Apr 07 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 4/3/17

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Progeny Mk3 Launch Scrubbed Due to Debris Issue

The final launch of the Progeny Mk3 was progressing well on launch day until shortly before the rocket had finished mounting we got word of debris from the previous launch being found 6km south of KSC along the beach. Losing track of our boosters is a big deal, and before it could happen again the launch was scrubbed shortly after the rocket mounting had completed. For more details on the scrub and reasons behind it, see this press release. Since then, the Progenitor teams have put their heads together and come up with a rather simple solution. The reason the boosters are “flying” over long distances is due to the fins on the rockets, so we have installed low-yield det-cord in the fins of this last Mk3 which when triggered upon stage decoupling will effectively shred the fins to pieces, causing the boosters to tumble down into the ocean as they are supposed to. We are still on schedule now for the new launch time next week of 20:20 UTC on April 11th.

In other Progenitor news, the Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine underwent its first complete 31s burn test without any issues, a huge milestone for the development of the engine. If all continues to proceed on schedule we should be able to take delivery of the engine in May, allowing us to transition almost immediately to the Progeny Mk4 – and space? Hopefully!

Civvie Prototype Flies Again, Rwy09 Re-Opened

The Genesis program had another good week, starting off with seeing the Civvie Prototype return to flight-ready status after repairs were finally completed to the craft since it was crashed by Captain Jeb back at the end of January. Ironically, it was Captain Jeb’s turn to rotate into the pilot’s seat to take the aircraft up for a quick shakedown flight to ensure everything was in working order. He successfully flew the pattern and landed back on Rwy27 with no issues to report. While the Production model is out of service receiving some upgrades and tweaks, the Prototype can fulfill any observation contracts we receive.

The other event this week related to Genesis was the re-opening of Runway 09 to landings, another effect of the crash from back in January. After reviewing the Air Safety Administration’s full report on the incident, C7 put in place approach markers which the pilots could keep in sight in order to ensure they were high enough to miss the final terrain before the flat KSC floodplain. Commander Val did another quick test flight in the Civvie Prototype to ensure that the markers were placed properly to allow her to approach the runway without having to worry so much about her ground clearance. She made it over the final terrain features with a comfortable 80m to spare (we wanted at least 50m clearance) and landed with only a small issue on approach similar to Jeb as they both had to re-accustom themselves to the heavier weight of the Civvie Prototype.

Remises Sticking Around Through November

Astronomers did a conservative 3-encounter orbit plot that takes Remises through the month of November and they have found it won’t be getting kicked out or tossed into Kerbin by that time. The orbits though show no clear progression towards either end and at that point they stopped in order to return to observations and will see how well their predictions turn out before bothering to look ahead any further.

Duna Completes One Orbit

As the days go by, the planets continue to creep along their slow paths around the sun. At the start of this week Duna completed its travels, coming back to the same spot where it was when the KSA began operations back in September of last year. As usual, we have made an infographic depicting the orbit of Duna and marked all the major events that have occurred in the time since. You can page back through the album to review earlier periods.

The next planet to complete its orbit will be Dres nearly one year from now on March 21st, 2018.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 445 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Minmus can be a tricky target to locate when it passes near the sun, even when it does so at close to greatest inclination of 6°. However the sight can be rather stunning since it seems to blend so well within the daytime sky. In the image below, some sheen can be seen off the mineral-rich flatlands that cover part of Minmus’ surface and could one day provide valuable mining resources.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 3/11/17

I’m writing this a day late but real life has actually been busy lately. However it’s nothing bad, just that the day job of coaching gymnastics can require some extra hours of work every now and then if I need to sub for other coaches. Also got the car’s oil changed & went and saw Logan. So awesome. I hope Dafne Keen gets to truly grown up to be the next Wolverine in an X-23 film. Anyways, I have a few notes for this week:

Losing Track of Astronauts

I may have to consider some sort of simple spreadsheet for tracking where the astronauts are on a given day, because twice recently I’ve almost made the mistake of allowing someone to be where they shouldn’t. First example was a photo I took of the launch pad and I was going to say Bob took it, until I remembered all the astronauts were away on an excursion and he couldn’t have been there to take it. So I just tossed out the image – it was mostly filler anyways. But then as I was reviewing a tweet that was going to be published in a few hours, I realized I had done it again. This image was going to be credited to Bob, but he was off on the MSV Tongjess waiting to launch a high-altitude balloon at the time, so I quick switched it to Val just a few hours before the tweet was published. Almost missed that one! (In fact, while writing this I realized the flickr image still credited Bob. Bah!)

Progeny Mk3 Scrub Was Legit

Yes, I really did end up with a second stage booster falling 6km from the KSC when I simulated the launch again for recording the video. So I realized that was pretty far and everyone would have originally seen it head out over the ocean and figured it was reasonable for them to assume that’s where it ended up. Then I decided it should be found on launch day because of course we’d go through the trouble of getting ready to launch when something like that happens. So this was another example of a situation in the story that was only half-engineered by me.

In related news, I’m going to start using kOS to do two things for me during launch – register the exact times I hit the Stage key and save the game when I do. This way I can better recreate rocket launches when recording video, and I can reload the exact scenario when I go back to see what happens to the spent stages.

Experimenting with GeoGebra

I’ve been turned on to GeoGebra by this forum thread where a user created a top-down view of the stock Kerbol system. Given that GeoGebra has an interactive web application, I’m seriously considering whether I can use this to create a dynamic version of the orbital position maps currently included in the Flight Tracker. This would be a huge time saver in the long run. Even though I can generate these images for a week mostly automatically and get them all ready to upload in 30-45 minutes, moving forward with more space objects and potentially more bodies things will start to get more complicated for rendering the graphs. Being able to just input some orbital data and having the body/craft be rendered for a given date/time would be a great thing. Currently it’s topping my ToDo list for new Flight Tracker features but I don’t know how long it will take me to grok the math needed.

KerbalMaps Stalled

One of the reasons GeoGebra is a nice distraction at the moment is because progress on replacing KerbalMaps since the original author disappeared has stalled once again. We had a good group message chat going over on the forums for a few days but the developer behind the new version has since stopped communicating for the past almost 3 weeks and although I poked him once on twitter and see that he’s active & talking to people on twitter I’ve gotten no response. So no idea what the current status is, but I do plan to try to reach him again in a month or so if nothing happens from him before then.

Approach Markers

So these markers have actually been at the apron to the runway since I started playing v1.1.3 of KSP because for some reason I couldn’t get Kerbal Konstructs to delete them like I did with all the other KSC Upgrade items I didn’t want (yet). I’ve had to remove them from some images but they’ve always been so small and far in the background it hasn’t been a big deal. Thanks to the Civvie crash tho (not a purposeful thing I did) I decided since I couldn’t delete them I might as well put them to use and move them out into the grasslands and make them an actual thing so I could have them in images and not worry about it. Well I moved them out there and when I reloaded the game another pair of marker objects had taken their place, even though I edited the original objects. FML.

Fortunately in v1.2.2 of KSP I’m able to delete them.

Also this image is edited, as most images are. Having the sun face them turns them into obnoxiously bright white markers because the surfaces of the model are untextured and reflective. So the markers themselves were photographed when the sun was behind them then the time instantly switched to later in the day via HyperEdit for another photo which was then layered atop and the marker surfaces erased to expose the darker, earlier-day photo.