Sep 08 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 9/4/17

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Progeny Mk5 Set to Begin Launch Campaign

Everything has been progressing well for the Mk5 leading up to the start of a series of 5 launches beginning with two next week and then three the following week. It is a very intense timeline and any minor delay will possibly push back the timings of future launches so as much is being done as possible to ensure everything goes smoothly. The VAB has been in high gear since last week getting all five rockets setup in an assembly line. Right now every stage of construction is being worked on; with the first rocket now topped off, the second will be stacked on Monday while the third completes its boosters and the fourth has all its fins attached while the fifth undergoes initial booster prep. All five third stages are already mostly assembled as those parts arrived well before the lower boosters. Two payloads will be built at any given time as that is all we have the parts for to continue to allow KerBalloon to use trusses for their missions. Our code repository for the Automated Flight Control System has received its final update with the scripts that will be used for the first launch. Again, no automated control other than the initial launch command will be used, instead the program will monitor the rocket as it is manually staged & throttled to confirm the code is running without errors and receiving all the data it needs to control the rocket itself in later flights.

The first launch next week is scheduled for 23:23 UTC.

Genesis & KerBalloon Continue Routine Missions

Have to keep those funds rolling in, so KerBalloon and Genesis both conducted profitable missions this past week. A low-altitude balloon gathered temperature data after being launched by Specialist Bill from land and recovered by Specialist Bob at sea. The ship then sailed south and well out to sea to launch a high-altitude balloon, also for temperature data. Commander Valentina flew a Civvie science mission to take observations over two areas of interest northwest of KSC, one more than 200km distant, a nice stretch but still well-within the Civvie’s range. Upon returning to KSC Val demonstrated her continued mastery of the Civvie by flying another glide approach, which meant she reduced throttle to idle at the start of her descent (this time from 4.5km) and then did not touch it all the way down to landing. Even with a steep 5km final approach sometimes reaching pitch down of 12-13° and speeds of 65m/s, after leveling out over the runway she slowed to landing speed before traveling halfway down. Captain Jebediah is keen to try this on his next flight, already scheduled for Monday to squeeze in between the busy launch week.

KSC Opens to the Public

For the first time this past weekend we allowed members of the public to tour KSC, after spending several months trialing events with staff family and friends. The 45min tours consist of a guided bus ride that departs from the nearby Support Village and travels throughout the KSC campus. Initial interest was extremely high and the first few weeks of tours were completely sold out within days, however it has since been realized that many bought tickets just so they could visit the Monolith. Although it is not officially part of the tour, it is still easily visible from KSC and this is a draw to the various religious sects that worship it. One group tried to break away and make a run for the Monolith but were quickly apprehended and escorted off the premises thanks to our new fleet of security vehicles. Since then no further attempts have been made but also many have requested ticket refunds or simply not shown up to claim their seats on tours. It’s a bit disappointing to know that for some kerbs seeing the Monolith would be the only reason to want to visit KSC.

Monolith Dome Construction Begins

After failing to breach the surface of the Monolith last weekend using several methods from normal cutting tools to high-powered lasers to large impact objects, scientists working on the project have decided their next course of action will be to begin excavating the ground around it. The object has always appeared to be buried deep into the ground, although to what extent remains to be seen. In order to keep the excavated pit dry, a dome will be built over the Monolith – much to the outcry of those who consider the object to be a part of their religious beliefs. The Presider has remained steadfast in the wake of multiple protests in keeping the details of the Monolith research project secret, including work being done at Kravass and Umbarg regarding the strange mineral formations. Given that there’s no way to hide a huge dome, we can at least reveal what will be going on under it (of course, many conspiracy kerbs take this admission with a grain of salt).

ATN Database & KSA Finances Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 937 asteroids, 13 updates and 1 new alerts issued. The alert issued is for ZNS-924(A), which is set to encounter Kerbin over a remote location and will most likely not survive its plunge through the atmosphere.

Our monthly financial report is also now available. Thanks to the two new communications dishes we installed this past month profits are at an all-time low but overall we continue to see a favorable financial forecast.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Unlike Mun, Minmus is not tidally locked to Kerbin and presents various terrain features depending on when you look, which makes looking often worth the while! Here are several shots taken during various times of the day to add some additional hues to Minmus’ ever-changing features.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/29/17

Will admit it’s taken me a while to get back up to speed since taking time off to travel to see the great eclipse, which was well-worth the effort. I spent 4 days total, driving over 2.3k miles, you can view the road trip route here, with a link in each route description with details of the day. The roads were amazing, I love West Virginia so much – found a couple roads with switchbacks like these. So much fun. I was pretty much directly under the moon’s shadow and near the point of greatest eclipse, weather was mostly sunny and when I got there cumulus clouds were in abundance and one was blocking the sun but by the time totality arrived it was perfectly clear and I saw everything. The one thing I don’t recall is noticing any real temperature drop. My main takeaway from the event was how impossibly terrifying this must have been for early humans. I always thought that they’d become gradually freaked out as the sun grew dimmer over time but you really can’t tell anything is happening to the sun until totality. You’ll notice the lighting is a bit  – “off” – I wouldn’t really say dimmer but just noticeably different. Shadows are a bit fuzzier, but if you were to look up at the sun it would still be a blindingly bright speck of light up in the sky and you’d be like “ok, nothing wrong there” and then BAM!! darkness descends over the course of a few seconds and you look back up and now the sun is a giant black orb with ghostly filaments surrounding it and OMG THAT IS SOME APOCALYPTIC SHIT if you don’t know it’s coming or what it is. Anyways, it’s definitely an experience everyone should witness – 2024! I plan to chase it again.

Deciding wind direction

So I’ve been playing with the EVE offset property recently to change the position of the clouds and noticed that with certain values the clouds will travel in directions other than just west to east. I’ve decided then to use random numbers each time the game is started (have to do this manually for now, but whatever) for the x,y,z offset values and whichever way the clouds are moving is the direction the wind is heading. Very simplistic, in reality there are multiple wind layers with varying directions and speeds but it at least gives me a starting point that I can use for the majority of the lower atmosphere. Of course this still affects absolutely nothing in the game itself but for things like deciding which direction a balloon will end up going or which direction an aircraft should be taking off from, it means I no longer have to decide myself these things but can leave it up to chance.

ATN GeoGebra figure?

So now that I know I can dynamically add orbits to a 3D figure in the Flight Tracker the question of course arises as to whether I could load all 900+ asteroid orbits. I have no idea what the performance will be like, but you can bet at some point in the future once the refactoring is complete I am going to try!

Operations Tracker

The new tracker is coming along nicely, you can always see the latest by checking here – depending on whether I’m working on it things could be completely broken but I try to leave off in a functional state. It’s now called the Operations Tracker because everything has been consolidated into one page and the page will reload sections of itself as needed rather than the whole page.

KSP still getting better, patience will pay off

I added a new FAQ item (#14) recently as to why it’s taking so long to get things done around here. In addition to that, let’s not forget that there are still some pretty awesome mods being worked on by the likes of Nertea and Freethinker and CobaltWolf, among others. Any space station or planetary base I build today would look and function so much better if built two years from now. So yea, KSP maturity is another reason why I like the slow pace of things.