Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

Feb 12 2021

Operations Summary – Weeks of 2/1 & 2/8/21

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Jan 29 2021

Operations Summary – Weeks of 1/18 & 1/25/21

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Jan 28 2021

Progeny Mk6 Block II Flight 4 Analysis

The Block II was brought back into service after what was thought to be its final flight back in 2019 in order to carry up some payloads for the Kerbal Sounding Project. While 4 Mk6 Block I rockets handled the launch of KSP instruments in 2019, this past year’s program wanted to give the student builders the opportunity to send their designs higher than before aboard the Block II. Despite the buyout of USI enough surplus parts remained to construct the rocket and the new owner Luciole was able to produce more on demand if needed – which was good because it was needed when during wet dress rehearsal an equipment malfunction on the fuel truck caused an explosion that damaged the rocket.

The mission was pushed into this year while new solid rocket motors were manufactured to replace the ones that were damaged by shrapnel. Thankfully the final stage was high enough to escape harm as that would have been more costly and time-consuming to replace. Once repaired it was rolled out again, WDR this time went without a hitch and favorable weather on launch day posed no further delays.

The Flight

It was a beautiful night to again see this rocket soar up into the sky with a huge tail of flame shooting out from the 5 solid rocket motors that had ignited to push it off the pad with 135kN of thrust at 6Gs, keeping the nose high. The 4 radial boosters burned out after only 6s and fell away cleanly as the core booster continued to burn and accelerate the rocket through Mach 1 less than 10s into the flight. The sonic boom rippled across the grounds at KSC.

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Jan 22 2021

Kerbin II Mission Analysis

In the months following our first orbital mission, which came very close to failing, lots of work was done on the Ascension Mk2 to make it more capable of reaching orbit. The result was a success on our second attempt, which placed the Kerbin II satellite into a stable and nearly circular orbit 191x228km@26° above Kerbin. Now that the hardest part of the mission was done, it was time to begin our first long-term operation of a spacecraft on orbit.

The Mission

The main goals of the mission in addition to telecom testing was just to see how the spacecraft fared over several weeks in space, in regards to things such as wear on its equipment to the stability of its orbit. It was equipped with two main antennas that each by themselves could get a strong signal to the ground for the transmission of science & telecom data and a tertiary backup antenna which could get enough of a signal to send & receive commands. This meant that potential loss of the satellite due to communications issues was unlikely. The probe core was constructed better than that of Kerbin I so although it remained a single point of failure it was at least robust. Whether the science instruments would last several weeks of space radiation exposure was also a question. Finally, scientists were still unsure if the 70km boundary to the atmosphere was “hard” or “fuzzy” – could an orbit remain stable or was there enough drag to gradually bring a spacecraft back down into the more well-defined atmosphere?

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Jan 15 2021

Operations Summary – Weeks of 1/4 & 1/11/21

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Dec 18 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 12/7 & 12/14/20

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Dec 04 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 11/23 & 11/30/20

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Nov 20 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 11/9 & 11/16/20

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Nov 19 2020

Progeny Mk7-B Flight 4 Analysis

With all three previous missions failing for different reasons, the fourth and final planned mission for the Mk7-B received new objectives in the hope that this mission would be successful at last. The first change was to swap out the new booster for one that had been refurbished from a previous flight, which necessitated a launch delay that pushed the date back from 10/20 to 10/29. This booster was from the second Mk7-B flight back in late August and would be the first time we attempt to re-fly an engine. On the opposite end of the rocket we swapped out the parachute nose cone for a payload fairing that encapsulated a new Luciole smallsat prototype. This would be deployed onto the sub-orbital trajectory to test its systems and reaction wheels. Recovery would be of only the first stage booster and RTG casing from the payload, which did not contain any radioactive material for this mission. Other than the delay for booster integration, no problems occurred in the lead-up to launch.

The Flight

After good retraction of the support arms at T-5s the Boostertron II solid rocket motor successfully ignited for an on-time launch at 13:45 local, pushing the rocket upwards off the pad with an initial force of 3.3Gs while the fins actuated to begin rolling the rocket from 90° towards 34°. Less than 2 seconds after launch it had spun enough to allow pitch-over to begin as well, with the flight computer guiding it along a gradual and constant change rate throughout the ascent. By L+10s the rocket had locked onto its heading and thrust from the SRB had already begun to taper off from its max 74kN to reduce loads on the rocket as it approached Mach 1.

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Nov 12 2020

Progeny Mk7-B Flight 3 Analysis

A pause after the first two launches was required to not only build the final two rockets but also to launch the second Ascension Mk2, which required a pad reconfiguration. The pad was setup again afterwards to support Mk7-B launches and the third rocket was trucked out to the pad to perform its mission, which we hoped would finally see the rocket on a high sub-orbital trajectory with a successful hot staging to avoid losing speed on ascent. While the launch date did not change, the rocket’s new 0.625m SRB was swapped out for a refurbished SRB to test under flight conditions for the first time after making it through two static fires.

The Flight

No delays occurred during pre-launch preparations and everything was looking good for an on-time lift off when a hold was called from the weather desk just 8 seconds prior to T-0. The mountain wave sensors were tripped and due to the high instability of the rocket without its support arms a hold had to be called before they were retracted at T-5s. No gusts were recorded at KSC in the following minutes however and after some more checking on the weather data it was determined to be a false alarm and the countdown was reset to T-2min with a new launch time of 18:00 local. The hold was released 29 minutes after it was called. T-0 arrived without further incident, all four support arms retracted properly and the Boostertron II first stage was successfully ignited to begin the ascent.

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