Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

Feb 15 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 2/11/19

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Feb 15 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 9 Analysis

Launching back at the start of this week after being delayed for several days the latest flight of the Progeny Mk6 Block I saw a return to successful mission outcome after carrying material and biological samples through the inner radiation belt. The cause for the delay was thanks to the Monolith, which appeared to be able to generate a strong localized electrical storm. We believe at this time the storms are a response to us sending a rocket outside the planet’s magnetosphere. Although it did not directly damage the rocket thanks to the Ascension service towers serving as lightning rods, it still prevented the launch from occurring. Several attempts were made to bring the countdown to L-0 before finally just waiting for the storm to run out of energy. Lead Scientist Cheranne’s team has spent the past week working with meteorologists on examining the properties of the storm and coming up with a possible means of preventing it for future launches.

The Flight

Once the rocket was finally able to be launched, an issue occurred right at the moment of lift off when the mission script thought the rocket had landed, cutting off all telemetry data being sent to Launch Control and being logged onto the rocket’s hard drive. Controllers were still able to use the Tracking Station and the range vessel to follow the flight via RADAR to gain basic information about the rocket’s status and the Range Safety Officer was able to maintain visual in the early ascent thanks to clear skies so the self-destruct was not activated. Because controllers did not want to risk crashing the computer during ascent, it was not until tracking reported MECO that they began to work on an instruction patch that would re-enable the data logging.

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Feb 12 2019

Ascension Mk1 Block I Flight 3 Analysis

After two failed attempts at orbit, the Ascension team was preparing for a third try when the decision was made to pivot away from achieving orbit and instead focus on sub-orbital flight to prepare for sending a kerbal up in the finalized capsule design still undergoing certification testing. With this in mind the team used the new Launch Vehicle Designer (LVD) from ArrowstarTech to develop a trajectory similar to our orbital flight attempts but designed to bring the capsule (or in this case the capsule test object) down over the waters just east of Ockr. This would allow for the maximum amount of time in space while still splashing down to avoid any dangerous terrain or higher elevations and remaining close to support assets. The third flight of the Ascension Mk1 was tasked with following this ascent profile and performing various technology tests while in space.

The Flight

Part of the mission design called for the Mk1 tanks to not be fully fueled so the engines could burn all the way to exhaustion and allow the rocket to remain on trajectory without having to vent fuel in space or have a fuel-laden tank drop back down to Kerbin. The first attempt at a wet dress rehearsal after the rocket was installed on the pad failed due to the pumps in the service towers not onloading gas fast enough for the rocket to pressurize the greater empty space in the tanks in the scant seconds leading up to ignition. This led to a day’s delay as the problem was sorted out.

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Feb 09 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 9 Launch Update

It has been a long and frustrating day thanks to the Monolith creating difficult launch conditions. Why it’s doing this we are still unsure, although the current suspicion is it has to do with how far out into space we sent our last rocket. How it’s doing this we also don’t exactly know, although we did prove today that it cannot create and maintain a storm indefinitely. Storms require energy, in this case heat, and perhaps if we didn’t have the monolith within a structure it could use its own energy to inject heat into the air but as it is now it can only draw on existing heat. As temperatures have dropped the storm weakened and eventually completely broke down, leading to calm surface conditions. However the air in the upper atmosphere remains disturbed and we don’t know how long it will take to settle down. In the meantime though our crews have been at it for over 12 hours now and need some rest.

The rocket will remain fueled and powered up. If we power it off the Monolith with likely stop trying to generate a storm, heat energy will return to the area and if we make another launch attempt several hours from now it will likely get blocked again. This means though that the rocket will need to remain under monitoring, even if it is not armed. At 03:00 UTC half of the launch control team will go off console for a 4 hour rest break while the remainder keep an eye on the rocket. At 07:00 UTC the crews will swap and those going off console will get a 6 hour rest break. At 13:00 UTC all controllers will be back on console and we will send up another balloon to see how the upper atmosphere is doing. By 14:30 UTC we will have a better idea of conditions high above and decide whether it makes sense to continue attempting a launch.

There has been some additional speculation regarding the Monolith’s choice of tactics in stalling our launch. We know it is capable of producing an electromagnetic field that could reach the launch pad and Launch Control and be far more effective at disabling our operations. Those thinking this may have forgotten that scientists have already accepted that the EM field was not an offensive weapon. Also, generating the field again would likely require more energy than the Monolith could handle given it no longer has access to the power stations in nearby Kravass and Umbarg. Again, the storm could possibly be maintained longer or indefinitely if the Monolith had direct access to the outside air, so we may have just been lucky that we built an insulated dome around it.

Feb 08 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 2/4/19

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Feb 06 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block II Flight 2 Analysis

Ever since the Block I outperformed all expectations and flew into the region of space we expected to use the Block II to reach, this rocket hasn’t been able to find a good use in our launch lineup which is why this is only the second launch since it was first conceived back in late 2017. The mission however was well-suited to our most powerful rocket to date, which was to go as far out into space as possible to gather new radiation data and look for a second radiation belt. In addition to building on the previous radiation discoveries, an additional mission goal was to test new hibernation technology to extend the vessel’s battery life long enough to last a mission that could take several hours.

The Flight

The rocket had a clean launch, leaving the mounting base without impacting the support rail while firing on all 5 solid rocket motors for a total initial thrust output of 214kN, producing just over 6Gs of force to keep it pointed downrange as the nose began to lower and the fixed fin angles began to spin the rocket up. The main difference between the Block II and Block I are the 4 radial boosters that accelerate the larger and heavier Block II rocket up to speeds comparable to a Block I. They burn from 5-6 seconds before being discarded. During the first flight, the booster separation led to an impact with two of the large lower fins thanks to the decouplers throwing them away with enough force to remain lateral to the rocket. The solution was simply to let them drop away on their own by force of the rocket’s speed and spin. All four boosters made a clean separation although the rocket exhaust did scatter them and actually flung one back far enough to impact the Ascension service towers! Thankfully no major damage was done.

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Feb 01 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 1/28/19

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Jan 25 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 1/21/19

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Jan 22 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 8 Analysis

After the failure of the previous mission, the payload canisters were redesigned and built to stronger specifications. In addition to being able to withstand greater pressures and heat, the doors of the containment units were able to indicate to Mission Control whether or not they were properly sealed. If indeed the failure of the payload was the cause of the re-entry breakup then this time we had everything covered to help ensure a successful mission. Unfortunately this second attempt was delayed over 5 months thanks mainly to the Monolith EM field. After an initial delay due to weather, we were finally able to launch last week. The mission was successful in proving the Mystery Goo units could now survive re-entry however the payload itself was not able to be recovered, ultimately causing this mission to be labeled another failure.

The Flight

It was a nominal ascent to space, the newly-refactored AFCS functioning perfectly as it staged the rocket out of the atmosphere. Once in space the lower Goo unit cycled open to expose the sample to normal levels of radiation in low space. Once past 350km and nearing the known lower edge of the radiation belt, the Goo units switched, with the top one now being exposed the entire duration in which the rocket was inside the belt. The payload reached an apokee of 507km, 12km higher than the previous flight, before plummeting back towards the atmosphere. Once out of the radiation belt the lower canister was once again exposed while the upper one sealed shut and indicated to Mission Control that it was in fact locked. At 90km the lower canister also indicated it had properly closed and locked.

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Jan 18 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 1/14/19

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