Jul 10 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 6/29 & 7/6/20

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Mission Preparation Complete for Next Kerbed Spaceflight

Over the past two weeks the training and assembly for the next space mission reached a furious pace but all crew and staff stepped up to meet the challenge. Specialists Bob (Primary) and Bill (Backup) spent several days offshore on MSV Aldeney performing capsule recovery drills, which include normal and emergency recovery operations. They then spent more time in the centrifuge to keep up their G tolerance for the rough re-entry that is planned as well as multiple capsule simulator runs to ensure they have the mission operations down pat. Despite her best efforts, Flight Director Lanalye couldn’t kill them without doing things like putting a chink in their heatshield due to a very-low probability micro-meteroid strike – which they couldn’t do anything about anyways. They will now enter into quarantine this weekend ahead of launch attempt on Thursday.

Over on the spacecraft and flight operations side, both Commander Valentina (Primary) and Captain Jebediah (Backup) continue to work with the Launch Team A on their CapCom duties while the whole team trains for the mission. The spacecraft finished assembly in the VAB today after vertical stacking to check load-bearing elements then being laid back horizontal for final closeouts before being loaded up onto the carry vehicle. It will be rolled out on Wednesday ahead of the launch date for a wet dress rehearsal to do a final check on the ground service equipment.

Luciole Purchases Umbra Space Industries

We finally know the name of the company that has been rumored to be purchasing USI for the past two months now, although additional information remains scarce. The company was founded late last year as a stealth startup and while we know they plan to continue USI’s quest for a 0.625m aerospike engine and are committed to a full-stack 0.625m launch vehicle, we won’t have any more details until their business and R&D leaders meet with ours later this month. What this means for the Progenitor program also remains unclear but the hope is that the fresh new company will be able to use their capital to settle the current lawsuit that is preventing Progeny rockets from launching and will also allow us to get the remaining parts we ordered for the final 2 Mk7-Bs.

KerBalloon Continues Success Streak

With the slow pace of rocketry and mostly all the funding put towards it still going into R&D, along with the Genesis program slowdown, the KerBalloon program remains our main source of reliable income month to month. The high-altitude crew successfully released both of their balloons during a month-long expedition out to the Badlands on the other side of the planet, while the low-altitude crew performed a release at sea offshore from the Great Desert. New contracts for both crews are already in negotiation.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 5,399 asteroids and 1 updated with new observation data. Here are the 48 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 7/10/20

Only 30min before I need to push this out so will be brief for now – I’ll come back and add stuff to this and the previous Desk Notes over the weekend. Made it back safe and feeling healthy from my 4th of July show which you can check out via a few tweets I made. Have lots to do still to get caught up and working on the upcoming launch. When I update this I’ll make an announcement on twitter. Or just check back next week.

Updated on 9/2/20

So yea, took me a while to get back to this 😛 We shall see how well I can remember what I wanted to say based on the notes I left behind so let’s see…


Development for the USI sounding rockets mod ceased a long while ago, and although the author has maintained compatibility with the latest KSP versions since then the parts were still originally developed years ago. It was nice to see a fresh option come from Luciole and to make things even better the mod includes an aerospike engine! This was the real selling point because I had to use the USI aerospike as there were no 0.35m options for a more traditional engine at the time. Given the advanced nature of the aerospike I decided scaling it up would be a technical problem R&D would have so I could justify using that initially before finally being able to use tweakscaled normal bell engines. Was going to let the tech just die but with Luciole it can still be a thing in the future with a 0.625m rocket.

New GPU rules

I bought an nvidia 2060 Super for my PC refresh to replace the AMD RX 460 I bought back in 2018 when I was supposed to get a new high-range card but the stupid bitcoin craze was in full swing and GPU prices were through the roof. The 460 served me quite well though to be honest for the games I was playing however I knew that for the new MS Flight Simulator I would need something beefier. The 2060 Super is 366% faster according to userbenchmark.com and I can really see that in KSP now when I go to take photos of Kerbin landscapes. This photo, for example, would be a slide show on my old card however now once everything loads in things are buttery smooth and it’s much less aggravating to move the camera around to setup the perfect shot.

Tweeting images of tweets, not links

Usually when I reference an older tweet I include the link to that tweet in the tweet and then it shows up embedded in the tweet. This is nice and all, but even though they reduced the amount of characters links take up in a tweet they still take up characters. So an alternative I’ve done is to just attach an image of the tweet instead, which isn’t great because now people have to click on the image to read the tweet. So it has its uses – I’m just surprised I never thought to do this before

Website timeouts

Shared hosting sucks sometimes. I was having a lot of time out errors around this time but I’ve actually just recently disabled the infinite scroll option on the main page and I think that may have helped. I think it’s really this WordPress theme needs to be updated, since I don’t ever get time outs for the Ops Tracker or any other WP blogs I host, but I’m hesitant to do so because I don’t want to spend time fixing anything that may break.

Mk1 mission

OMG so many notes. Okay, trying to think back… well yea so this was the first mission through the new Kerbalism radiation belts which I had to modify to revert to something approximating the old ones. The new ones are a lot more punishing, closer to Kerbin, but since I had already done a lot of work exploring and publishing data on the old one, I had no choice but to revert. I couldn’t just copy/paste the old values due to config changes but I got it close enough, thankfully the belts haven’t been explored that thoroughly.

These instruments were the same used on an earlier Mk1 mission but now I was using the new Kerbalism science mode, so was able to gather new data.

I realized during vessel configuration in the VAB that I never really made a consistent decision on what side of the Mk1 fuel tank would face the service towers. I doubt anyone ever noticed but still it was a bit annoying to me.

I’m not sure where Kerbalism gets the idea for how it handles science data transmission rates – I think it was just something they did to gameify the use of antennas rather than based on any actual transmission difficulties. So when you place antennae of different data rates on a vessel the combined data rate becomes averaged out between them, or something like that. Essentially you can’t have different antenna (like low-gain, high-gain) on their own “channels” sending data separately. This made configuring the craft to transmit at the proper data rate I had planned for using the various antenna I wanted a bit difficult as there’s no way to work around this other than to modify the antenna configs to… you know what? This will take forever to explain. I worked it out, but it was a pain in the ass, I will leave it at that.

The reason for the LES jettison was because I had to reload the vessel from a save file, and every time I reloaded the LES would shoot off. I tried so many things to keep that fucking thing on but finally threw up my hands and let it go. I needed to reload from a save because the science instruments inside the capsule were being marked as shielded by Kerbalism and thus could not be used. So I had to launch with a vessel that had them inside the capsule so FAR wouldn’t alter the aerodynamic shape and then reload with another version in space that had the instruments outside the capsule so I could actually use them.

The mission was originally supposed to fly like, halfway to Mun but I totally did not factor in the mass of the payload. That halfway to Mun capability of the Mk1 is real but for a payload mass a fraction of the size of what I ended up needing to launch for the actual mission. Whoops. Luckily I was able to salvage things by still being able to penetrate deep into the inner belt.

Then there was the little video of the capsule separating at the end of the mission. Yea it took me a few fucking hours as usual, which again is why I generally don’t make videos. Originally it was just initial separation, but then I wanted to see it do the flip retrograde so I had to hide the GRS back inside the capsule so after watching it retract it would go completely inside. This brought up some more save load issues to work around. Had to redo it all when I remembered how low the capsule is and that planet shine would be a thing so had to finally install the mod for it. Then on the next filming attempt fucking Kerbalism popped up a message, which is not hidden by F2 unless you set it to show as a normal KSP message which I thought I had enabled in the settings. Grrrrrrr……

Okay there are a few more notes but looking back on it – not all that relevant or important. Ta ta for now!