Aug 04 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 7/31/17

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Progeny Mk4 Heads Back Into Space

You can review the flight of the fourth Mk4 in its mission report and also check out the Operations Tracker for an updated vessel page that now includes splashdown location and total distance traveled. Flight telemetry data has been posted now as well. We’ve done a basic comparison between this flight and the last, but full analysis will not be done until Monday. Still, there are some interesting things to note, like how the 4th flight staged the first two boosters both higher than the 3rd flight and ascended slightly more vertically but ended up with a lower apokee – no doubt due to the lack of throttle-up on the 3rd stage engine. Also despite being higher the rocket was traveling slower, which made the nose pitch over faster and decreased the coast times. We are also still going past 40kPa during ascent, this time topping out at 61.42kPa – but only during the first stage boost, so if the rocket can ascend with an initial 2G of thrust we may stay below 40kPa the duration of the flight. We also noticed a large precession, or wobble, to the rocket as it was re-entering this time versus the last flight and are not sure why. Thankfully although it did slam sideways into the atmosphere a bit the spin did not turn flat and the engine still took the brunt of the re-entry force as intended. Definitely a lot more scorching on the sides of the rocket though. Finally, the landing was perfect this time around, with the initial chute deployment adjusted down from 6km to 4km. Further analysis Monday will lead to decisions for our ascent profile for Tuesday’s launch.

KerBalloon and Genesis Continue Contract Missions

Both programs had missions this past week to satisfy 4 contracts in total. KerBalloon launched two missions simultaneously, one at sea and one over land. Both were high-altitude missions which are heavily dependent on weather conditions. Thankfully skies cooperated for the most part, although the land mission did not launch in conditions that were as ideal as they had thought. Genesis took care of two contracts in a single flight again, this time with Commander Valentina at the controls. High winds were a concern but Val had enough experience to handle them, although she almost ended up making a mistake during landing that could have led to a serious accident when she forgot to reset her pitch trim on approach and couldn’t fully raise the nose on touchdown. Although it is an item on her pre-landing checklist she either skipped over it or was briefly distracted and returned to the wrong item. The high winds did not provide for a pleasant landing approach. With the Deuce we hope the multi-crew cross-check will help to prevent these kinds of mistakes.

Speaking of the Deuce, reconstruction is coming along well and you can expect to hear more about it next week.

What’s New Regarding the Monolith? We Can’t Say

A pall of secrecy has descended over the projects that are currently ongoing to study the Monolith and the crystal formations in the caverns of Umbarg and Kravass. Earlier this week the Presider was forced to enact an official order that prevented anyone from approaching the Monolith or talking to anyone working on the research project. Religious groups who see the Monolith as a central part of their faith have responded by mounting demonstrations in all 4 caverns, saying that the lack of access to the object in the days leading up to “The Incident” during which closer scientific scrutiny was being carried out prevented them from being near it when it activated. Apparently they believe the burnt out area is just the after-effect of the transport bubble that was meant to take the True Believers away to meet their Creators. Or Creator – there are a few factions that differ in this regard. The Presider and his Assembly have become concerned that any information released prior to a complete investigation could only lead to more wild speculation by the religious radicals and have thus clamped down on security. With the operation being conducted on KSC grounds, KSA Operations Director Drew Kerman is among the few that still receive regular briefs, but we are unable to share any information at this time. However we will continue to release any details we can as soon as possible.

ATN Database Update & Financial Report

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 844 asteroids, 13 updates and no new alerts issued.

Have a look at our extremely profitable July thanks to the bountiful rewards reaped by the Progenitor Program for making it into space. We are well-funded now for future Mk5 development.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Almost all the naked-eye planets are clustered to the west at sunset these days, and here Mun and Minmus join in on the party as well. Jool and Duna are the only ones missing, but they are keeping each other company further to the east.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 7/16/17

Two days behind now (weekend days, so not too bad) playing catch-up because I spent too much time with my friend on GTA Online and we’re trying to rope our other close buddies in so we can get a 4-person heist crew going and also completely wreck lobbies as a 4-person organization. Good times. A nice distraction, but my main focus is still here.

The Incident

So this past week I finally got to actually live through the Monolith Incident as it went down for real. Thankfully I did manage to set everything up properly so that when the time came I was able to quick switch over to the website error page and the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster timeout pages, although I hadn’t really thought through how best to do that until that day of. I ended up making a folder holding the files and the same directory structure on my server so I could just upload that and overwrite everything at once. Was a bit scared of doing that to be honest but it didn’t fuck anything else up. Then when I made the decision to extend the comm blackout a day I almost forgot to reschedule and rewrite some tweets to account for that. All in all though it went off smoothly and although I didn’t get as much of a reaction as I wanted I still got some people wondering about things, which is good enough!

More write-ahead needed for Civvie missions

Almost screwed myself over by not actually outlining the tweets that would be sent during the windy day Civvie mission. Because I can’t actually do wind in the game that affects aircraft using FAR I didn’t really think through some things – mainly the fact that if it really is so windy then why fly in the first place? Crap I had already flown the mission!! Thankfully the flight was very close to KSC so I was able to use that as an excuse. I also didn’t think to delay departure so that consideration could be made for the windy conditions which meant I had to adjust the times in the recorded telemetry, but that was an easy Special Paste operation in Excel.

Also the trim pitch thing was real – trim pitch was still down and Civvie’s prop almost ate dirt on that landing. It’s also a real cause of flight accidents. Yea, I don’t always have to make up ways to screw up. Unfortunately tho I didn’t have extenuating circumstances like high winds to blame for my fuck up.

Mk4 launch

Took two tries again, because of the dumb issue with the FAR windows disappearing on launch. I brought them back the first launch but to do so I had to rearrange some windows to get at the button and during that time I forgot to note the pitch of the rocket and so the entire flight was extremely shallow. I did manage to puzzle out a workaround tho, launching and then re-showing the FAR window and reverting back to launch made it stay put the entire flight on the second try. Hopefully it’s fixed in 1.3 or the workaround still works.

I also had to change up how the flight was reported on the Flight Tracker due to the fact that this one was continually updated in real time. The previous flight went back and added the later events with data already collected from a recovered payload, so I couldn’t give times for chute deployment and splashdown, and had to just update it one more time at the end with data that would have only been available after collecting the payload once it was returned to KSC.

Additionally I retconned the Mk4 Flight 3 database (before it was published, so technically not a retconn?) to change the time signal was lost because I originally had it happen when it fell below the horizon rather than when the re-entry plasma began.

KSP v1.3 upgrade status

Still waiting mainly on 3 integral mods – Advanced Jet Engine, Kerballoons, and KerbCam. So I’m close, but still not there yet. Hopefully within the next month or so, but in the meantime I’m not really complaining about being stuck on v1.2.2 – there’s nothing about v1.3 that would really make anything I’m doing right now better from and audience point of view.