Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

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 06 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 10/26 & 11/2/20

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Oct 23 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 10/12 & 10/19/20

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Oct 21 2020

Ascension Mk2 Flight 2 Analysis

Although the first orbital mission was eventually deemed a success for the payload, the Ascension Mk2 failed in its attempt to place the satellite it carried into a stable orbit. This brought the Ascension team back to the drawing board to improve the Viklun upper stage and make it more capable of maintaining attitude with its Reaction Control System cold gas thrusters. In the months since the first mission additional design work was also carried out for the next payload, dubbed Kerbin II and meant to test out technologies that would be used in the first line of communication satellites we are hoping to deploy in 2021. Once the Viklun stage improvements and payload design were finalized the rocket was assembled without issue in the VAB but the day before launch a problem occurred with installing the Radioisotope Thermal-electric Generator. The RTG was installed late in the launch preparation because the heat it outputs would compromise the fairings if left too long without thermal control, such as that provided by the crew access tower when the rocket is on the pad. Thankfully the problem was easy to overcome and the mission was only delayed to the following week.

The Flight

With no issues popping up during pre-flight the Mk2’s K2-X main engine lit up on time at T-3s under command of the AFCS, throttled at 10% power to check for good ignition. At T-0 after chamber pressures were confirmed to be nominal the 4 solid rocket boosters were ignited and their hold down bolts blown away to allow the rocket to begin its ascent with a combined force of 191kN to produce just over 1.6Gs acceleration. Immediately after launch all four of the rocket’s fins actuated to roll the rocket from 45° to 60° heading over about 6s before beginning to pitch over downrange. At the time pitch-over began the two horizontal fins nullified their ability to react to roll inputs so later in the flight at supersonic speeds control flutter would be kept to a minimum to reduce vibrations on the payload. By L+10s the SRBs had begun to taper off their thrust and the main engine throttle started to increase in order to maintain a TWR of 1.5.

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Oct 09 2020

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

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Sep 25 2020

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

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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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