Aug 18 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 8/14/17

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Progeny Mk5 Program Begins

This week we officially retired the Mk4 and announced the Mk5, moving on to the new rocket series. The dates for all five initial launches have been set, here are the first two:

Flight 1: 9/12 @ 23:23 UTC
Flight 2: 9/14 @ 17:29 UTC

Proving that we can turn around and launch again in two days with the last Mk4 missions, we will be extending this concept across all five launches for the Mk5 – it will be an exciting two weeks! Parts such as fins, decouplers, stack adapters, etc. have already begun to arrive for the VAB to sort and prepare for assembly, with the 3rd stages being worked on starting this week. The final specifications for the boosters, which need to be pre-made to a certain thrust setting, were sent to USI this week so they can finish manufacturing them by the end of the month. By the time the first rocket is ready the fifth will already be partially assembled, but not all of them will be completed before the first launch.

Deuce Returns to Flight

After Commander Valentina conducted a ground trial on Monday, we had two successful flights of C7’s Deuce aircraft this past week with Captain Jebediah at the controls. The initial flight was still hampered by over-sensitive controls and after they were dampened still further for the second flight it became apparent that the aircraft was inherently unstable – Jeb could now feel that it wasn’t him causing the plane to pitch up & down violently (at some points there were momentary forces as high as 7Gs while traveling over 140m/s). This means that more work on the design of the Deuce’s air frame will be needed, and C7 engineers are already working with several new models in R&D’s modest wind tunnel. We don’t expect to see the Deuce return to the air until September, but hopefully when it does its stability issues will be resolved.

Cpt Jeb also flew a successful Civvie mission while Val was testing out the Deuce.

KerBalloon Waits Out Perfect Weather

Specialits Bill and Bob led out a crew in all three Utility Task Vehicles 84km north into the central plains region to launch a high-altitude balloon. They carried 3 days of supplies to last them to the weekend and camped out through rain and cloudy skies until things finally cleared early Friday for them to launch into a perfectly pristine sky. No serious icing formed during the balloon’s ascent and it made it all the way up to 24.990km before bursting. This was great as we haven’t had a clean ascent in a while, however the fact that it took 3 days meant that our net income on this mission was almost nil thanks to requiring a relay airship to be on station for that long. This will be less of an issue in a few months, as Lead Scientist Cheranne returned this week from Wild Blue Industry’s headquarters in Ockr City saying initial design drafts were underway of our new airship.

You can read the full KB mission report here.

KSC Readies New Dish, DSN Sees Setback at Arekibo

The base for our new tracking dish has been installed, and by the end of the month a second ground dish will join the first and the one on the Tracking Station roof. That roof dish will then be dismantled and moved to the ground as well after the second ground dish is fully commissioned in October. This will set us up to begin trying to tie all three dishes together as an array in order to receive signals from deep space.

Speaking of deep space, the Arekibo Radio Observatory under construction at Sea Ring Crater hit a major obstacle last month when the walls of the dish bowl being dug into the uplift island kept collapsing. Keologists working at the site have determined that the material forming the island is not stable enough to support an inset bowl as originally designed, which flies in the face of earlier reports by a separate team that did the initial site survey. The backers of Arekibo have since signed off on an alternate construction proposal, which would see most of the material already excavated treated into a concrete mixture and used to build a dish atop the island. The downside to this is that the original 180m dish has been reduced to just 84m, which will still make it the largest on the planet but radio scientists are nonetheless dismayed. The original July 2018 completion goal has been moved back two months.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 876 asteroids, 8 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Moho and Sarnus reach appulse while Urlum and Eve hang out below. Neidon is there as well if you look veeery closely below left of Urlum. It’s easy to forget that all of these planets were visible to the west after sunset just over 2 weeks ago

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 7/31/17

Week in 4 days! Yea that was a lot of work (aircraft flights take the longest to do & write up) but I’m almost back to 3-weeks lead again. Today is also the first day I have the A/C unit working as things are finally getting hotter than 80°F outside today and tomorrow. Yea, literally the week I picked up the unit after ordering it temps have been unseasonably cool – because of course they have. It’s 78°F in here now and 84°F outside so things are looking good so far.

Check yo science instruments!

I have a checklist item to make sure in the VAB/SPH that the craft has all the proper instruments as defined in the spreadsheet that tracks what reusable instruments currently belong to which craft, but I failed to also make note of whether the craft I’m deploying has the proper instruments for the mission! Imagine my surprise when I triggered my science instruments in the latter half of the Civvie mission this week and didn’t trigger a contract completion. There was no thermometer on the aircraft. Derp. I fixed that after the flight, and thankfully because of the delays it was okay to say the Civvie was rolled out a few days ago when the mission was initially planned so it makes sense they would have parked it off to the side after the first day. So, no major retconning needed to get around this mistake, but I’ve since modified the checklist item so I don’t do this again.

For photos too!!

Not only did I screw up missing a science instrument in a mission this week, about an hour before this photo was due to go live I realized the Civvie was missing the atmospheric sampling instrument on its belly! Thankfully this wasn’t as hard as I though to fix. I wasn’t able to match the angle of the entire image exactly, but all I had to do was get the angle of the aircraft close to correct, and then fudge it since it was small enough. I wonder if anyone would have even noticed…

Deuce testing

So the reason the Civvie mission was delayed was due to me falling behind and since aircraft missions take up the most time I was pushing it off so it was easier for me to catch up. However I then realized an even better reason was that doing the Civvie mission at the same time as the Deuce ground trials would let me relegate the Deuce activities to the background, which was great because I didn’t plan to have Val do anything different than what Jeb had already done.

Once again the Deuce trials were flown without me doing any prior testing myself, so whatever happened was what happened, there was no pre-plotting or anything – I could have crashed in the water, crashed on the ground, but I did actually end up landing okay both times. The landings though did not end well, as you can see for yourself in this video of the first test flight. I really have no clue how to properly set up these damn landing gears still. I’m trying new values for spring and dampening every time the aircraft flies and still it wants to bounce around all over the damn place. But the approach to landing was smooth both times, so I didn’t include the flipping out in the story.

I actually didn’t wait until now to reveal the idea that Jeb’s mass was inducing the roll in the aircraft, that was something that came to me just this past week. Normally, mass of kerbals would not affect a vessel, but at some point recently Squad did make it possible to give kerbals mass – I can’t remember when I don’t even remember reading it in the change logs I just found it when perusing the config files for new stuff. Here’s the MM patch I use to add mass to kerbals:

 // http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/15451-the-mass-of-a-kerbal/
 @kerbalCrewMass = 0.03125

It’s not really the real cause behind the roll – the roll was way too big to be caused by this alone – but it can have an effect. I know playing Flight Simulator for many years that the aircraft can tend to be a little left-friendly when it’s just you sitting in the pilot’s seat. But it’s a small thing. Then again, no one ever said the physics in KSP were perfect…

Lastly, had some trouble with my Saitek X55 joystick sticking. Annoyingly, the piece that keeps tension between the base and the spring gets stuck, which lets the joystick flop around like a helicopter cyclic. This happened a while ago too and was one of the reasons I stuck with my X52 until I needed to use the X55’s dual throttles. Surprisingly the stick worked great when I first started using it, but now it’s been getting stuck again. Application of WD-40 has done no good, I may need to look into some silicone spray if it gets worse. For now, I just swapped out for a heavier spring to force the piece back down. This has increased the joystick resistance, which I don’t really like, but it works. As if controlling the Deuce wasn’t fucking hard enough already!!

v1.3 at last??

Sooooo close – only two more mods are needed to allow me to transition completely over to v1.3 without having to continue to run v1.2.2 for certain things. It’s probably not going to happen until v1.3.1 drops of course, but hopefully that point update won’t break too much and I can jump straight to that. Regardless, it’s not something I can start working on until I catch up to my lead. Still three days behind, two of which are the weekend so I should be caught up by today or tomorrow.

But not if I’m still here writing this stuff…