Jan 10 2020

Operations Summary – Week of 1/6/20

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Yearly Operational Planning

The first week back at KSC saw everyone in meetings all day every day, working out across all the active programs what we want to accomplish over the course of the coming operational year, which is planned to run up to Dec 18th. First and foremost we would like to see another year where missions are performed every month. To determine what missions to pursue all staff members were able to voice their ideas and opinions, collectively working to give program and agency administrators goals to decide on. They have the weekend now to think things over and final decisions will be made on Monday. This “town hall” approach to our initial planning for the year was established in 2018, refined in 2019 and has worked out well.

Extremis Refocus

When it was first conceived in 2017, the Extremis program was meant to be the culmination of our early space flight goals, launching probes to the outer system and flying by multiple planets. Feasible routes turned out to be hard to find however and our progression towards being capable of flying a probe to the outer system has been slower than anticipated. While we still have over a year before the first mission to continue to improve our technology and program members are still working out possible trajectories for beyond 2021, the program remains rather defunct. To give it more purpose, the decision has already been made to reform it as the program to manage all extra-planetary probe missions, not just those sent out on journeys across and beyond the Kerbolar system.

In the short term this would apply to missions sent to Mun and Minmus, perhaps even Duna depending on the capabilities of the Ascension Mk2 or Mk3. This will free up Ascension resources to focus on rocket design and crew management while Extremis takes charge of plotting potential mission trajectories and determining for the Ascension team how much delta-v the rockets need in order to achieve them. Extremis will also take charge of the probe design for the mission and manage the probe while in flight. This will not extend to surface missions however, which will fall under a future program.

Annual Financial Report

2019 had its ups & downs just like any other year but we still managed to pull off near-continuous operations and have continued to refine our mission design and planning to target goals that are achievable and profitable. CFO Mortimer especially has spent much of the year consulting with financial analysts to help us boost our profit margins. The low failure rate of missions thanks to the re-use of proven technology and a trimmed R&D budget meant we were actually able to squeak out a small net profit! You can review the entire year of financials here.

Our 2020 outlook shows a possible decline in income once again, as we focus more heavily on R&D as well as path-finding missions that carry a large risk of failure, namely in the upcoming Progeny Mk7-B/C and Ascension Mk2/3 rockets slated to be designed and launched this year. This does have the chance to be offset however if we do manage to make orbit and begin accepting contracts for commercial satellites. How soon we are able to pull this off will dictate whether or not we end the year in the green again.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,566 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 30 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/7/20

Ha! I remembered to change the year on the date this time 😛 Happy new year! I had hoped to write both this week and next week before I left for my holiday work however I got hung up on a lot of rocket design, mission design, Ops Tracker refactor and overall 2020 planning after I finished off the 2019 operational year posting at the beginning of December. Plus, even a couple weeks lead-up to my trip puts a lot of stress on me that degrades my overall work performance as the month progresses. The New Years Eve fireworks show I helped Fireworks by Grucci put together over in the UAE was an epic feat of work that deserves a documentary all itself. Despite all the obstacles though we managed to pull off two new Guinness World Records.

Back is fine yay

A couple months ago I wrote about my back being all fucked up and how I wasn’t able to spend much time sitting up and all that. Good news is that about a month later it finally felt like it was getting better and a month after that it was mostly fine. I can still wake up some days and feel a bit seized up down in the lumbar region but overall I’ve recovered normal functionality. And even when out working on the fireworks show, which can require a good deal of manual labor, my back never really complained as long as I got enough rest at the end of the day.

Waypoint name generator

I just realized last month that Waypoint Manager actually generates default names for your waypoints using the same nomenclature that KSP uses to generate contract waypoints. I mean, that makes sense I just never noticed. Back in 2016-2017 I would just stick to the waypoint names the game gave me but eventually I tired of the named ones like “Jeb’s Folly” and stuck to just “Zone”, “Sector”, etc. I was going to give them deeper meanings as well like “Zone” means one type of mission while “Area” meant another but I couldn’t come up with any good reason to do so. Eventually when I started recycling contracts in 2018 I just made up all my own names, trying to stay withing the format for each type. Now I can just have Waypoint Manager generate them for me. Yay, less thinking.

2019 Profit

I don’t prognosticate my finances, which is to say I never planned for 2019 to barely scrape by with a profit. There are some instances where I “cook the books” a bit to align better with current storyline circumstances, but this is such a rare and even minor thing I can’t recall any examples (though some have been noted here in the Desk Notes over the years). Overall the way I implement profit and expense is largely a gut feeling based on my general understanding of how things are priced in the game. Part of the reason I prefer to do it this way is because I like not knowing where it might lead me. Uh, oh, I’m running out of money, how does the KSA respond? Oh look, I have some profit margin, how can the KSA use this? I find it easier to come up with creative ideas when prompted to do so with a set of circumstances instead of just sitting back and trying to think them up from nothing.

Lightning towers

I had planned to put these in late last year prior to the last Progeny Mk7-A launch but decided not to because I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that there were some dedicated statics out there for them. It took a bit of digging but finally came across damonvv”s Tundra Space Center, which has lightning towers modeled off some NASA/SpaceX pad designs. Problem was they weren’t available without the pad itself. Thankfully he was gracious enough to extract them from the pad model and release them as individual statics – for the latest KSP and I’m still running v1.5.1. Although he also made the effort to backport them, I couldn’t get them to work. So I just fell back to my original plan for the towers using some old Kerbin Side statics. I will be able to upgrade to the fancier statics for a future launchpad or just replace the towers at a later date. I like showing KSC evolution so it’s not all that bad a deal.

January Mk6-I launch

LOL whoops remember how I mentioned in a previous desk notes that the final Mk6-I launch was supposed to be delayed to Jan? Well it was meant to launch Jan 8th and so I had written ahead and included the !!🚀!! in the sunrise/sunset schedule and then completely missed that it was still there when I changed my mind and launched all 4 rockets to close out 2019. So it showed up as being posted and I was so confused for a minute wondering why I had a rocket launch scheduled. Of course I blamed it on Jeb 😛