Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

Oct 09 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 9/28 & 10/5/20

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Sep 29 2020

Progeny Mk7-B Flight 2 Analysis

Hot on the heels of the first launch, the second mission was set to rectify several issues that ended up leading to a mission failure. Although the modifications needed for the rocket were made in time for an on-schedule launch the weather had other plans and forced a one day delay. Once the skies cleared up however all proceedings up to the terminal count were carried out with no additional issues.

The Flight

With the service boom swung away and the rocket on internal power and radio-frequency comms, final preparations for launch were carried out mainly by the AFCS, now in control of the rocket. 5s before booster ignition the support arms holding the rocket steady against any sudden wind gusts were retracted to clear the way for ascent and at T-0 the 0.625m dual-segment SRB lit off to push the rocket off the engine support at 13:30:00.04 local time to begin its ascent.

With an initial TWR of 3 the rocket quickly gained enough speed in the first seconds for the guidance fins to have the authority to begin pitching the rocket downrange, heading the direction it was already facing – direct east. However instead the rocket went into a slight roll and actually ended up briefly pointing back west before correcting with another roll back towards 90° however upon reaching that head spun around again and continued to have trouble pointing itself in the proper direction to the consternation of controllers.

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Sep 25 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 9/14 & 9/21/20

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Sep 13 2020

4 Years On – How IRL Will Impact KSA’s Future

Hello everyone, this is going to be an entirely out-of-character annual update because I want to be candid about how this project could be affected by in-real-life events moving forward given my current circumstances.

The KSA is becoming a “mature” agency now and that helps because it doesn’t tweet or generate content nearly as much on a daily basis as it used to back in the earlier years, however at the same time the complexity of the operations has also increased. The pandemic these past few months and me being unable to do my “real job” coaching gymnastics and thus spending nearly all my time at home has also brought about a startling realization: this whole project is taking up a lot more time nowadays than it used to. In earlier years I would have at least 2-3 weeks of lead time, sometimes as much as 2-3 months and now I’m struggling to keep ahead by just a few days.

There is another consideration however – the whole pandemic situation has also brought me closer to friends online since regular in-person gatherings aren’t really a thing anymore lately. Ironically this has eaten up time as well because it’s easier to get together online to play games than it is to coordinate IRL meetups. So before Covid I was spending less time hanging with friends but getting more from the in-person interaction so I felt less compelled to connect to them online often, freeing up more time for me to work on KSA.

Now, if I free up more time from gaming with my friends online that will help me stay ahead when lead time grows short but another upcoming problem will be when financial assistance for unemployment related to Covid dries up over the next few months. If I return to the gym to coach or search out some other employment opportunity because I need the money to sustain myself then that is once again less time I have to spend on this project.

If time becomes an issue, as I have said before I will be forced to scale back the timeline and scope of this project in order to allow it to continue. Updates will become fewer, background story elements will fade away, crew will develop less character and time between launches will be extended so that I have more time to prepare.

A final consideration for how much time I have to work on KSA activities is contributions from Patreon. Obviously if I can make enough money through here that I don’t have to spend as much time coaching or traveling away to fireworks shows then that is more time I can spend on this project instead. Currently I’m making just enough to cover the monthly $10 payment I make to prolific KSP mod author LinuxGuruGamer, who in keeping various mods alive also helps keep the KSA project moving forward with new KSP versions.

While I of course hope my personal situation and the pandemic situation stabilizes in the near future, I also doubt it’s going to happen – especially considering this upcoming U.S. election. I remain committed however to not voluntarily giving up the project. I take a lot of enjoyment seeing people react to what the KSA is doing and I thank everyone who has reached out to me over the years with comments and suggestions or even attempted to take part in the role play. It does mean a lot.

I’m really looking forward to making it back to orbit over this coming year and continuing on this journey with you all. Thanks for following along and please don’t forget to help spread the word about the KSA’s existence!

Drew Kerman,
Founder, Operations Director

Sep 11 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/31 & 9/7/20

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Sep 09 2020

Ascension Mk1 Flight 14 Analysis

Specialist Bob has had quite the long journey to get up into space. He was supposed to be the first to take the trip however the Monolith had other plans for our initial orbital attempt, which can be read about in more detail here. Nearly one year later his rotation finally came back around after first Bill then Val then Jeb all took turns flying up above the atmosphere. Always the one on the crew list with the most nerves, having 3 other kerbals return safely from space helped to put him at ease, although at the same time he couldn’t help but wonder if that meant he would be the one to not come back alive. Despite his anxiety, Bob got straight on board the rocket on launch day and retained his composure throughout the mission, despite the problems that were had.

The Flight

With no issues in the countdown, the ignition sequence began at T-6s to fire up the main engine and check chamber pressures as it throttled to launch thrust of 1.2 TWR. Clamp release was approved as the AFCS confirmed launch thrust and the rocket began its ascent, holding throttle steady until it had climbed over the towers. The rocket began to roll from 45° to launch heading of 54° but at L+6s the guidance computer decided that it was also supposed to be holding a 45° pitch angle and kicked the rocket hard over while still less than 500 meters over the ground. Needless to say this caused quite the commotion in launch control!

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Aug 28 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/17 & 8/24/20

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Aug 25 2020

Progeny Mk7-B Flight 1 Analysis

Originally announced back in late 2019, the Mk7-B was meant to fly earlier this year however the bankruptcy of Umbra Space Industries and the following litigation led to the suspension of Progeny launches that lasted several months on top of the self-imposed general launch suspension earlier in the year. Finally, nearly a year after the last Progeny Mk7-A flight the Mk7-B conducted its first mission.

Leading up to the launch, the rocket was carefully checked out after having sat around for months since finishing assembly earlier in the year. Rollout to the launch pad was initially delayed due to mechanical problems with the carry vehicle and once out on the pad despite a good wet dress rehearsal additional delays were required thanks to some launch system upgrades that were made during the downtime between this and the previous unkerbed launch.

Two days after the new launch date operations were finally allowed to proceed in preparing the rocket for lift off. Pre-launch protocols went smoothly and weather was cooperative throughout.

The Flight

At L-2 minutes the terminal count procedures began with the AFCS taking command of the rocket as the service tower swung away to leave the spacecraft on internal power and radio comms. Leading up to the final T-30s polls battery drain rates were monitored and signal checks undertaken. With all systems GO, the rocket proceeded with final launch procedures and the support legs keeping it stable against any sudden wind gusts were retracted 5s prior to T-0.

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Aug 14 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/3 & 8/10/20

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Aug 05 2020

Ascension Mk1 Flight 13 Analysis

To continue to test science instruments the unkerbed Mk1-A capsule made its 4th flight up into space, adding data on to the studies began with a similar mission back in 2019. This time however the trajectory was tweaked to send the rocket higher and also carried Mystery Goo samples, the largest batch to date. Additional mission objectives included the technology demonstration of dish antenna for high-gain data transmission/reception and the capsule carrying internal shielding to help lower the amount of radiation that reaches the crew. The mission was scheduled to launch in the middle of the day cycle to ensure that the inner radiation belt was pushed closest to the surface by the kerbolar wind so the rocket’s trajectory would penetrate as deep as possible. No issues came up in the preparation for launch, the rocket was successfully rolled out to the pad and dish comms tested before being raised vertical for a wet dress rehearsal. The day of launch the rocket was lowered again for late onload of the Mystery Goo samples, as they are highly radioactive and would have presented a danger to pad crew during the rollout and WDR.

The Flight

Just prior to engine ignition the fins all swiveled through their full range of motion to test hydraulic pressure – if they fail to re-center before ignition time of T-6s then pressure is low. Engine ignition was permitted and the K2-X fired up without issue at 10% initial thrust to check chamber pressure for 3 seconds before throttling up to launch TWR of 1.2 (~75% throttle). Launch thrust was confirmed at T-0, allowing the engine clamps to release and enable the rocket to begin its journey up into space at 17:30:00.74 local time. Another 3 seconds into the flight the rocket climbed above the service towers and the engine was brought up to full power, producing 172kN of thrust.

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