which drifted out to sea. Both the first and second launches were carried out in the same day cycle thanks to their release locations being so close together. Now that their backlog is cleared out, KerBalloon will spend the first half of next week negotiating new contracts.

Commander Valentina took on both of this week’s Civvie missions as Captain Jebediah continued to recover from his accident last week, although we are happy to report that starting on Monday he will be cleared to return to active duty. The first mission at the start of this week for the Civvie was ordered up by the field science division in order to see how the Negative Gravioli instrument would perform close to the surface of Kerbin. As expected, results showed that the instrument is not sensitive enough to changes in gravity so deep in the field of a large planet and will continue to only be deployed in space or upper-atmospheric missions. The second mission today at the end of this week was also ordered in part by the field research division given the rise in pollen to levels near that of the health incident that occurred earlier this year. Scientists wanted to see just how widespread the pollen was around the Grasslands and also how high it was being borne into the atmosphere. This was originally scheduled to take place yesterday but C7 delayed the mission to negotiate a second contract, without informing the researchers, who were understandably furious given that their mission was considered time-sensitive – who knew if pollen levels would remain high the following day? Thankfully (well, maybe not so much for everyone who had to work outdoors at KSC while wearing filtration masks) the air quality remained poor early today for the mission to be carried out with the additional contract as well.

Deuce Status Update

Investigation into the Deuce accident proceeds apace, with the engines brought up from almost a kilometer of water and the air frame continuing to be inspected to determine how much of the aircraft has to be scrapped. More telemetry analysis was completed and its safe to say the pitch problems have been solved with the latest redesign, as this image proves when comparing the choppy flight paths of the two most recent flights before & after the redesign. Despite the development troubles, C7 has confirmed it is committed to seeing the Deuce fly properly & is confident the roll issue will be the last major hurdle.

Extremis Trajectories Behind Schedule

The astrodynamics team has fallen behind schedule in computing the possible new trajectories for our Extremis probes, the first of which could be launching as early as the end of next year. Although we had missions roughly plotted as early as late 2016, several advances in our understanding of orbital mechanics have been applied to our planning software and the team decided to re-run possibilities two months ago. The major hurdle being cited since then is processing time in looking for good flyby routes being much longer than anticipated. The team is now spending this upcoming month focusing solely on our 2018-2019 launch window for the first mission, as we would like an idea of the deltaV requirements needed to get the probe on its way so our orbital program has a rocket that is powerful enough. This means that although we hoped to announce our orbital program in October, it will now have to wait until early November. We don’t currently see this delay as having a major impact on the first launch yet.

Airports Announced for Sheltered Rock & Ockr

Two more of the three remaining cities will receive surface airports to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft such as the Civvie and Deuce. C7 Aerospace has been working closely with both governments to raise funds and lay out locations suitable not just for the current airport design but for expansion later on. Similar to Kravass General Airport these will be single-runway affairs to begin with. What about Umbarg? Well it’s always been a city heavily dependent on airship manufacturing and is headquarters to the largest airship companies so it is by nature not very eager to hop onto the fixed-wing bandwagon. It also doesn’t have much available land in the area. Due to its flat location compared to the mountains of the other cities, it has numerous cavern exits straight up to the surface from its multitude of airship hangars (one of which we plan to rent for our own airship). C7 has approached KSC/KSA to possibly use our facilities to handle any traffic to Umbarg but this is still under discussion. C7’s Kravass manufacturing plant has so far shipped 19 Civvies since May and plans to finally begin stepping up production, going from 4 to 6 per month starting in October and then as many as 10-12 per month in 2018. They don’t expect to meet initial demand until sometime in 2019 and by then kerbs will definitely need more than one airport to go to!

Both Sheltered Rock & Ockr airfields are set to break ground next month and open at the start of 2018.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,004 asteroids, 14 updates and 1 alert issued for JJP-868(C), which will impact our atmosphere on 10/24 but current projections place it over water and will be updated when it enters our SOI on 10/22. Also, congratulations to the ATN for breaking 1,000 discovered asteroids in its first year of operations! What does 1,000+ asteroids look like? We’ll show you on the ATN’s anniversary this weekend.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Tekto is a highly-inclined moon of Sarnus which means it does not cast its shadow on the planet with every revolution of its 7.7 day orbit like Slate & Eeloo do. Starting this month its orbit has begun to cross between the sun and Sarnus, dropping its shadow atop the north pole of the gas giant. Over the next 10 months the shadow will slowly work its way down to the south pole and in mid-July 2018 Tekto will once again no longer cast shadows on Sarnus for a time. Commander Valentina got this photo from her scope this week, showing the second time Tekto’s shadow crossed Sarnus. She’ll take another look in a few days after we reach opposition with the ringed planet.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 9/28/17

Uugghhhhh this is posting tomorrow. I was hoping by now I would be well into next week! However although fall temperatures are slow to arrive this year (global warming anyone?) seasonal allergies are right on schedule and while I have great over the counter meds I’m still tired more than not. Also this week was way busier than I planned for it to be, but I couldn’t really come up with any good excuse for it not to be so busy as it made sense that Genesis & KerBalloon would have a lot of things to catch up on after Progenitor stole the show most of the month. Thankfully this means things can finally start to slow up a bit next week. Good lord this is already a long ass weekly recap so let me just get the rest over with.

ABU-633(C)

The fact that this was passing through Mun’s SOI wasn’t the only thing that mattered in its discovery – the area of Kerbin currently populated also had to be facing Mun at the time and Mun had to be on its night side. This was the second encounter by the asteroid meaning it was already in orbit and undiscovered for a short while. Just because an asteroid gets captured into orbit doesn’t mean I’m going to make it be discovered. Are there any more in orbit now? Have there been any more? You may never know, but you can know that maybe there are.

Broken flaps

I made a goof on the week’s first Civvie flight and forgot to fully raise my flaps only to realize it like an hour into the mission, so I wrote it as them being stuck. This actually turned a rather routine Civvie flight into something more interesting to read about IMO. Yea I’d like to say I have these great ideas before hand but in reality lots of things just come from me being stupid. Not bad eh?

Tree pollen

Okay but if you thought the broken flaps was good, the other Civvie mission this week was just pure gold. I decided to bring back the pollen health issue from earlier this year just because my own allergies were acting up. After I wrote that the game handed me a mission for air sampling right in the middle of the Grasslands so I immediately thought “hey they wanted to sample the air for pollen counts!” Then I decided to delay it for another contract the game offered me and realized the scientists would be pissed so that was some more content I could tweet. Finally flying the mission I forgot I wanted to step-climb the air samples by making a complete 7km orbit at 1km, then do two more complete circles while holding 2km and 3km ASL. So I wrote in the storm as an excuse to have Val fly in a continuous climb (after trying to hold a level 1km at the start) to save time and land before the bad weather. Then I was like “oh hey the rain will affect the pollen maybe”.

That’s just the broad strokes in a totally organic plot line made up of a past plot point, my real world situation, the game’s RNG and my own stupidity. BRILLIANT!!!

1 year tweet review

Another reason I’m not as far back to building my lead time as I wanted to be is due to taking almost two days (while still getting at least a day of ops done) to re-read through all 5.5k tweets I’ve published since last Sept. This review was so I could determine how well the overall plot and progression have held up over time. The result: really damn good. I did uncover a few very minor plots that needed a bit of resolution, most of which I addressed this past week, and I also added a section to my text document of all the tweets that could be considered ongoing plot points so I don’t lose track of them and make sure to bring them back up every now and again. Overall though reading from start to finish I did not find anything extremely contradictory or divergent and the steady pace of progress is strongly evident. I did find two minor inconsistencies – the first was the Civvie originally being able to communicate over the horizon like I do with airships and maritime vessels, whereas now I make a point of saying the Civvie will be out of touch when it drops below the horizon. Over-horizon comms can take a good deal of power though so my explanation if anyone were to notice and ask about it would be that after the Civvie got its advanced instruments it no longer had the available power output to transmit over the horizon, only line of sight. The second minor nag would be that I specified the daylight launch window for the Progeny rockets originally as 45min after sunrise 1hr before sunset and later on it was written as 30min after sunrise 45min before sunset. I could cover that by saying that experience has allowed us to lengthen our window. Anyways, it’s good to know as I work towards my grand over-arching goals for the KSA I can still keep all the minor stuff flowing rather well also.

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