Mar 31 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 3/27/17

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Final Progeny Mk3 Ready for Launch

After full review of the previous launch was conducted, the decision was made to perform some more tweaks to the launch base and final rocket. The base pitch was adjusted from 6° to 5°, matching the angle used for the Progeny Mk2 launches. The rocket fins for the second flight were 1st stage 1°, 2nd stage 0.5° and 3rd stage 0.25°. These have been increased to 1st stage 1.5°, 2nd stage 1° and 3rd stage 0.75°. The larger increase to the upper-stage fins is due to the fact that these two boosters will be coasting longer than they will be under thrust. The main problem with the previous launch was how flat the boosters fell as they lost momentum. Although the same thing will happen again, the increased spin rate should slow down this pitch over. Additionally, we don’t plan to wait until the rocket gets that far over. The flight profile for this launch will wait only until the pitch of the rocket falls by 3° since the start of the coast period. This should be able to put the rocket into the upper atmosphere at last. The launch is still on schedule for 4/4 @ 20:00 UTC.

Progeny Mk4 Announced

Earlier this week we made it known that parts for the Mk4 had been ordered ahead of the delivery of the Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine, which is currently under development but with promising progress – Umbra Space Industries has informed us they expect to perform a full 31 second burn next week. Even should the engine be delayed, the Mk4 contains the same parts as the Mk3 with exception to the final stage booster – you can see the blueprint here. So we could continue to launch Mk3 rockets with only the additional purchase of some Mk1-B solid rocket engines. As soon as the parts arrive the VAB will begin regular integration of the boosters to prepare to launch either Mk4s or Mk3s in April & May.

Genesis Program – One Up, One Down

Although this week saw the very successful first science mission of the Civvie Production model, it turns out the aircraft is still in need of some improvements according to the test pilots Jeb and Val after they both logged some flight time in it. Additionally, C7 engineers want to give the entire air frame an inspection now that it has actually been flown (to extremes in some cases). You can read the improvements being made in this press release. Although the Civvie Prototype has been fully repaired, bad weather at the end of this week meant it had to stay on the ground, and then both test pilots accompanied the rest of the crew on a wilderness excursion exercise. However next week we hope to get the Prototype back in the air at last. Once the Production model returns to service, its next mission will be a test for deploying a KerBalloon from a mount on its underbelly.

This week the ASA investigation into the Civvie Prototype crash back in January was closed with the release of this report. We will be working to implement all the suggestions made by the investigation to make approaching Runway 09 safer in the future.

Related news for the Genesis program is the near-completion of Kravass General Airport, which has been under construction for the past 8 months in the valley just south of the main cavern. This airport will service both aircraft and airships and be the testbed for implementing new regulations that have been in work by the Air Safety Administration. It is here that we will eventually fly the Civvie Prototype to be retired at the Air History Museum.

Celestial Alignments & Events

The heavens were busy this week. First this past weekend was the start of double-transit season for Sarnus, which is when both Eeloo and Slate cast shadows on the planet’s cloud tops at the same time. Right now though we are only moving farther from the planet, however almost dead in the middle of the season when the shadows look the best we will be at opposition, or closest approach. On Monday we were at opposition with Jool, sharing a kerbolar longitude of 73.6° and coming as close as 53,803,793.880km. On Tuesday we reached conjunction with Dres, meaning we were on opposite sides of the sun. It was 51,469,203.363km away at farthest. Then today we reached conjunction with Duna, which was 35,382,466.181km away at furthest. Finally, tomorrow Duna will have completed its first orbit around the sun since the KSA began operations, so expect our usual retrospective infographic.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 419 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

It’s been a while since we showcased a Munar eclipse, so here is a photo of Mun rising while passing through the umbra of Kerbin shortly after sunset.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 3/4/17

Only a day behind, and this being the weekend I will definitely catch up today. I’m now 4 weeks ahead and that’s plenty to coast on, so after today I will be able to go back to the routine of banging out a day of ops and using the remainder of the time to work on other things. Well, I’m not entirely out of the woods yet since I still have a lot of database updating and mission log prepping to do for events that have transpired over the past 4 weeks in the KSA operations. I was originally planning to just handle them as they came up the actual day before, but that’s not really smart since I have the ability to schedule things well ahead of time I might as well use it fully. So technically I still have some catching up to do. After that it’s back to getting KSP v1.2.2 set up and running – just in time for the new update pre-release to drop! Yea, I knew that was going to happen but whatevs, that’s how it goes…

Rage Quit Flying

So I legit threw my flight controllers and screamed loud obscenities a few times after having so much fucking trouble getting the Civvie to cooperate because of the game’s retarded wheel physics and the lack of respect for stock trim controls by the Advanced Fly-by-Wire mod. So, here’s how I have the Civvie set up to actually fly in the game since the basic fixed landing gear are totally useless:

This setup using the retractable gear has the wheels at the proper spread and height relative to the fixed gear, along with the same mass thanks to tweakscale. The struts however add 0.1t to the aircraft over the version with the fixed gear, but I consider that to be negligible. Lately I was having trouble getting off the ground because it would roll fine until 40m/s when the tail wheel would come off the ground (as is proper) and then it would hit the smallest of bumps in the terrain and the main gear would launch the craft into the air before I had reached a flight speed of around 50m/s. By pitching down after the tail wheel comes up to keep the main wheels on the ground longer I can usually make it off the ground intact (for the record the pitch down is also a correct procedure for tail draggers taking off but bouncing into the air isn’t).

The other problem that threw me into a fit of rage was the fact that AFBW doesn’t respect the stock trim settings, so if you set the trim with the Alt-WASDQE keys and then move the joystick, the flight controls will all re-center and pitch/yaw/roll from a neutral position. I spoke about this in last week’s desk notes. Well, I thought I’d be okay just handling the roll with aileron trim but the Civvie is so twitchy along the roll axis I’m trimming left/right like mad to compensate & it’s just a pain in the ass. So I finally looked into the trim axis available through AFBW since I have two rollers on my throttle I’m not using. The AFBW trim worked fine in the flights I did this past week, however the way its setup is rather dumb, in my opinion. Rather than using the actual axis value to set the trim (move the axis 1/4 and have the trim set to 1/4) the trim tab is moved in the direction you twist the axis at a speed defined by the magnitude of the axis. So if I want to finely adjust my trim I need to twitch the axis roller to nudge the trim tab a little bit in either direction. ARRRRRGGGHHH!!! But it worked, even if it was super annoying to control this way. There’s a newer build for KSP v1.2.2 that is said to respect trim in its change log, so hopefully I can go back to stock trim soon.

A final frustration was being unable to stop my Saitek X52 from sending multiple button presses for a single click. Even though I created a macro that had a single key down/key up action, just pressing and holding the button to take a single screenshot produced 2-3 screenshots. So stopping/starting video was a complete clusterfuck because if it sent 2 actions the video recording would stop but then immediately start again. So I have to take my hand off the throttle to begin/stop recording during takeoff & landing, which is really annoying. But again – le sigh