Category Archive: News

What's going on at the Kerbal Space Agency

Nov 09 2016

Progenitor Program Continues with the Progeny Mk2.1

The investigation into the Progeny Mk2 launch failure has concluded and have found the cause to be due to a failure of the second stage engine fairing, which was improperly used as a structural element in the design of the Mk2. Tests last week showed what can happen should the upper stage booster impact with enough force to slightly crumple, and further tests this week allowed engineers to properly analyze the rigidity of the engine fairing material to show where original specifications fell short. USI has already started on a design fix to resolve the booster self-ignition issue and while they don’t have a stronger material to use for the engine shroud pieces, they did offer up a structural interstage decoupler that the second stage booster could rest upon, thus removing stress from the engine fairings. KSA has placed orders for the decoupler, as well as additional Mk1-A and Mk1-B booster cores, plus a few other required parts that are now low in supply in our warehouse. The majority of these parts will arrive within a week, except for the Mk1-B boosters, which still are being reworked to prevent the self-ignition issue. We expect them to be delivered by the end of the month and will prep for their arrival by partially assembling as much of the Mk2.1 rocket as possible. The only change to the rocket design will be the addition of the decoupler between the first and second booster stages.

Return to flight will occur sometime in the beginning of December.

Nov 04 2016

Operations Summary – Week of 10/31/16

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Oct 28 2016

Operations Summary – Week of 10/24/16

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Oct 26 2016

Progeny Mk2 Inflight Anomaly Initial Report

Launch today of the first Progeny Mk2 rocket was marred by an explosive event which occurred 2-3s after ignition of the first stage booster, which appears to have completely disintegrated. The second stage booster was then lit, which cleared the payload of the explosion however following protocol the launch controllers armed the recovery chute the moment the explosion was detected and instead of waiting for vertical speed to go negative, the chute deployed during acceleration of the second stage, causing a G-load well past limits and shredding the chute. The booster then detached from the payload as designed and fell to the ground where it exploded, which leads us to believe it did not completely burn out. The payload itself, lacking an intact chute, did not survive impact with the ground.

It’s important to note two things at this time: 1) we are not yet completely sure of the order of events. Everything happened very fast and only careful review of video footage and the basic telemetry gathered by the tracking station will let us piece together exactly what happened when. 2) the second stage is meant to be activated by controllers well after the first stage separates, and we know for sure no controller activated the second stage, so it was lit off by itself somehow.

We will be spending the next few days or weeks reviewing all available data and designs for the Mk2 in order to come to a conclusive understanding of what led to this launch failure so we can then decide how to move forward. Until then all future Mk2 flights have been suspended. No other rocket launches are planned. Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 21 2016

Operations Summary – Week of 10/17/16

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Oct 17 2016

Progeny Mk2 Advances the Progenitor Program

After review of the Progeny Mk1-A and review of the Progeny Mk1-B series of flights the decision has been made to move forward with the Progeny Mk2. The two boosters tested by the Mk1 flights were always meant to be combined into a two-stage rocket and this will be the goal of the Mk2 design. The rocket will begin its ascent using the Mk1-A booster, which will then detach and after a short coast period the Mk1-B booster will ignite to further propel the payload towards the mid-lower atmosphere, which extends fully up to 18km above the surface. The booster fins will both be angled to spin the rocket during ascent, although subsequent launches may attempt straight flight.

Our current parts stockpile contains 2 Mk1-B boosters and 3 Mk1-A boosters, but we’re already looking into acquiring additional units from Umbra Space Industries. Considerations are being made for possibly using the extra Mk1-A booster to attempt a dual side-by-side lower stage flight, although at this time engineers are unsure how to couple them to the upper stage. They suspect a longer 3-stage rocket would be unstable due to the low TWR of the first stage.

The Mk2 will also be the first rocket to carry a scientific payload, lofting two of the instruments that were tested last month aboard a KerBalloon flight. These packages will provide data on the atmosphere that meteorologists can use to help increase their understanding of Kerbin’s new weather patterns.

The rocket assembly process will proceed similarly to the Mk1. Two days will be spent assembling and testing the Mk1 boosters, with a final day for assembly & integration of the payload. A fourth day will be spent on integration and testing for the entire rocket. Simon and his team will begin assembly on 10/19 and the rocket will be ready to launch a week later on 10/26 @ 17:00 UTC.