Jan 31 2020

Operations Summary – Week of 1/27/20

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Ascension Crew Training Ongoing

Since last month our astronaut crew have all been undergoing preparations for the next kerbed space flight, which will see Captain Jebediah as primary crew with Specialist Bob as his backup, Spc Bill as primary CapCom with Commander Valentina as backup. All crew members have been taking time in the new centrifuge that began operations this month and was constructed adjacent to our headquarters in Umbarg, with Bob & Jeb working on ways to deal with the heavy G-load that Val experienced on her return from space. Modifications made to the suit, straps and seat since then have allowed the crew to take multiple runs before starting to feel as fatigued as they did earlier in the month’s training.

Next month the flight crew will be spending more time doing practical exercises such as recovery drills, launch drills, and capsule simulator runs. Having a relatively lighter load with their CapCom duties, Bill and Val will be spending more time in the centrifuge undergoing high-G training.

Future Ascension Mission Planning

This week we began to order parts for the next 4 Ascension missions, which will consist of 1 Mk2 and 3 Mk1 flights. The first Mk1 flight is aiming for early March with Cpt Jeb heading up into space on a sub-orbital trajectory that will closely match the one Val flew on last year. The flight’s goals besides putting another kerbal into space will be to refine both ascent & descent planning in addition to collecting more data on the physiological effects of 0G. The timing of the launch will also be a factor for reasons we will keep to ourselves for now – but kerbs are welcome to guess.

Second Mk1 flight will be about a month after Jeb’s mission, another kerbed flight with Spc Bob finally getting another chance to go to space since his first attempt was scrubbed and feeling a lot more comfortable about it now. The mission will aim for the same goals as Jeb’s flight to further refine our knowledge as well as address any issues that occurred with Jeb’s earlier mission. Despite proving we can open and close the hatch then execute a safe re-entry, neither of these missions will feature a space walk, or Extra-Vehicular Activity. We think this tweet best explains why.

The third Mk1 mission will fly the unkerbed capsule up through the radiation belts, based on the performance we achieved with initial mission planning for the flight that was flown earlier this month. The return will be horrendously stressful on the capsule and could potentially destroy it. Once again it will carry aboard science instrumentation for 1.25m probes, although they will not be deployed during the belt transition as we want to also test the hardness of the capsule against the radiation, for which it needs to be sealed.

However, depending on the success of the first Mk2 mission there’s also a chance we will use the third Mk1 as a lifter for a second Mk2. This is unlikely, since we would also have to build a new orbital payload and Viklun stage, by which time a new engine order could arrive anyways. It’s just an option we are leaving open.

While we can’t speak more about the upcoming Mk2 mission as we are still waiting flight analysis results from this month’s Mk1 mission, check the gallery above for a new render of the rocket with the proper payload attached and new fins included.

KerBalloon Operations Dry Up

It’s coming up on that time again, after we’ve run so many missions for various agencies they are all now in the process of analyzing the collected data to determine what they want to gather next. While we do try to work with agencies as best we can to mitigate this, it’s hard to completely avoid because the only interest this serves is our own. Being our most profitable program, this only increases the importance of the upcoming Mk2 mission, which would grant us a large purse of award money from the Kerbin World First organization for reaching orbit.

Hopefully CFO Mortimer can land two final contracts that are in negotiation and the high-altitude KerBalloon mission should be returning this weekend. We will have a report available here when they do.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,639 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 20 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/25/20

UTV gift

Try as I might, as a human being I make mistakes and sometimes even I forget the way things are going in my own kerbal universe. Such was the case with the KerBalloon team being unable to do UTV traversals since losing some to accidents last year. We only had one left and need three for a safe drive team but I set them up for a drive mission and was called out by Bookz on twitter. There actually isn’t enough money in the operational budget for two new UTVs so I considered them to be rentals at first but then decided they could have been a donation or gift to the Agency over the New Years break. Pay attention people! I do not mind being corrected when I am wrong!

Also pulling back on KB missions allows me more time to work on the orbital mission planning.

Flying block

Gawsh I remember back when rebooting KSA and working with aircraft and saying how much I enjoyed flying the aircraft and doing flight missions… yes well I do still enjoy it but unfortunately they just take up soooo much time because they have to be flown in real time and with increasing range & complexity it doesn’t make sense for missions to only be 30-min long. So I have now 2-3 hours of flying followed by having to organize all the post-flight data, generate the mission profile for the Ops Tracker, capture any screenshots of the mission (in flight images can sometimes take ~30 minutes each depending on their content to setup and capture properly) and compose the mission tweets…. we’re talking basically a whole day’s worth of work and it’s at the point where I just wanna make my orbital attempt OMG right now so diverting my attention for aircraft missions is hard. I usually just shut down and go do something else until I come up with a way around it – like bad weather or centrifuge training fatigue or financial shortfall (actually that last one wasn’t a reason I made up myself).

Hopefully I will have time to get back to more flight missions soon but first I want to progress to the orbital flight attempt and build up my lead time a bit more. The orbital flight attempt is so important because I literally cannot plan anything substantial beyond that mission until I know its outcome.