Dec 20 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 12/16/19

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KSA Concludes 2019 Operations

We have once again brought our yearly operations to a close on a high note with the successful conclusion of the Kerbal Sounding Project’s second launch campaign, the flight analysis report for it was already posted earlier today. Genesis also helped to support that mission with a final storm chase flight – over the coming break these operations will be carried out solely by the new flight crew that was trained over at Sheltered Rock earlier this month. KerBalloon wrapped up operations earlier this month when no local contracts could be negotiated, with the Kongo high-altitude crew returning home after one final mission to the frozen north to test some new radiation instruments that could one day work their way into a rocket payload. While the Ascension program appears to have been on ice for the past two months rest assured that work has continued to prepare for its comeback at the start of 2020.

As for the KSC itself, launch pad repairs are on schedule to be completed next week, and we will be running some tests at the start of next year to ensure everything is back in working order before scheduling any launches. Launch Control will be receiving some internal system upgrades to keep pace with the increasing complexity of missions while the Tracking Station will see some infrastructure improvement as well to solve some intermittent issues that have been troubling the new radar system – at no time however during this process will we not have active eyes on the sky. Some surveying will also be done in advance of construction to begin on the commercial airport expansion next year as well.

In the gallery above you will be able to see several infographics depicting the progress our crew, surface, rocket and aircraft operations have all made over the course of the year. For the full-resolution images check out our flickr album. You can also always check through our historical archives if you want to look back on any of the events or missions of 2019.

We will return to operations on January 6th, 2020!

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,462 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 29 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 12/2/19

Really wanted to get this all done by the end of November. Sooo close but I kind of got stuck on Nov 30th unable to decide whether I should do like a comprehensive 2019 recap or just the usual coverage of weekly operations. So instead I just distracted myself the whole day watching Nolan North play Uncharted, which was charming if rather frustrating since he’s a new gamer, has no camera control or concept of basic firefight strategy and Troy Baker often made things worse in his suggestions than better. But still, Nolan definitely got better in some regards and seeing voice actors play their characters is cool while also getting to hear his own accounting of how things were done during development. Then yesterday I worked mainly on Ops Tracker v12, which is coming along nicely again after I had to do a bit more refactoring than I had originally planned. Today I finally sat down and decided to let my past work speak for itself, meaning that if there’s things about 2019 you want to find out I should have done a good job tagging & categorizing all the stuff I wrote that people can review what they want on their own as needed. So now – onwards to 2020!

2019 in Review

These annual infographics almost all received some additions – the crew review was the only one I didn’t really change. I have the multi-layer Paint.NET files saved so I didn’t have to really go and recreate them mostly just edit some text and move things around. Biggest change was splitting off surface operations into its own image instead of putting it on the bottom of the atmospheric overview, which was done mainly because the surface ops concluded well before aircraft ops and also I felt having them combined just made the image too tall.

I also discovered some discrepancies while going over all the 2019 data. The biggest were a Deuce flight I had completely forgotten to include in the Ops Tracker’s Inactive Vessels list and also realizing all the Ascension Mk1 flights that recorded telemetry data from ignition to launch were adding the mass of the launch clamp to the rocket. I also use the first row of telemetry data to record basic starting stats for the rocket’s Ops Tracker database which meant several of the rockets were displaying total masses in their Resources tooltip 1t greater than they actually were. So I had to take time to go back and correct these errors in the craft databases, telemetry spreadsheets and ascent telemetry tables.

Mk6 flight

This was originally going to be pushed to 2020 by a weather delay, in fact the recent historical tweet about extreme flooding at KSC was chosen to be foreshadowing of the big storm that was going to wreck this launch. With the recent Ascension troubles I felt people would hope the year would end well and I wanted to stomp on that (yes I am able to be a mean storyteller like that) but not totally wreck the rocket from flying. I also wanted another storm mission the Deuce could do in its way home so it wasn’t just a ferry flight I had to log. By the time I got to the point of the mission however I realized I had produced a lot of cool imagery I wanted to try to share regularly on reddit over the final 2 weeks of operations to drum up some interest and so having a big lead-up to a launch that didn’t happen wasn’t something I wanted to do. At least, not this time. See, I can be a nice storyteller too.

The launch photo was *mostly* serendipitous – I wanted a photo like that but I had only planned the launch time by using the Ops Tracker to figure out when the terminator line crossed KSC. That turned out to be as accurate as I hoped and I only needed to use Kopernicus to remove the sun’s corona texture for that clean shot of the solar disk (the corona texture actually annoyingly clips into the sun a good amount and I haven’t figured out how to fix it).

This technically took me three tries, although I only had to restart the flight once. The first fail came when I thought launch was 17:27 instead of 17:37. Thankfully after realizing this mistake all I had to do was reset the battery power and wait a bit longer for the actual launch to occur. Then on the actual first flight attempt my control script crashed because even though I had updated the science instrument to get some new science data I forgot to update the script to point to the right science experiment, so it tried calling the one from the last flight which wasn’t there. Second launch went as planned.

Flew this launch on Thanksgiving. Thankful to have completed the final 2019 mission!

Deuce mission

First time in a long time I had the game crash out on me during flight. That is extremely stressful because it means I’ve wasted however much time I put into it, in this case nearly an hour, and when trying again I’m just hoping against hope that it doesn’t crash again but closer to the end of the mission. Thankfully the second attempt went alright, and there were a few things I had told myself towards the end of the first attempt that I wish I had done a bit differently, so I got the excuse to do them. No idea why the crash occurred but as of now it’s not a frequent occurrence & I hope it stays that way.

This sunrise photo was completely serendipitous. I was actually planning to edit things to move the clock back a bit to the point where I would get this kind of photo on landing but it turned out pretty much just the way I wanted it using the time of the actual landing. Having to restart the flight also came into play here because the restart had me taking off several minutes later than I originally did. Sometimes things just work out.

2020 here we come

So again, the reason for the operational break is during this time I will be in the UAE working on a New Year’s fireworks show during which I will only have an iPad and internet access at the hotel at the end of the day to do anything in the few hours before I pass out from exhaustion. I thought about trying a GoFundMe for a few hundred bucks to get a cheap laptop but actually it’s good to mostly put aside KSA for a while and come back to it refreshed at the start of next year. Of course, by then thanks to my lead time I will already be well into January if not starting Feb so I won’t be coming back at the start of 2020 to begin 2020 ops but – you get the idea.

Ta ta for now (OMG wasn’t that scene in Mr Robot the bestest of many that were the best?)