Category Archive: Plot Summary

Summaries of multiple mission dispatches/flight logs or of important points in KSA history

Mar 25 2020

Ascension and Progenitor Programs Suspending Operations

Today I made the decision to suspend our rocketry programs for a full review and reassessment on all levels (design, administration, operations, vehicle integration, etc) over the next two months, at least. This move is especially difficult because we started this year out so strong, putting a probe into orbit and once again sending a kerbal up into space after a 5 month hiatus of crewed flight. This month we were also due to launch the first Progeny Mk7-B rocket and begin testing booster recovery and re-use. However despite the increasing momentum we seem to be surpassing our capacity to manage the increasing complexity of our missions and run the risk of compromising safety.

Initial review of the recent kerbed mission has found out why the rocket did not travel as high as planned – it was 53kg heavier than expected. We don’t have a scale that can measure a rocket after it’s been fully assembled. We know the mass of a rocket because we know the mass of all the individual parts plus the mass of the fuels and the mass of the crew. At some point in this mission improper mass figures were given to the mission design team, or proper ones were given but then failed to be updated when changes were made to the rocket’s assembly. We’re still working down the fault chain to identify all the reasons why this mass discrepancy occurred.

Although this was a relatively minor mistake that did not lead to any actual issues with the mission itself, ignoring it could lead to larger mistakes that in turn lead to disastrous consequences. I don’t feel that it is enough to recognize the issue and say “we’ll get it fixed” as we also continue to move on with operations that may already be compromised. Shutting everything down will allow us to go back to missions and vessels already in progress of being deployed to ensure that they are properly put together.

This decision is also influenced by the recent shut down of the Genesis program, which allowed us to identify and rectify numerous issues that had creeped their way into the program over the years. While we haven’t yet lost a pilot in Genesis due to maintenance or operational errors, there have been numerous close calls and the margins for crewed rocket flight are even tighter, not to mention how much more expensive it is to lose a rocket and unkerbed payload in flight.

This shut down will affect launches and construction only at this time. Engine testing on our static stands will continue and Wernher von Kerman’s team over at R&D also remain unaffected, so some things will continue to move forward. The Progeny Mk7-B that was recently assembled will receive another thorough inspection, mission plans for it and future Mk7-B flights will undergo full reviews. The recent Ascension Mk1 flight will continue to be analyzed and a report published. The upcoming Ascension Mk1 and Mk2 missions are all undergoing the same review scrutiny and we will also be taking another look at what we need to accomplish between now and the late-2021 launch of the first Extremis mission. Crew training will be suspended so our astronauts can be involved in the review aspects oriented towards their mission preparations – we expect training exercises to resume prior to the operational suspension being lifted.

Lead Engineer Simon and Flight Director Lanalye are both in agreement with me on this decision and we are confident that this will work to ensure we finish this year as strong as we started.

– Drew Kerman
Founder, Operations Director

Oct 24 2019

KSA Suffers Deadly Attack on Kerbed Space Mission

Click for annotated version

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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Jun 21 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 6/17/19

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May 31 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 5/27/19

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May 10 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 5/6/19

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May 02 2019

C7 Aerospace & Airship Industry Settle Dispute via Government Intervention

Back at the end of February the corporate HQ of C7 was raided by government agents and all the executive staff were detained. Workers were furloughed. Questions were asked, but very few answers came back from the seat of government in Sheltered Rock. This kicked off a string of events over the next 2 months which culminated in the airship Barons, wealthy business leaders of the various airship conglomerates, also being detained under mysterious circumstances. We gave in to some speculation here and there but were unable to get any solid answers to what was going on. Recently the announcement was made that all parties were to be released and everyone could go back to business. Records of the whole ordeal were sealed up and stashed away – anything made public was so full of redactions it was practically useless. Our founder and Operations Director Drew Kerman was recently invited to Sheltered Rock for a briefing since KSA works closely in partnership with C7 but upon his return he said he was unable to speak about it.

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Apr 10 2019

Uncontacted Kerbals Discovered in Great Desert

Location of contact

Our high-altitude KerBalloon team was embedded with a keological expedition out to the Great Desert to study a large area of uplifted terrain to begin to understand its origins. The balloon team was tasked with releasing two balloons and tracking their drift around the area to get an idea of the air currents. Both meandered around and came down within the interior regions. In an attempt to recover the second balloon the crew was attacked with stones that appeared to have been thrown or slung. They beat a hasty retreat to their airship and took flight, spotting their assailants as they flew off – a small group of kerbals clad in animal skins. They returned to the area some time later with a larger group and found the balloon payload was gone along with the group of unknown kerbals. A search of the area uncovered numerous cave openings and most of them displayed indications of regular use. The decision was made to not attempt to locate or further disturb the unknown tribe until a report could be made.

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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.

Jan 07 2019

Ascension Postpones Orbit for Capsule Technology Testing

Over the past week since returning from holiday break program teams have been working on how they want to approach operations in 2019. For the most part everyone stuck to what they had going when 2018 drew to a close, but the Ascension team is continuing to move forward with a big change they began to plan late last year which is to forego further attempts at making orbit with just the Mk1 lifter and instead focus on preparing for sub-orbital capsule flights.

The main reason behind this decision was due to successive failures at modeling an ascent profile that would reach a decaying orbit using the new Launch Vehicle Designer that comes with the Trajectory Optimization Tool from ArrowstarTech*, one of our external partners. Even when the test payload mass was reduced as much as possible, 278kg down from 1t, the rocket was still unable to reach a final state at MECO that would carry it around the planet at least once. The main problem is that the rocket uses control surfaces for guidance, which means it can only control its pitch for about half of the ascent – past 37km the air grows too thin for the control surfaces to have effect on the rocket’s orientation. Although the natural force of gravity can continue to lower the nose past that point, it will do so only based on how fast the rocket was pitching before then. In the modeling, if it pitches over fast enough to end the burn with a positive perikee, it stays within the atmosphere. If it pitches over less aggressively to prevent this, past the point of aerodynamic control its nose doesn’t drop fast enough to push the orbit perikee out from under the surface while still making it to space before MECO.

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Jan 04 2019

KSA Financial Report 2018 & Donation Information

While I did not create a comprehensive report such as this after summarizing the years of 2016/17, this past year has been full of so many red fields atop the monthly sheets I felt it was necessary to explain to anyone who reads our public reports that the Kerbal Space Agency is not currently in serious financial trouble. First, if you have not yet seen it, our end of year summary for 2018 is available here. I will admit, this is not a pretty picture! We are now almost a quarter of the way into our third year of operations and as the Total Net Income field shows we have lost 171,094 funds from our original capital. This is not unexpected, given that we are trying to create an entirely new industry – the commercial support remains nascent at best as we attempt to adapt our current technologies to be able to carry out missions clients want today while at the same time working to advance our technology to meet their needs in the years to come as both air and space become more accessible. Lots of profits is not something we will see much of in the near future.

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