Jul 07 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 7/3/17

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Progeny Mk4 Makes Ready for Return to Flight

The third Mk4 has been fully integrated today in the VAB after the 3rd stage was added yesterday. The rocket has been tweaked in several ways since the second Mk4 was launched at the end of the May. The most obvious change is the lengthening of the 3rd stage by adding an additional payload truss. This was done to both increase the effectiveness of the fins that are now lower on the rocket and allow us to add two more batteries so the rocket can stay powered up throughout its entire flight from launch to coast to re-entry and splashdown, gathering precious data the whole way. Another change was the bottom booster had its thrust reduced to just 81% so the rocket leaves the launch base at an initial 6Gs of acceleration. Coupled with the second stage booster’s thrust reduced to 52% we are hoping the rocket will see stresses no greater than 40kPa as it ascends under power from both engines. Finally, the fins on the second and third stages have had their pitch increased by 0.1° to account for the lower thrust. The added weight from the extra truss, batteries and fairings has increased the mass of the rocket from 1.764t to 1.789t and decreased the Δv from 2.543km/s to 2.273km/s. However we’re pretty sure that anything above 2 km/s shot nearly straight up should be able to reach space and the Mk4 second flight had a projected apokee of over 100km.

On Monday the rocket will get its final checkouts and, assuming all goes well, will be rolled out and mounted to the launch base after 3rd sunrise. It will then stand ready for launch the following day. Everyone is extremely excited!

Genesis Continues Science Flights, Sets New Records

The week kicked off with a science flight by Commander Valentina, who rotated into the cockpit and continued the mission Captain Jebediah had to abort last week due to a hydraulic leak. To gather atmospheric sample data from the West Shore Desert required her to perform two separate passes of the region, as it was too far west to be within sight of our ground station at Umbarg so data could be transmitted while she flew over the area. The entire flight lasted 2h06m28s and covered 680km, which put Val back on the Agency records for both continuous flight distance and time. For now, the maximum flight time a Civvie can endure is limited by the length of the day, not its fuel tank, as there are as yet no facilities either here or at KGA to allow planes to takeoff or land after dark. The Air Safety Administration has frustratingly been dragging its heels on setting up night flying regulations for aircraft and ground facilities. As a former Lead Policymaker for the ASA, Flight Director Lanalye is no stranger to such things but is nevertheless starting to get fed up with her former colleagues.

The weekend also ended with another science flight as Jeb took a Civvie out over the Western Mountains to observe an area for Sean’s Cannery. The weather was barely within minimums for the mission, with a cloud ceiling dropping as low as 3km. ASA visual flight rules stipulate 150m of separation from clouds, so Jeb could climb no higher than 2.85km over an area where the land itself could rise up that high, or higher. The flight was approved by C7 Aerospace Division although Flight Director Lanalye raised an objection to the Civvie being out of contact with KSC behind the mountains as there was no time to bring in a comms relay airship. Thankfully Jeb was able to navigate around the mountains to the location and back without any problems, but Lanalye has still logged a formal complaint stating that an emergency situation would have left Jeb with no means of alerting KSC.

Along the route to his observation area, Jeb was also able to fly past a possible launch site for a future KerBalloon mission. He took some photos of the area so the Kerballoon team could determine whether their Utility Task Vehicles could access the site to launch the balloon.

KerBalloon Tests New Science Instrument

After several days of delay waiting for ideal conditions, a high-altitude balloon was launched from KSC to test the new negative gravioli instrument designed to measure the changing force of gravity around an object the size of a moon or planet. Cameras were also attached to the payload as it’s been a while since we’ve had any photos from the upper atmosphere. After recovery and analysis Head of R&D Wernher Von Kerman announced today that the instrument performed as expected, measuring the decrease of gravity as the balloon carried the instrument higher and higher. The instrument will be a passenger aboard a future Mk4 sub-orbital flight.

Two other missions occurred this past week for KerBalloon. A low-altitude balloon launch was carried out in the Highlands north of KSC and recovered without incident. A high-altitude balloon launch out at sea was scrubbed due to sea conditions being at the far end of viable for the recovery craft to operate safely in the water. It probably would have turned out fine, but Specialist Bob and his crew did not see any reason to take the chance, even though the contract deadline was that day. We regret the loss of income but we would regret even more any loss of life.

KSC Activity Day Welcomes Staff Family & Friends

This past Saturday we held an even larger public opening of the Kerbal Space Center for KSA/C7 staff families and close friends. Many activities and exhibits were setup throughout the campus to let kerbs explore what was going on around KSC and learn more about space and science along the way. Although the weather started out crummy it cleared up and allowed outdoor activities like water rocket launches as well. For several weeks now upper-level KSC management have been working out details to open the Center to the public on weekends when normal operations are shut down, or at least largely scaled back. Over the past few months the goings-on here have attracted more and more attention from kerbs, and there are no other above-ground tourist attractions yet in existence. We are still unsure when KSC will be open to the public or even if it will, but this past weekend was a great test nonetheless.

ATN Database & KSA Financials Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 755 asteroids, 15 updates and no new alerts issued.

Head of Finances Mortimer Kerman has also closed the books on a profitable June, you can see our income & expenses broken down by month, program and vessel in this report.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Bob & Val finally got the opportunity to view and photograph a double-shadow transit of Eeloo and Slate over Sarnus, which is nearly a month past opposition but still more than large enough to resolve the transit. Tekto hangs out far to the lower right, its inclined orbit will be aligned properly to the sun to begin dropping a shadow across Sarnus’ north pole in late September of this year, although it will be a month too late to also still see Eeloo and Slate shadow transiting together.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 6/22/17

Yup, back in the saddle. This was a good week, went pretty smoothly. I’m getting close to a major plot point so that’s helping drive me towards what will soon be coming.

Part Commander Memory Leak

Found out what was making my flights slow to a crawl these past few missions. I keep meticulous records of pretty much everything the KSA does so it was easy to look at the video of a flight on May 25th and see everything was fine during landing, then look at the video of the next flight on 5/31 and see that landing was done at around 40% real time. My first attempt at solving the issue was, as I mentioned in previous Desk Notes, to swap out Kopernicus for a new version. Why? Because the installation log at the bottom of my mod list told me that was the only mod that was updated between the 25th and the 31st. When that didn’t make any difference I knew there was something else I was missing. What else had I changed in the days between those two flights? I couldn’t think of anything. Then I remembered to check what I had done differently during the flights themselves, and looking at the videos of the 25th and the 31st landings I finally noticed that I had replaced the Part Access Window for the flaps with a window from Part Commander. The reason for this was because with the Part Commander window I could size it so only the flap setting was visible, which was the only data I was interested in. This gave me the room to open a second PAW for both engines when flying a Deuce. I tested in game and sure enough, when the Part Commander window was open KSP’s RAM usage would tick upwards constantly. This is thankfully an easy fix – just don’t use Part Commander until it is patched up or only show the window during takeoff/landing when I actually need to see my flap position. Even if the window is made visible, the RAM leakage stops as soon as it is closed.

Funny story though, is that I figured this out after flying the longest Civvie mission ever to gather atmospheric readings from the desert near KSC. By the end of that flight I was literally flying from the map view since that would allow the sim to run at 100% real time (that was another clue, BTW). Thankfully the KSC runway running east to west means you can use latitude to align with the runway, so I flew all the way in from the map view just with that information (Val used her avionics) and altitude readouts from Kerbal Engineer Redux. I mean, I swapped out to flight view a few times just to make sure I wasn’t about to run into the higher ground near the KSC on this approach, but I think the time fraction in flight view was down to like 12% real time so it was impossible to actually fly. Still, I made a pretty decent approach and didn’t completely destroy the aircraft on landing:

The game refused to load out of the flight scene. it didn’t crash, but it just sat there with the Loading graphic endlessly running and I had to ultimately task kill it. Fortunately the SFS file is always the first thing updated on a scene switch so I didn’t lose any progress there.

That bolide was the real deal

Most of the tweets you could consider to be “filler”, like this one about a bolide over the north Kerblantic, are actually driven by in-game events (or are actually part of the process of setting up later plot points – pay attention!!). In this case the game generated an asteroid to be discovered that was already within Kerbin’s SOI and on a collision course with the planet. It was a Class A so I just had it burn up on entry, but that’s the actual location where it hit. I am indeed keeping track of all asteroids that impact Kerbin, many of which kerbalkind have not been aware of due to their remote impacts and the general lack of surface population to witness them (seismographs have played a past role in detecting some of these).

Subtle lighting effects

Check out this before/after shot:

This was done by taking one photo, then upping the Ambient Light and taking another, then merging them to keep the lit building faces and make the unlit ones appear darker in shadow. It’s subtle, but I think adds a great deal of depth to the image and a sense of “global illumination” that the game lacks from having no light bouncing around the scene. I do this to varying extents in lots of photos depending on the situation.

Yea that VAB really can get in the way

Not only are data transmissions tight-beam signals but the VAB itself would be shielded anyone since you want to be able to test payload electronics without any outside interference. There really will be an antenna dish that will be visible on the roof in the near future thanks to Kerbal Konstructs

Found that other in-flight issue with Hullcam

Mentioned previously that my Hullcam VDS views could be messed up when looking through the cameras and I would only be able to see inside the aircraft. Well I finally realized it wasn’t from doing a Quicksave As (although for some reason it still switches to a hullcam view after I accept the quicksave name for some reason) but instead it was from focusing on the part with Camera Focus Changer. The author already knows about the issue and is working to try and fix it.


I’m going to go play some GTA Online now. Been a week since I logged on last night but still have boku bucks from the mod craziness that went down last week (I finally got fed up with all the negative Take Two posts on KSP reddit and ranted a bit about it) so I bought a bunker and mobile command center. Then when I was out of my bunker with the command center I left the cab and went to the trailer to play with the turret I also installed and someone came by and blew up my car parked nearby, so I blew him up with the turret (Wheeee!) but then when I exited the trailer I ended up like 50 feet from the thing and when I ran back the other guy had already respawned and was running for my cab and I was too slow to arm a weapon and only got a few shots at him before he drove off and over me. Yes, I got run over by my own damn mobile command center. Laugh it up. I have since found and changed the cab permissions to Friends only 😛


(I’m Gaiiden727 if anyone wants to send a Social Club friend request)