Jun 09 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 6/5/17

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Progeny Mk4 Launch Analysis & Future Plans Detailed

The full report on the second launch of the Progeny Mk4 and plans for how we are going to move forward was posted earlier this week. As we mentioned in last week’s ops summary, the Mk4 has the capability to reach space, which is a relief to Progenitor engineers who were not looking forward to the added complexity of strapping on Mk1-B boosters or adding an LF/O tank section for additional thrust. Our next series of launches will play around with the ascent profile to see how changes to thrust and coasting periods affect the apokee of the rocket. Umbra Space Industries is continuing to move forward with a redesign of the engines across all three solid fuel boosters as well as finishing up work on the Automated Master Control Unit, which will be able to carry out commands programmed into its memory prior to launch. Once it is ready for use we will transition over to the final planned iteration of the Progeny series, the Mk5.

Pilirani’s Fate Unknown, Likely Impacted Water

Even though we were lucky enough to witness what scientists say had to have been the final pass through our atmosphere of Pilirani, no one saw it break up before it disappeared below the horizon as seen from Ockr City. Its estimated trajectory would have carried it out over mostly water, so that is most likely where it ended up impacting the surface. Still, the fact that no one can say for sure has only helped to fuel the belief of Monolith worshipers that this was no asteroid but really a space ship that was sent to collect “true believers” on its final pass – however no one can seem to find reports of anyone actually missing. There exists another, darker side to people obsessing over the Monolith and word from them is that this was a reconnaissance craft making an overflight of Kerbin civilization to check on the progress of our development. No one here at KSA gives these “theories” any serious attention.

What scientists have found interesting though is that the passage of Pilirani through the atmosphere has caused some very weird weather to erupt in the days that follow. Meteorologists are only beginning to study what has been going on, but all cities have reported lots of rain and very overcast skies, while here at KSC we experienced some damaging winds shortly after the final pass that came close to us. It’s suspected that particle material shed by the asteroid has lingered in the atmosphere – studies remain ongoing.

Finally in related news, it was confirmed that a second asteroid struck the water north of Kravass the same day Pilirani was due to make return passes through the atmosphere. Scientists still studying the area report clear evidence of high waves striking the shoreline, and are considering whether they want to attempt an underwater expedition to search for fragments.

KerBalloon Faces Recovery Issues

Both missions carried out this week by KerBalloon suffered problems when it came to recovering their payloads after landing. In the first mission two launch zones were so close together we deployed balloons simultaneously, both of which drifted east but then caught an upper-level stream of air that sent them west towards the mountains. During recovery one of the units was retrieved but the second was found to be inaccessible upon a high and steep slope, forcing us to call in a special search & rescue airship to retrieve it the following day.

The second mission was by far the most intriguing, as it appeared some sea creature found our parachutes appetizing. The MSV Lymun was in close proximity to the probe when it splashed down in the water and when its recovery craft approached to fish out the unit they saw the chute get pulled under, taking the balloon casing with it. Despite waiting and searching for it to re-appear, no sign of it was seen again. If it had been pulled down to a depth greater than 150m or so it’s likely the casing would have ruptured under the pressure and the unit would have sank even if the creature had released the chute or it had broken free (unlikely the chute lines would have parted though).

Marine experts have been consulted and note there are a few predatory species that go after large invertebrate animals, which they say our parachute might resemble to them. The KerBalloon team is looking into a way to have the chute cut itself off from the casing after touchdown to help ensure this doesn’t happen again. It also might explain what happened to the KerBalloon unit from this mission last year that also disappeared without a trace on relatively calm seas.

Civvie Science Flight & Deuce Completion

Genesis program saw a good week, starting with a purely science-driven flight of the Civvie equipped with an Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer to take high-resolution sample data of the surrounding Shores and Grasslands. The data was too much to store on the Civvie and so was transmitted via direct link to the Tracking Station. The antenna aboard the Civvie is powerful enough to send data at a rate approaching 512kb/s but understandably this drains more energy than the engine’s alternator can put out at full throttle so eventually the batteries will run down and need to be replaced. The are pretty big, so this operation can take upwards of 30-45 minutes. Captain Jebediah made two flights, meandering all about the surrounding areas while staying within visual range of KSC. While the mission did generate enough revenue to overcome the cost of deploying and fueling the Civvie, pretty much all gain was immediately spent on more batteries so future missions can be carried out – hopefully with additional backing from the Field Research Team in the R&D labs.

Other news from Genesis is that the Deuce has finished construction, which was started at the beginning of last month, and will begin ground trials next week. These trials will ensure that the engines, landing gear, control surfaces, electrical and fuel systems are all in working order before the aircraft is cleared to attempt takeoff and flight. Jeb is excited to be the first to have mitts-on the new aircraft since Commander Valentina was able to test the original Civvie while his arm was broken. Although the Deuce is a multi-crew aircraft it can just as easily be operated by a single pilot and given that we only have two we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket – plus Val is still away at Kravass through next week for the last training session of new Civvie flight instructors (which has been going well – no one has been injured or completely wrecked an aircraft yet).

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was skipped this week – we guess everyone was still too caught up in the excitement of Pilirani’s passing. We can tell you though that as of today the total asteroid count stands at 665 and there have been no new alerts.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

A wide-angle shot of the night sky, with the Lagoo Nebula stretching across in all its glory. You can also spot Sarnus, Urlum, Neidon and Duna.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 5/29/17

Making good progress again, today I want to also bang out the weekend following this report to very almost be two weeks ahead. Still going for three. I’ve had a few days this past week though where I just couldn’t sit at the computer any more and had to go make myself do something else, which is annoying because I also feel like I want to get further ahead on things. Ultimately I think I’m managing a good balance – I still play a few other games, watch movies and spend time with friends.

It’s official, I like this more than money

If you didn’t know, my main job is coaching gymnastics, both recreational and competitive. It pays the bills, but overall doesn’t leave me a lot of money to spend on things. A side-job to help fill out the coffers is being a pyrotechnician for Fireworks by Grucci. It’s hard work but good pay (and awesome payoff getting to stand beneath epic skysplosions). I’m always on the job for New Years and 4th of July but there’s one other show I do yearly down in Maryland that runs twice in two weeks, but when they called me up for it I had to tell them I was too busy. My coaching responsibilities have increased a lot recently, but I would be lying if I said that was the only reason (definitely the biggest though). I maybe could have swung going down for one week, but I’m also going to be away down in Florida for my yearly 4th of July show and I need to make sure KSA has a good lead going into that. I’m not complaining, I just found it interesting I could make this decision so easily.

More background on Pilirani

I had someone ask about names and revealed the origins of the two previously-named moonlets and Pilirani is no different – it really means what I said it means. I should note I haven’t mucked with asteroid heat tolerances and no mods I have mess with those either. There’s also the fact that asteroids don’t ablate material so its mass and shape stays the same after every aerobrake, however FAR does induce spin while it travels through the atmosphere and Persistent Rotation keeps it spinning afterwards for any future passes. I really didn’t have the time to put into making this event hyper-realistic and so I just let it play out the way it did – the final pass near KSC is what actually happened without me meddling with anything, and the events played out perfectly within the normal Eastern time zone I stick to. The second asteroid impact? Also a completely game-driven event that happened to coincide. It was a Class-E asteroid so I had to let it hit the surface. There was actually a Class-A asteroid that burned up unknowingly on the other side of the planet a day later! I know it all may come off as a bit scripted but ask yourself this – do you really think I wanted to give myself more work on a weekend?? 😛 You can thank Reentry Particle Effect for the cool particle tail in this photo, which was taken using Camera Tools to move the camera over to the KSC and then zoom in.

Civvie science data transmission w/Kerbalism signal mode

The Civvie mission this week was the first time I really exposed Kerbalism‘s signal mode, talking in detail about the transmission of science data in size and rate. Kerbalism converts science to Mb, so when I take an atmosphere reading I really do end up with nearly 800Mb of data which I then transmit to KSC at a data rate defined by the strength of the antenna and the distance to cover. Being so close to KSC meant I got nearly the max rate of 512kb/s. It’s a very nice realism mechanic and works well, although I’m still not completely sure I have it balanced to my liking.

Fixed gear landings

I still can’t take off, but I have at least managed to land with the fixed gear without completely flipping out in the process. Here are two examples, both from the recent flight this past week. You can see me tapping the brakes any time the wheels are in contact with the ground to try to get under 20m/s as quickly as possible. It’s still very touchy tho. For takeoffs I still just drop from about 500 meters, recover and fly low over the ground then climb out, but I’m considering trying to disable friction control completely for the wheels while in my takeoff roll to see if that keeps me from swerving.

KSP v1.3

So the new KSP version dropped this past weekend and of course I’m still stuck on v1.2.2 until mods update, but that’s not really a surprise and there’s really nothing huge about v1.3 that has me chomping at the bit to update. As of today, this is where I stand on the list of required mods for my upgrade. I’m not really worried about any of the mods on that list not getting an update, so now it’s just a matter of patience.