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Jul 21 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 7/17/17

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KSC Recovery Continues in Wake of Monolith Incident

After working overtime this past weekend senior staff met on Monday to present plans for bringing various areas of the KSC back up to full operational status. The majority of the damage was done to active electronics as currents spiked and fried out pretty much anything that was drawing power at the time the Monolith… did whatever it did. There was still damage also done to sensitive electronics equipment in any unshielded labs and buildings. Hardest hit were the Tracking Station and Launch Control buildings as they were in full operation for the flight of the Progeny Mk4. While it’s been estimated to take at least 3 weeks to get the KSC back up to supporting operations for the KSA and C7, primary systems are mostly all back up and running with final work being done over the next few days to at least allow support of Genesis and KerBalloon missions to commence once again. Assembly work in the VAB and HAB is also expected to begin picking up once more by the end of next week. The first full week of August should see mostly everything back up and running, although redundancies will still be missing in some non-critical areas.

Progenitor Plans One-Two Launch for Comeback Flights

We’ve gotten caught up on the recent Mk4 launch with a full timeline on its vessel page and telemetry data posted online. We are still missing the launch video and flight analysis, which will come next week. After that, we have the two new LF/O engines as of today and plan to integrated them once VAB assembly work starts up again. Two booster stacks are already assembled and waiting for their 3rd stage, both will be assembled together and launched within two days of one another, assuming weather allows it. Each rocket will carry a new set of instruments to gather more scientific data from beyond the atmosphere, and each rocket will also have a decreased thrust output.

What about cameras in the payload? Well… it’s complicated. We’ll discuss it more once we’ve worked out a solution. It’s not a priority as far as Wernher is concerned, but our nascent PR department has been bugging him about it.

Monolith Investigations Turn Up More Questions

After waiting several more days to see if the Monolith would do anything else, scientists began to cautiously approach the structure, starting by probing the ~250m diameter ring of scorched ground around it for toxic compounds and radiation. Finding nothing but charred grass, they moved in closer and received no subsonic vibrations typical of the Monolith’s “keep back” behavior, which was also lacking in the days leading up to what scientists can only describe right now as a “discharge”. The biggest difference instruments have picked up is that the object is now extremely cold, even colder than the surrounding air, whereas in the days before its discharge sensors nearby had detected increasing levels of infrared radiation. Work has only just begun in such close proximity to the Monolith, and a security perimeter has been setup to keep back anyone wanting to visit it for the foreseeable future.

Additional investigation is underway at Kravass and Umbarg by local scientists to determine what caused the massive energy spikes that threw huge bolts of electricity around the interior of the large hollowed-out spaces. Many of the arcs grounded themselves on power structures, but many were also seen connecting between seemingly empty spots on the walls, floor and ceiling of the caverns. In these locations the surface of the rock literally exploded with the force of the released energy, which also killed and wounded many kerbs. Inspection of these sites has revealed crystals embedded into the rock that keologists have never seen before. Excavations of the areas have only just cautiously begun.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 788 asteroids, 17 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Due to the 6° inclination of Minmus, it and Mun do not often cross paths in the sky from a single location, even though the opportunity for such an event comes every 7 days or so. But then you have to figure that Mun is not always up in the sky over KSC, or any other place on Kerbin except the poles

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 6/30/17

Shout out to SpannerMonkey(smce) from the forums for whipping me up the Monolith scorched ground texture when I asked him for help. Be sure to check out his great scenery mods!

Moving right along then, not much to cover this week just slowly building out the details of what really happened with the Monolith. I’m going to cruise through several more days to set me up with a 3wk lead + a few days to compensate for work I’ll be doing over the 4th of July holiday that’ll keep me from making progress. Hopefully then I can go back to banging out a day of operations and then turning my attention to other things in need of work, like the dynamic orbital system display I’ve mentioned a few times before. Not to mention getting started on the entire Tracker/Roster rewrite. Speaking of which…

KSA Server crash

Doing this was harder than I thought, because I wanted it to happen in a way that didn’t seem like it was me obviously trying to present the Flight Tracker and Crew Roster as being offline. So, I didn’t want to just temporarily remove the pages from the server and have the links 404. My initial attempt was exactly as you may have seen it during the event (if not, here click this link) but if you right-clicked and selected “View Page Source” in your browser you would immediately see that all it was was a page set to display a timeout message after 15 seconds. It was pretty thinly-veiled and you can all take it as a compliment that I consider you to be a smart audience who could potentially see right through that. So, I had to somehow make the site not load and show the timeout message without tipping my hand that it was a deliberately-scripted event. How I did it might still be obvious to a web developer who took the time to actually look through a couple thousand lines of code but I simply hid all the other page elements in a div element so everything would load as normal, it just wouldn’t show up. Looking at the source, you’d see thousands of lines of the usual code, with no ASP errors and no JavaScript errors showing up in the debug window either. I even stuck the actual message string as a variable in one of the JS libraries so people couldn’t search for the timeout window text within the source to try and figure out where it was being generated in an attempt to backtrack what was happening. Hopefully all my efforts were for naught because no one bothered to try to pick apart what was going on, but if anyone did further than that I hope they came away thinking it was something really happening somehow.

The WordPress site going offline was way easier, just downloading and installing an “Under Construction” plugin that let me switch off the site and display a cool message in theme with the site. I got lucky it was the first plugin I tried, although not all luck since it was top-rated.

I also deleted all the KSP forum cookies so that the next time I visited the site it wouldn’t automatically log me in and I could select the “Sign in anonymously” option which let me still access the forums to reference stuff (like the 3D system model) without tipping people off that I was still around. Yep, sneaky!

Aaaannd that’s pretty much it. Like I said, not much to cover, but there will be more next week!