Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

Oct 24 2019

KSA Suffers Deadly Attack on Kerbed Space Mission

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Earlier this week during the pre-launch operations leading up to the 3rd kerbed space mission, at approximately 16:17 UTC after tanking operations had completed and pre-flight was well underway, a Deuce aircraft came gliding in out of the darkness and slammed into the rocket. The impact was almost right in the center of the fuel tank by the aircraft’s outer left wing, causing a huge explosion. The aircraft was spun flatly around and slammed into the ground about a dozen meters away where its own fuel tanks crumpled and exploded as well. As soon at the wing penetrated the rocket fuel tank exterior however, this severed the continuity wires and triggered the automated Launch Abort System, firing the rockets in the escape tower atop the capsule to send it up and away from the resulting explosion. The chutes deployed shortly afterwards and the capsule landed hard but without injury to the occupant, Captain Jebediah, roughly 800m from the launch pad, which had gradually become engulfed in a raging ground fire as fuel and oxidizer continued to burn off. Emergency crews rushed to the scene in order to help rescue any survivors of the launch pad crew that were still working during the explosion but were unable to get close enough to fight the fire and found no one on the periphery. The 12 dead pad workers is the greatest loss of life on a KSA mission to date.

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Oct 18 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 10/14/19

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Oct 11 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 10/7/19

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Oct 10 2019

Progeny Mk7-A Flight 2 Analysis

After the failure of the first flight earlier this year, the Mk7 project was mostly shelved as a stand-alone endeavor to develop an orbital small-sat launcher and had to wait until it could provide more use to future Ascension designs before enough reason existed to attempt another mission. In addition to making a second attempt at testing the steerable guidance fins, gimbaling engine and reaction wheel control system from the first mission, a new payload fairing system was introduced along with a test version of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator that we intended to crash into Kerbin so its casing could be tested.

The Flight

Although everything went smoothly during pre-launch operations a storm system out to sea made the weather over KSC inhospitable to rocket flight even though it was expected to improve by launch time. Forecasting is still a bit of a dark art and so we were forced to hold just outside of the final countdown at L-30 minutes and wait to see if conditions would become more receptive to launch before the end of the day cycle. Due to not needing to immediately recover the payload from the water we had no problems launching at night except for the fact that this rocket design is still new and we wanted good visual tracking conditions which meant at least some daylight. If we couldn’t launch before sunset we would have been forced to scrub for the day cycle.

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Oct 04 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 9/30/19

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Oct 01 2019

Ascension Mk1 Flight 9 Analysis

The next kerbed mission would see Commander Valentina become the second kerbal to venture up into space. Lessons learned both from Specialists Bill’s flight and the more recent unkerbed Mk1 mission were applied to the mission planning to make this the most on-target ascent to date for the Ascension Mk1. In the weeks leading up to the launch Val and her backup crew member Captain Jebediah trained together for the mission and in the days leading up to the launch they both were sequestered inside the Astronaut Complex as per the quarantine protocol that was established with the first kerbed mission. This once again helped to ensure the astronauts remained healthy, allowed medical doctors to draw baseline observations and gave both crew some much-needed downtime. Come launch day, both were refreshed and ready. Jeb remained suited up on standby while Val boarded the capsule and was ultimately not required to replace her for the mission as pre-launch operations proceeded smoothly.

The Flight

The scheduled launch time was met with a good ignition of the K2-X lifter engine, producing 125kN of thrust to push the rocket gently off the pad at 1.2 TWR, taking 3 seconds to rise up and clear the service towers before throttling up to near full thrust to hold a TWR of 1.65 for a comfortable ascent. At this time also the guidance routine kicked in to roll the rocket on a heading of 54° while beginning to pitch over and head downrange. Aboard, Val was dutifully calling out regular readings from her instruments so ground controllers could ensure that everything was operating correctly.

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Sep 27 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 9/23/19

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Sep 20 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 9/16/19

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Sep 13 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 9/9/19

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Sep 12 2019

Ascension Mk1 Flight 8 Analysis

Now that we have the ability to launch actual kerbals into space, the unkerbed capsule no longer had to be a testbed for kerbed flight and was stripped of its control console and life support system. This made the interior much more spacious and capable of holding larger science equipment. Furthermore the hatch was modified so that it could be remotely opened and closed, which allowed for instruments inside the capsule to directly sample the space environment. We put this to good use in testing three of the Exremis probe instruments that had yet to see actual flight conditions: the magnetometer (mag), radio & plasma wave science (RPWS) and gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS). The RPWS and GRS were installed inside the capsule on a rotating column so each could be faced out the open door in turn over the course of the mission. The mag boom was originally supposed to go inside as well but miscommunication between the scientists & Ascension engineers meant it was built too large. Thankfully its slim profile while folded allowed it to be mounted externally on the fuel tank without too much fear of it being ripped off during ascent.

The Flight

On the day of the originally-scheduled launch, our recovery vessel MSV Aldeny radioed through the Ockr relay that conditions at the planned landing zone were too poor for safe operations. It was later forced to move off station entirely to find calmer waters and was not able to return until the end of the day. Thankfully conditions continued to remain good into the following day and although they slightly degraded here at KSC preparations were still undertaken to attempt a launch.

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