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Apr 14 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 4/10/17

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Progeny Mk3 Flight 3 Analysis

With the recovery earlier today of the Mk1-A booster, we can hopefully get to the bottom of why the fins on that stage were shredded at the same time as the first stage. That will probably take up most of next week for the Progenitor engineers. In the meantime, data from the flight has been reviewed and everyone agrees that had the fin mishap not occurred we would have reached our goal of breaking through 18km and into the upper atmosphere. The relatively extreme drag produced by the spin-out of the second stage was the real killer in this launch, lowering the velocity of the rocket and not even allowing it to surpass 10km in altitude. Still, the good news from the last launch is that the first stage booster fell only 804m from the launch pad versus the 1.6km from the previous launch, where the fins acted as wings and allowed it to glide a considerable distance. We also had positive tracking of the second and third stage boosters into the water, falling in an uncontrolled tumble the whole way.

Since the last launch was unsuccessful, we have ordered additional mk1-B boosters, and the stacks currently under integration in the VAB for the Mk4 rockets will be used for at least one more Mk3 launch at the end of this month, date and time TBD.

New Genesis Program Aircraft: The Deuce

With the Civvie on its way to mass production after the successful testing done last week, C7 Aerospace has unveiled its next aircraft for the Genesis Program, the Deuce, which is multi-engine, multi-crew and passenger-capable. It will be constructed and tested next month with plans to enter service in June. At this time we are not entirely sure of where C7 wants to go following the completion of the Deuce and therefore the completion of the initial plan laid out for the Genesis Program. We have heard rumors of a jet turbine under development but so far C7 has not made an official statement. At this time our best guess is we will see either the debut of a jet-powered aircraft spearheading a new program or an even larger propeller-driven aircraft for Genesis.

Civvie Payload Operations Begin

With the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer instrument, we were able to get the first look at how the Civvie can handle carrying large objects on its underside. C7 is still reviewing the data collected during the flight that took place earlier today, but the Civvie at least was able to takeoff, fly and land without any serious issues coming to light. Assuming the data comes out looking good, the next step will be to unmount the science instrument and replace it with a KerBalloon attached via a radial decoupler so it can be dropped and deployed while in flight. Doing this will allow for high-atmospheric research to take place over land far from the KSC, since the rovers can carry extra fuel to make it to the recovery location, then collapse the empty fuel containers to make room for bringing back the payload.

Remises Surprise Encounter Frustrates Astronomers

Another event that occurred earlier today was the third known passage of Remises through the SOI of Mun. This was not supposed to happen until later this year, and only regular monitoring by astronomers allowed them to realize yesterday what was about to happen in a few short hours time. Remises has since returned to orbit around Kerbin and before astronomers even try to bother predicting the next encounter they will be carefully reviewing their orbital software to see if any bugs can be found.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 463 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Sure, we featured Minmus last week but like we said, there’s lots more to see of this moon. in this shot, it was rising in the east as the sun set to the west, causing the light to reach it to be bent through the atmosphere.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 3/22/17

Hopefully the last nasty snowstorm has passed through – March always needs to toss us one last slice of wintry hell. That combined with an Iron Fist binge (it was alright, okay?) has set me a bit behind schedule. I’m still 3+ weeks ahead though so rather than work extra hard to get back to 4 I’ll just make sure to do the next few weekends in a single day and eventually recoup my losses. Not planning any extended time away in the near future. Let’s discuss some things!

Bunker Photo Redo

So this past week the image of the astronauts in the bunker dropped. As I explained in these Desk Notes it was a bit of a pain in the butt to slice that image together, so I was really eager to see it go public at last. But the day before, I looked at it again and really hated that I had Val behind the camera and out of the shot. So I made the decision to insert her into the photo. The easiest way would be a selfie-style image, but I couldn’t fit her in adequately without having to also shift Bill over a little bit to the right so you could still see him waving, which meant I also had to reveal some buildings/landscape behind his head. But first things first – getting a shot of Val I could use. Luckily one of the animation poses I had already made gave her a nice head tilt, and I just had to position the camera properly and make sure the lighting was correct – I still lit her mouth a bit too much but if anyone asked I was ready to explain how she’s standing in front of the bunker doorway.

Val in Jeb’s pose. Female kerbals are rigged differently so her eyes ended up in a perfect position

Using KerbCam to get a proper selfie perspective then time-warping to make her smile

After I layered her into the photo to see how much I needed to move Bill, I then had to work to create the same kind of view looking out the bunker so I could add the buildings and landscape revealed behind his head. That was done fairly well using floaty to superimpose the original image, and knowing the time to set with HyperEdit for proper lighting (had to play with the Ambient Light Adjustment mod slider as well). I got it close enough that I was able to fudge things in Paint.NET so you won’t notice if you don’t look closely. Cutting out and moving Bill was relatively easy considering the bunker wall and floor is pretty uniform – the stain marks along the bottom gave me the most trouble. Final results:

Before

After

I’m really glad I did this, even though reddit wasn’t really that impressed. But I suppose people don’t really give much thought to the effort that goes into images like this. Ah well.

Overcast Skies for KSC

Damn it was really hard to make the skies completely overcast using Environmental Visual Enhancements. I crashed the game a few times while experimenting with how far I could push out the cloud particle rendering. Ultimately it came down to increasing the size of the cloud particles more than increasing the distance at which you could see them. I still don’t fully understand the numbers used by the plugin, but I eventually got a look I liked, then took the photos around mid-day to reduce the amount of shadows seen on the ground. Since the large cloud particles made things pretty hazy, I adjusted the contrast to bring out more definition, but go too far and you can see the borders of the 2D sprites clipping into each other, so a balance must be struck. Rain was a simple after-effect added by creating a bunch of noise and then applying a motion blur to all the pixels. If you’ve ever wondered why I’ve mentioned rain but never showed it, this is why.

Progeny Launch Notes

Took me three tries to get the rocket to behave the way I wanted it to, which is to say yes I purposefully destroyed the second-stage fins to cause a problem for this launch. The first try when I triggered the action group that was supposed to destroy all the fins (using the Kaboom mod) only the lower-stage fins were destroyed, and triggering the action group a few more times destroyed the remaining fins in progression. Ok, weird. Second time I tried again, I just spam-clicked the action group button (using Action Groups Extended) but than made it disappear and the button below moved up to its place, making me also destroy the 3rd stage fins. D’oh! Finally got it right on the third try.

However going back and re-creating the flight for a video was very problematic. For one thing, try as I might to do things the way I did in the original flight the fins on the third stage would suffer aerodynamic failure and rip off. I tried multiple times to the same effect. I double-checked aero failures were enabled in the save game I use for actual missions and they were. So I just disabled aero failures in my save game I use to recreate missions. Anyways, not being able to really re-create the flight is why there’s no extended launch video.

It’s interesting to note that during the launch I was able to respond to two tweets in a way that sets the stage for some things that happen in the future that I already scripted. One example is this tweet, which happens during the second launch, and another is this tweet, which happens during the third launch. Again, I had already done these things but was able to then foreshadow them without planning to. It’s dynamics like this that I find enjoyable about what I’m doing.

I also can’t believe I allowed this mistake to slip past several editing passes. Epic fail 😛

Finally, looks like my plan to quicksave with kOS on stage separations is a no-go because the game still imposes the limitation of quicksaving while under acceleration, so I will have to turn to the FMRS mod, which thanks to the awesome LinuxGuruGamer has now been updated to v1.2.2 of KSP

Deuce Design

It was a lot easier developing my second aircraft, and FAR was giving me green numbers pretty much right off the start of things after I had attached the wings and control surfaces. The original design did not include a split tail, but I realized when placing nav lights on the tail fin there was some texture Z-fighting going on and realized that even though I had placed a fin at 90° so only one was visible, I had MM symmetry selected at the time so two were placed in the same location. This then led me to try the split tail configuration and made me realize mounting and deploying payloads from the top of the fuselage would now be possible. Win!

Remises Encounter

I thought KSPTOT had things wrong, which is why I was keeping a close eye on Remises in the game and caught its intercept. I’ve notified the KSPTOT author and we’ll see if we can’t track down the issue.