Mar 10 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 3/6/17

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KerBalloon Missions Set Progenitor Program for Recovery

This past week saw sea launches & recoveries with a high-altitude and low-altitude balloon, both of which were carried out successfully. However in addition to carrying out contracts, the missions also simulated the recovery of rocket payloads out at sea with the help of a Maritime Service Vessel (in this case, the MSV Tongjess, with a crew that is experienced in operating with us at sea). While rocket recoveries at sea are great because it allows us to launch east away from KSC and with the spin of Kerbin, there is the issue of the rocket payload not being buoyant enough to float after splashdown. KerBalloon probes use the empty balloon casing to stay afloat, but without that the payload truss will sink straight to the bottom of the ocean after it lands in the water. Before we tried to complicate the rocket by adding some sort of floating airbag to deploy after splashdown, we instead decided to try complicating our recovery procedures first.

For the first KerBalloon mission, as the probe descended under its parachute the launch craft from the Tongjess maneuvered itself underneath it so it landed on the deck of the ship. This would be the optimal recovery method for rocket payloads. In the event that they do end up in the water however, the second KerBalloon was launched with a rocket parachute rather than the KerBalloon chute units and allowed to splashdown next to the launch craft so the crew could observe how well the parachute floated in the water. It did stay on the surface for almost a minute, however there was also no pull from a sinking payload and sea conditions were a bit choppy. Should the launch craft miss the payload, Bob reports that they will still be close enough to snag the parachute to drag the payload out of the water before the whole thing sinks.

The recovery tests going well has been a huge relief for the Progenitor Program. We look forward to doing it for real next week! Reminder that the first Progeny Mk3 launch is still on schedule for 3/15 @ 18:45 UTC.

Meeny Returns to Interplanetary Space

Yesterday Meeny departed the Kerbin system after getting kicked out by Mun on its last pass through its SOI. We’re sad to see it go as it was the largest of the three moonlets captured so far and would have made for a nice scientific target. Now that it’s back out in sun orbit with all the rest, its significance is no longer worth any consideration for a future mission. The Asteroid Tracking Network remains in charge of keeping an eye on it, and will be doing so over the next several days to determine its new trajectory around the sun. Once they have the orbit nailed down, we’ll find out whether Meeny will ever be passing through the system again, although it’s highly unlikely it would also pass close enough to Mun for another capture.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 364 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Val stayed up late to catch both Mun and Kerbol setting over the western mountains as seen from the balcony of the astronaut complex, also know as a partial (or Annular here at the equator) eclipse.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 2/10/17

Moving right along, sticking very well to my schedule of banging out a day of KSA ops and then filling out whatever time remains with working on related projects. Right now that would mean getting my KSP v1.2.2 installation setup. This is not a simple process. After renaming my KSP directory I redownloaded everything for the v1.2.2 patch and then saved it all into a ZIP archive so I have a clean copy whenever I need it. Then it was time to diffcheck the settings and physics config files so I could re-apply any changes I made and see what was added/changed by Squad that I would have to setup or account for. Then it was time to create a new save file and run another diffcheck against my current v1.1.3 save to see where I needed to make edits so they would match up – this was made very easy considering I have no active vessels!

All that out of the way, I’m now in the process of installing mods one at a time. This is to ensure that when a problem or incompatibility pops up, I know exactly what mod caused it. Then I look into it and determine if it’s actually a problem or a benign error/exception. Right now I’m focusing only on the DLL-heavy mods that will exist in my GameData under any play situation. Once I get all those “basics” installed I will move on to the part-heavy mods, again going one by one and then removing them from GameData once I’ve confirmed there are no major issues and storing them in a Build folder. Eventually I will throw them all in together but for now the procedure is to check them out individually. Then I’ll have two main folders, a GameData – Build and GameData. When I want all my parts available to look at constructing a new vessel, I will just rename GameData – Build to GameData and GameData to GameData – Normal. I create batch files that let me copy parts from the Build folder into the regular GameData and also to delete those parts from GameData. End result is I always have only the parts I need installed and always have all the parts available to me when I need them. This is mainly to reduce load times, as under v1.1.3 with all parts installed it can take upwards of 30 minutes to load the game, but in my slimmed-down version with just the parts I need it’s about 3 minutes.

I expect this process to take another week, hopefully by then FAR will finally be updated but if not I will grab the developer build and that will allow me to work completely on v1.2.2. Well, almost. UntilĀ Custom Asteroids is updated I will need to go back to my v1.1.3 install just to take care of ATN-related tasks. That will be slightly annoying but not a huge deal. The CA author was online recently and should have a playable dev build if he’s willing to release it.

[Update 3/9/17 – still working to get v1.2.2 fully setup after falling slightly behind in gameplay again. Still no official FAR release but the good news is that Custom Asteroids was update to v1.2.2 so now I can completely toss aside v1.1.3 when I move up, eventually. yay!]

I’ve also had to spend some time tweaking the Scatterer settings for Jool to bring it closer to the way it looked in v1.1.3 – unfortunately I couldn’t get a perfect match and to be honest I like the new look better so I will need to retcon images on flickr. It’s too bad I can’t re-upload new images for my past tweets. I will delete the tweets but modify the archive tweets to show the new images. I also plan to delete the instagram images and repost them over time with the new Jool look. Here’s a comparison:

KSP v1.2.2

KSP v1.1.3

Another thing I did recently was attempt to make see-through cockpit windows. It was easier than I thought it would be. The second image took me all of 8 minutes:

So there are three layers at work here – one with the opaque cockpit, another with the internal view enabled, and a third zoomed forward/back to see whats beyond the cockpit. At close range this third view is tricky to get, but for objects in the distance changing the zoom doesn’t really affect their position on the screen. Stacking these atop each other I then use the Magic Wand tool in Paint.NET to select the foreground windows, still need to do a bit of manual selection to clean things up but then extract them into their own layer. I do the same with the background windows exposed via the internal view. Then I apply a Glow blending mode for the foreground windows and adjust the layer transparency. I generally don’t have to blend the background windows, just adjust their layer transparency. I really like the results.

Unfortunately this doesn’t work well with the Civvie because the internal cockpit model doesn’t align well with the external model so that takes a great deal more effort. I might do it still tho, not sure. The initial attempt I made was not encouraging, but if I bang my head against it more I could maybe pull off something decent. We’ll see.