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Aug 14 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/3 & 8/10/20

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Progenitor First Mk7-B Launch Partially Successful

Nearly a year after the Mk7-A flew and after numerous delays the Mk7-B finally took off on its first mission earlier today. The rocket’s initial ascent was horridly turbulent – at this time we are unsure whether it was a guidance control issue or unforeseen disturbance in the atmosphere. The result of this was a slower ascent due to drag losses that caused the rocket to only reach 84km apokee instead of the planned altitude of ~160km. Despite the lack of time in space controllers were still able to restart the Ospray vacuum engine, the first time the Ospray has been restarted in flight. Although the second stage was found broken and damaged, the first stage was recovered intact.

We won’t be able to inspect the second stage until after it is returned this weekend but reports are that the lower half of the fuel tank was ripped off, taking the engine with it, which was a vital part that we had hoped to recover for post-flight analysis. The rocket likely broke apart during the plasma blackout because no telemetry signal was received by the Aldeny after initial comms loss and the overall damage on the exterior does extend to the flight computer. Teams will be working hard over the coming week on post-flight analysis to determine if any major changes need to be made before the next flight later this month.

Genesis Program Shuts Down Operations

The writing has been on the wall for a while now but the Genesis program officially and quietly ended operations at the end of July. The two aircraft that we currently operate, a Deuce and Civvie, will now fall under control of KSC in general and while they will be at our disposal as well, we will not be using them for any future missions. Both aircraft designs along with the Dhumla that were developed under the program will continue to be manufactured by C7 Aerospace Division, which is also working on new designs for propeller-based aircraft as well as continuing work on jet turbines. Our R&D labs continue to participate as well.

The Horizontal Assembly Building will become the new home of the Progenitor program, as their rockets, both present and future, will be able to fit inside even when stacked vertically. This will clear up room in the VAB for larger and larger Ascension rockets as the program moves forward.

Ascension Program Reviews Recent Missions

With the next Ascension Mk2 launch delayed to allow for the Progeny Mk7-B missions this month, the Ascension teams have been pouring over data from their past two missions to prepare for future ones. The unkerbed mission launched back in June finally got a post-flight analysis after lots of hard work to recreate the computer glitch that caused the Launch Escape System tower to decouple in flight.

All 4 astronauts are currently undergoing medical exams and centrifuge training as part of post-analysis to the recent kerbed mission to better understand how re-entry forces affect kerbal physiology after Specialist Bob blacked out returning from space.

Alaba Predicted to Eject from Kerbin System

The latest prediction from ATN astronomers has Alaba getting kicked back out to kerbolar orbit in October after its 49th encounter with Mun. Although past predictions have not been accurate in foretelling Alaba’s fate, this one is only two months out and for the first time starts to take into account close Mun encounters’ effect on the resulting trajectory. Still, there’s always a chance astronomers are wrong and new things need to be learned to compensate for the errors uncovered, but if not we will at last have to say goodbye to the longest known visitor to our planetary system.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 5,562 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 38 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/14/20

IMO this was a crappy Ops Summary. Should have lots more depth and back links to historical references, but once again I’m up against the wall and barely managing to get this all done in time. It’s getting really annoying and it’s no one’s fault but my own. I’m going to be dedicating the next week to putting up at least 2wks worth of lead time and continuing to build from there. I’m going to use the off-weeks when no Ops Summary is posted to go back and start filling out these desk notes I’ve neglected – including this one!