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Apr 28 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 4/24/17

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Progenitor Program Reaches Upper Atmosphere

At long last, after numerous setbacks and failed launches, the Progenitor program claimed victory earlier today when it launched a Progeny Mk3 rocket into the upper atmosphere, attaining a maximum height (apokee) of 22,771.90m before falling back to Kerbin and being recovered from the Kerblantic by the Maritime Service Vessel Lymun 9.2km ESE of the launch pad. Full analysis of the launch data will have to wait until the teams return from a well-deserved vacation for most of next week but as with all launches we expect to learn a lot. Although the goal of 18+km has been reached we still have a ways to go and data from this launch will help show us how to get there. Still, rounding upwards we have reached 1/3 of the way to space, which puts a significant portion of the thicker atmosphere behind us. After igniting, the third stage boosted for a mere 2.4s whereas the upcoming Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine will have a run time of 31s. Could the first Progeny Mk4 reach space? Engineers say it is possible, but no one is getting their hopes up and are ready for another long slog with the Mk4 to get completely out of the atmosphere. You can also watch a video of the launch below to see how the fin shredding is supposed to work after the debacle of the previous launch. You don’t see the third stage fins explode because they are timed to shred several seconds later than the previous stages to ensure the booster drifts far enough away to not damage the payload with any debris.

Expect more news from the Progenitor teams next week after we return to regular ops.

Genesis Program Updates

This was a busy week for the Genesis program, which received its shipment of all the parts needed to begin building its new Deuce aircraft at the start of next month. The Civvie Production model trim wheel has been repaired but we are keeping it in the HAB to get it further prepped for the next joint KerBalloon/Genesis mission in May, which was announced today to take place on the 8th. It will cover a similar area to this month’s mission so the logistics of the operation will not change much. Capt Jeb will be back to fly this mission while Cdr Val takes his place training upcoming Civvie flight instructors over at Kravass General Airport. While Jeb has been away and the Civvie Production model in the HAB, Val has taken the Civvie Prototype out on two separate missions (1 | 2) this past week for science contracts. Finally, we’ve used most of this month’s profits to place a purchase order for two more Civvies and will get the 1st and 3rd units to roll off the new production line next month. The 2nd & 4th will go to the training program at Kravass. This will continue to give us the ability to operate two aircraft simultaneously while also now having a third in reserve. We still plan to retire the Civvie Prototype in the Kravass City Air History Museum, which will happen when we accept delivery of the first new Civvie as Jeb flies over the Prototype to bring back the new aircraft.

New Remises Prediction

Despite their best efforts astronomers could not determine the fault that led them to inaccurately predict that Remises would encounter Mun later this year, when in fact it just recently passed through Mun’s SOI for the 3rd time since it was discovered. They are hoping it was simply a data-entry error and so after triple-checking their observations they have plugged the numbers in again to their orbital calculations and have come up with a new prediction for the next Munar SOI pass: Sept 7th of this year. They will continue to monitor Remises on a regular basis to ensure it doesn’t prematurely encounter Mun without their knowledge should there still be some error in their prediction.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 494 asteroids. The ATN has also announced they have completed upgrades to key scopes in their network, and are expecting to see a small bump in discovery rates moving forward. The big gains won’t come until their remote observatory posts begin to come online in 2019. The candidate sites have all been identified and final selections are expected in May.

In related news the Arekibo radio telescope project remains behind schedule, facing more access problems than they anticipated to the construction site. They hope to finally begin blasting the dish basin by mid-May.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Not just two planets at appulse in this photo, but two pairs of planets! Duna and Sarnus gather up top while Eve and Urlum buddy up below. Neidon also makes its dawn appearance.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 4/15/17

Still holding on to a two week lead, and the “vacation” for the KSA after this last launch will help, although I still have to go through each day and monitor asteroids and keep an eye on Kerbin’s moonlets and any celestial happenings, I can at least progress faster than during a “normal” day of operations. Hopefully over this weekend I can catch back up to 3 weeks and ease back on the throttle and have more spare time for other stuff, which would be great because I really really really want to see if I can get this 3D model of the Kerbol system working in my flight tracker with the OPM planets and moons added as well. Replacing those static image maps would be awesome.

Civvie Mk2 Redo

So this week was the first time I tried to fly the Civvie Mk2 Prototype aircraft in v1.2.2. I had previously flown the Production model with no real issues, but the Mk2 was a whole different story. For some reason it really really likes to pitch up now and I don’t really know what has changed. I removed the chute on top (just when I’m flying not officially) in case some FAR/RealChute bug was at play and also changed the landing gear from the two-wheeled medium gear attached straight to the wings to the one-wheeled light gear strutted to the fuselage at the same height/width as the fixed landing gear (can’t use those at all). That helped but I was still forced to apply a permanent amount of down-pitch trim to get the aircraft to handle close to what it did in v1.1.3 (I have videos of every flight so I can go back and check). And although I did attempt a normal takeoff it didn’t want to cooperate and so I’m using flying starts for this one too.

4th Time is the Charm

Okay so really 3rd time since I deliberately messed with the last launch, which could have reached the upper atmosphere. But where’s the drama in that? This was also the first time launching the Mk3 in v1.2.2 so I expected problems and there were some – mainly the fact that all the boosters had their atmosphere curves changed so the performed differently. The first-stage booster accelerated the stack so fast the rocket came apart shortly after it finished its burn! So I went back and checked the values I was using in v1.1.3 and was stunned to find all 3 boosters had the same atmosphere curves. This was astonishing because I had discovered this before even rebooting the KSA and called out RoverDude on it, who then released a fix shortly before the reboot and so I could have sworn I was using boosters in v1.1.3 that each had different atmosphere curves – but I wasn’t?? What the crap!? Even the ISP numbers you see when you hover over the engines for the rocket pages is what I thought was being used (have since updated them to all be the same now). This would be a huge retcon that I couldn’t begin to even handle, soooo now I have the ability to “upgrade” these booster should I need to down the line. Yeeesh.

The flight itself took the usual few tries to get right. The first attempt is when I realized something was wrong with the booster performance, the second I panicked when the payload actually splashed down in water and rushed to recover it before it sank too far (which I know now isn’t possible, you can recover it even from the ocean floor) and forgot to save the Persistent Trails or Graphotron data. The third launch I somehow forgot to set the Graphotron to enable on launch, even though I literally have a checklist I follow that has the item to set that option. Epic fail. Finally I pulled it off properly on the 4th launch. How symbolic.

Filming the recreation was easier than I thought it would be, although that came with a few minor issues as well. The final result was consistently so close to the actual flight that I just recorded the whole thing in a single take after the initial launch.

I initially had the payload landing on the deck of the recovery ship until I realized just how fast 4.6m/s is so I had it land close by in the water.

Also I should note that leaving the rocket out the night before came as an idea from the previous launch, it wasn’t an idea I used in the previous launch because I had planned to do it this launch.

Flight Tracker Overhaul

I think I’m getting close to the point where I can begin work on the next major version bump for the Flight Tracker. All the major systems are in place and while there are improvements I want to do to existing features (like the 3D system applet mentioned above) there really aren’t any more major features I want to add (the Deep Space Network communications page would be a separate thing). Flight Tracker/Crew Roster v5 will be done completely in Javascript, using AJAX to place calls to ASP scripts to pull information from the database. This means that I can update various parts of the page without having to reload the entire page in the process. I like that. I should also be able to integrate notifications better and everything should just run cleaner, mainly in the code which I will clean up a lot.

Dunno when I’m going to have time to start this but it’s definitely on my radar now.