Feb 07 2020

Operations Summary – Week of 2/3/20

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Mk1 Flight Analysis Confirms Mk2 Orbital Ascent Capability

The report on January’s Mk1 mission was finally released this week, concluding that the new guidance fins showed they were capable of steering the Ascension Mk2 on an ascent path into orbit. This means the orbital attempt mission is definitely approved, however work still remains before we can schedule a launch date. The data that was collected from the Mk1 flight has to be applied to the Mk2 mission plan first to ensure that we didn’t miss anything crucial in designing the ascent up to orbit. For an additional safety margin we are only shooting for a 100km circular insertion which will leave almost 1t of fuel, or half the Viklun stage’s capacity, available in the event of any serious under-performance.

Most of the work needed to re-plot the Mk2 ascent using Mk1 drag and performance data has been done, but program managers still have to do a full review and readiness assessment taking into consideration the build progress in the VAB (check the gallery above for photos). Barring any serious complications arising we expect a date for later this month to be announced next week!

Civvie Crash Exposes Poor Maintenance & Oversight

Commander Valentina attempted to take off earlier this week in the Civvie to perform a quarterly flight around the region to collect air samples for pollen counts. Less than a minute after takeoff, while pulling the throttle knob back to reduce power from takeoff to climb, the engine dropped to idle. She felt the knob slide all the way out without any resistance and immediately suspected the throttle cable had snapped. Over the water now after departing from runway 09 she quickly turned about to land but the sharp bank reduced her lift and almost stalled the aircraft. She managed a 180° turn back towards the shore but was unable to re-align with the runway and had to glide straight in to the ground. Her decision not to bother to make the runway was a good one and allowed her time to configure for landing and even pump fuel to the rear so that despite dropping hard and fast the tail dug into the ground and kept the plane from tipping forward. The Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer attached to the belly also kept the nose high as it slid along the ground, although the instrument was critically damaged in the process.

After mechanics confirmed the throttle cable was indeed broken, it quickly became apparent digging into the maintenance records for the aircraft that it and various other control cables were never replaced after the Deuce suffered a similar incident last year. In fact the work order had gotten completely lost – there is a copy of it in the Admin building but no sign of it in the HAB and poor record keeping by the maintenance crew meant no one had realized it was never done. We’ve dismissed the lead mechanic and Lead Engineer Simon has also taken responsibility for the lack of oversight in ensuring that our aircraft are being properly maintained.

While the Civvie is being repaired both it and the Deuce will be grounded until a full review of maintenance records and procedures is completed to ensure that both aircraft are fit to fly and that moving forward they remain in this condition. Val thankfully only suffered minor injuries in the crash. She’s suffered worse!

Fiscal Shortage Drives Orbital Attempt

The financial report for January has been released by CFO Mortimer, showing that we nearly ran out of funds prior to our monthly Patreon supporter payment. This would normally lead to further budget restrictions across the entire Agency’s operations, but in this case much of the expenses in January were from infrastructure repairs and improvements that will not recur in such large amounts in the months moving forward. Still, lots of attention is being focused on getting the Ascension Mk2 mission off the ground and into orbit. If we do that, the Kerbin World First organization has a prize purse awaiting release to congratulate us on the achievement and provide stimulus to further develop commercial space flight.

You can always find the latest financial reports available at this location.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,696 asteroids and 0 updated with new observation data. Here are the 57 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/26/20

Getting closer…. yes I’m writing this up just one day after my last Desk Notes but that’s not too big a deal – I didn’t just do a marathon work session I had a lot of this week already outlined and ready to fill out. Next week too. Cutting back on all other operations has been key to allowing me to spend all my time progressing up to the Ascension Mk2 mission.

Civvie crash

I thought this was an elegant way to completely remove any need for flying for a while. The Deuce has already been sidelined when I said that storms out over the ocean do not form as often, so a few weeks of not flying that is taken care of. Now the Civvie is out of action but not in a seriously costly manner and it also took out the science instrument so I can’t swap it over to the Deuce to use there. Plus the whole mechanical oversight side-plot let me just completely ground the aircraft.

Like I said, once I move past the orbital attempt mission and have some more lead time, flights will return. I just needed to buy myself some more breathing room and thankfully didn’t have to kill any kerbals to do it this time 😝

Also you can now see in the financial report I wasn’t kidding about almost running out of money. That was something I realized when I was looking for an excuse to delay the flight, I did not cook the books to make it happen that way. I explained earlier how I like the finances throwing me ideas and curve balls every now and then.

Also, also, not having many flights will make it easier to not have to show airport construction progress. I have some ideas for how to show that, but not very many and I don’t want to have to use them all up so fast. Yes I could always choose angles that doesn’t look towards the construction but I don’t like that.

Crew location tracking

I almost made another crew location mistake this past weekend when I first reported in the Ops Summary that Jeb & Val were going to Kravass to train a new KWS crew but then on Sat I said Jeb & Bob had a paper airplane contest. I didn’t realize my mistake until Sunday when I read the tweets to go out later in the day and it talked about Jeb & Val returning from Kravass /facepalm so I had to edit the tweet to say just Val was coming back and edit the Ops Summary to say just Val was going to Kravass. Whatever, Val could totally handle crew training on her own cause she’s a hard ass. Fortunately no one else seemed to notice. No one else seemed to notice either that the Ops Summary wasn’t actually scheduled to publish the same time as the tweet. Yay small audience?

I’m not even going to get into this tracking station roof dish fiasco

Also getting all this work done has absolutely nothing to do with my game controller suddenly no longer working and being unable to comfortably play Hitman 2 or No Mans Sky.

I swear.

no, really

okay fine I don’t believe myself either