Jul 02 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 6/26/17

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Extremis Program Explores the Kerbol System – and Beyond!

We finally announced our oft-hinted interplanetary probe program earlier today. That post contains all the information we are able to release at this time, however now that the program has been officially formed with a team dedicated to it you should start seeing a lot more updates in the coming weeks and months. This endeavor will tie closely to the outcome of our orbital program, which will be formed once we have a better idea of the delta-v requirements necessary to reach space, as from there we can easily determine how much delta-v is needed to achieve orbital velocity. Once we have this information from the Progenitor program we can lock in design specifications and move forward with our orbital program.

KerBalloon Ponders Logistical Issues

Several high-altitude missions were launched this week by KerBalloon, and all were successful. The mission north of KSC presented a bit of a problem in initially acquiring the signal of the payload after it had cleared the horizon because the VAB was actually blocking the signal (the building is shielded to protect the sensitive electronics of payloads prepared within). To get around this for future missions we will be mounting a small dish atop the VAB that will be used solely for tracking distant objects over the horizon – it will not be able to elevate, but will be able to swivel to point anywhere along the horizon. The dish should be installed by the end of July. The second mission of the week was carried out at sea with no issues, launching two separate payloads off the deck of the MSV Lymun.

We are also looking closely into purchasing our own airship. We have worked well with the charter lines so far, using them to recover hard to reach payloads, rescue crew and relay communications over the horizon, but the cost of renting their services has taken a large chunk out of the profits for KerBalloon. The fact that the program is still highly profitable (net income to date is 163,885 while Genesis & Progenitor are both in the red) only serves to prove that we could earn back the investment in our own airship rapidly. however there is more to owning an airship than the initial purchase cost. In addition to any maintenance that will be required as well as hiring on a crew to run it we will have to store it. Currently airships are tucked away in underground hangars at the various cities they are based from. We do not have a structure large enough to house an airship of the size that would be suitable for our purposes. Building one isn’t an issue but we have to consider any future expansion of the KSC to ensure that we are not forced to build around it – because it will be a massive building that will not move once it has been laid down. We are also looking into renting or hollowing out a berth at Umbarg.

Genesis Continues Civvie Science Flights and Deuce Investigation

This past week saw only a single Civvie flight thanks to a hydraulics cable leaking and causing Captain Jeb to gradually lose the ability to maneuver the control surfaces with ease. Thankfully he was able to make it back to KSC before the aircraft became completely unmaneuverable and performed a great non-standard approach over the bay in order to get back on the ground as quickly as possible once the problem became apparent. The aircraft has since been repaired and is ready to be redeployed once the weather is agreeable for an atmosphere sampling mission out over the West Shore Desert. Val will rotate into the cockpit for that mission.

Investigation into the crash of the Deuce is wrapping up and we expect to hear a final verdict sometime next week. All mechanical issues have been ruled out after inspection of the engines showed they were operating normally at the time of impact. The fuel system issue that was identified during the ground trial was also determined not to be a factor. Interviews with the HAB & ground crew, as well as Captain Jeb, have all been conducted and the aircraft’s short maintenance history has been examined. C7 engineers are now focusing on the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft, given that Jeb reported a large amount of sideslip in flight and a left-roll tendency at stick neutral. It is suspected the tail design may need some reworking.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 736 asteroids, 9 updated observations and no new alerts.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

The team that was observing yesterday’s transit of Minmus returned to Kravass from the Great Desert where they setup a temporary observatory for the event and we now have an updated transit composite. The desert outpost was done not only for a high chance of clear skies but because it was the place where they could see the transit for the longest length of time. Even still, they won’t be able to see the entire event. The next transit of Minmus is January of 2019, although if anyone goes above 40°N latitude they will be able to see Minmus transit again in late August of this year.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 6/17/17

Casual gaming with GTA Online goes not as planned

So for the past few months Uncharted 4 multiplayer has been my casual gaming choice for something to do when I’m done working KSP stuff for the day and just need to wind down a bit more before trying to get some sleep. I have just a teeny bit of gamer rage when playing competitive games and after destroying my second PS4 controller I figured it was time to call it quits 😛 I decided to hop back into GTA Online since another friend of mine had it for PC. I created my new character, logged on and played through some of the tutorial missions and was literally just about to jump into a Time Trial to start earning cash and reputation points to begin building my career when all of the sudden I started receiving $50,000 every second along with like 1,000 RP – and I was like “what the hell, no, no, no, no, no!” but of course I couldn’t make myself log out. I watched as people in the text chat cried out in joy and thankfulness for the modder heaping cash & RP upon us all and was like “well, maybe this isn’t so bad?” Finally after accruing north of $10M and like level 60 I decided enough was enough and logged off. Then I went searching online for whether or not I was going to be banned in the next few days. Verdict: No. Turns out Rockstar will probably reset my cash accounts but I’ll keep my level and anything I purchased before then. So I logged back in and started to go on a hardcore shopping spree, and along the way I managed to land in a session that got hit by more money and RP to where I had like $25M and now I’m level 90ish. Needless to say when my friend finally logged on the next day I took him straight to my $7.6M yacht parked off the coast and he was like “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?! Didn’t you just start??” The next day when we were online together another modder came into our session and started dumping $$$ and RP – while at the same time doing things like spawning us all atop Mt Chilead with every possible weapon given to us (where of course a huge brawl would break out). Sometimes we’d be floating in the air all doing push ups, or like a few dozen rocket cars would spawn overhead and kill anyone they landed on, the rest would get in and fly off. One time we spawned in downtown LS with cars floating up off the streets then crashing back down kinda like the terraformer effect in Man of Steel. It was pretty nuts. At the end of it all I had north of $60M and I’m like level 124. So far R* has taken back only $25M-ish and worried they would take back more I spent the next two days buying up everything I possibly could and modding the crap out of every car in all my 5 properties…

So yea. I expected to take it slow in GTA Online and ended up binging the crap out of it these past few days in order to set myself up with all the money I got. If you’re wondering why T2 is shutting down modding services, this is why. I can’t really say I blame them – the cheating was rampant. Anyways, that’s why it took so long for me to get this week’s work done. Good times…

Heat problems

Two days this past week were north of 90°F and I don’t have air conditioning here. I do have good ventilation, so if it’s 95 outside it is 95 in here and not any hotter but 95 is still 95 and way damn hot. I noticed when playing GTA even during the evenings after a while my framerates would tank because my GPU was shutting itself partially down to prevent a literal meltdown. One of the days I had planned to work until it got too hot then head to the mall to cool off and see Wonder Woman. Well, I didn’t even get to where I was ready to switch off my computer before it abruptly shut itself off. Yikes. Thankfully I managed not to lose any data in the apps I had running at the time. That was 5 days ago now and since then it’s been running perfectly fine now that the temps are back to below 85°F. This will be my first full summer in my new place, so I’m still waiting to decide if I really need to shell out a few hundred bucks some A/C or not. May be able to just get by with one of those simple ice bucket coolers you can build yourself.

“Hydraulic leak”

Yea so I was flying in the Civvie and I have a new mod installed (PhysicalTimeRatioViewer) that lets me see what fraction of real time the game is running in. As the flight progressed I saw the percentage drop steadily from 98% all the way down to 50% and sometimes lower, which meant the game was running 1 second for every 2 real world seconds and getting worse. Hence, the Civvie developed a leak in its hydraulic system and Jeb had to cut the mission short. Now that I know it’s an issue that worsens as the game is running I will switch back to the previous Kopernicus version for the next flight and see if the problem persists.

Financial readjustments

There is a reason you can only view the previous month’s finance sheets via KSA’s Google Sheets page and it’s not just because each sheet already includes the prior months, but because I tend to go back and tweak income/expense numbers sometimes and no way am I going to make sure multiple versions available online are all consistent! In this case I went and added deployment costs for all the UTVs that went out with a KerBalloon attached to them – because I keep great records I was able to go back and do this all the way through last year where applicable. I also adjusted some contract payouts for high-altitude KerBalloons that fell short of their maximum altitude. I use the formula ((failAlt – contractMinAlt) / (maxAlt – contractMinAlt)) * payout to determine what fraction of the full payment is actually given to the KSA depending on how high the balloon got relative to the altitude when the contract becomes valid.

An additional formula I use is for deploying vessels from the HAB/VAB: ((l*w*h)/t)*partCount, which is all data you can get from the Engineers Report down on the stock toolbar. It’s a nice formula because if a craft is big but light and made of few parts it won’t be much more expensive than a craft that is smaller but way more complex (more parts). Small and light vessels are also more expensive than small and heavy vessels because you figure they use advanced alloys or miniaturization to keep size & weight down. It’s also entirely independent of the actual cost of all the parts that make up the vessel, which is something that is only paid once to build it.

Full timestamps on mission report tweet timelines

OMG this is something that makes me so happy, because looking back at the mission report timelines I love how they fill the page and are so easy to create but I have hated for so long the fact that you can barely see the timestamp on each tweet. Moreso, the timestamp only includes the date. I want people to be able to get a proper sense of how long events are taking place from one tweet to the next. I had to hack in some JS code to get it done, but it only took me about 3 hours of work to get it all figured out once the official reply from twitter was “sorry, you’re on your own but here try this…”

Yes, there was much fist-pumping to be had.

Let the game decide

Just want to say that yes, there are times I just sit and time warp and watch the skies to see if the clouds clear up and let me launch. I don’t do it all the time but if I don’t need an event to go one way or another then I do let the game decide for me.


Yes, this is a mash of Orville and Wilbur 🙂