May 12 2020

High-Altitude Science Survey 66

Hitching a ride with a deep-sea expedition to the northern sea, the release over Sector Q-0ZN5 for Tetragon Projects will gather data from the heights as opposed to the depths

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May 11 2020

Low-Altitude Science Survey 57

The longest overland trek to date using Utility Task Vehicles saw two releases, one each over Zone 88TN-K & Site WQ90-B to gather weather and atmospheric data for CTC Exploration

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May 08 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 4/27/20 & 5/4/20

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Apr 24 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 4/13/20 & 4/20/20

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Apr 21 2020

Kerbin I Mission Analysis

Originally planned to launch aboard an Ascension Mk1 in 2019, when that rocket was deemed unable to make orbit the payload was delayed and eventually committed to the Ascension Mk2, which was not able to fly until early 2020. The purpose of our first orbital satellite was to place our mission control team in charge of actual orbital operations, test the new Archtagon Aerospace RB-8 cold gas engine, test the new Probodobodyne OKTO common probe core and perform one final re-entry/impact test of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). The probe carried a massive bank of batteries because the RTG remained non-functional, allowing for the probe to stay up in orbit for several days with the use of hibernation to save power. The mission got off to an uncertain start when the Viklun upper stage placed the satellite into an unstable orbit, leaving the team on the ground with the challenge of recovering the situation to still carry out the previously-stated mission objectives.

The Mission

Deployment to begin the mission was carried out once the Viklun stage came back into communications range of the ground via its more powerful 1.5Mm antenna. Having run out of power about an hour prior to this, it had been leeching electrical charge from Kerbin I’s battery banks to keep itself alive. Although Kerbin I only carried a 500km antenna, deployment was planned for now because afterwards Kerbin I could go into hibernation, conserving energy over the time it would have spent coming within its own comms range. The Viklun stage had enough residual power after separation it could continue to relay signal while Kerbin I transitioned into hibernation, after which the Viklun became derelict. How it fared after this can be read about in the Ascension Mk2 Flight 1 analysis.

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Apr 10 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 3/30/20 & 4/6/20

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Apr 09 2020

Deuce Science Flight 18

Captain Jebediah and Commander Valentina, with meteorologist Katgan, deploy dropsonde probes over a developing storm system out in the Kerblantic for the Kerbin Weather Service

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Apr 07 2020

Ascension Mk1 Flight 12 Analysis

Captain Jebediah has waited nearly 5 months for his second chance to fly into space after his first attempt last year was foiled by religious extremists. Extensive training with his backup crew mate Specialist Bob prepared him to handle everything but the wait, which was increased further on his second attempt first by weather delays and then by a faulty engine on launch day. After successful ignition, launch failed due to low thrust issues that caused the engine to not reach a thrust to weight ratio (TWR) of 1.2 for lift off. Trying a second time led to the same result. Although the thrust loss was minimal and still would have been enough to push the rocket off the pad, downrange performance was called into question – it would have been a costly and embarrassing failure if the rocket had been unable to reach space due to thrust issues. Thankfully this additional mission delay was not as long as it could have been since we had another engine that was recently received & tested ready to swap in over the course of a week. After a static fire on the pad the day before launch to make double sure it was capable, Jeb was finally able to ride up into the starry blackness. His mission would be similar to the previous kerbed sub-orbital flights in allowing the gathering of medical data from the 0G environment as well as providing additional flight data on the performance of the capsule, heat shield and crew G tolerances. And as always – amazing pictures!

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Mar 27 2020

Operations Summary – Week of 3/23/20

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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

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