Oct 06 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 10/2/17

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Progeny Mk5 Block I & New Contracts

This week the Progenitor teams finished up review of the Mk5 design and released their report, which has all the technical details. It also includes an overview of the Block I variant for the Mk5, which will be a lighter and more powerful version of the Mk5 design, to be followed up next week by an even bigger Block II variant which we hope will have the capability to launch payloads beyond Low-Kerbin Orbit (LKO) to heights exceeding 250km – still on sub-orbital trajectories. The original Mk5 design will be phased out, with one more launch scheduled under contract for next week on 10/13. Because we originally ordered enough parts for 6 rockets in case we needed to replace anything that got broken, damaged or was otherwise unusable, we are able to build a new Mk5 within a week. A second contract has also been signed for the first Block I launch to occur on 10/20, with more time needed to order the new boosters to spec from Umbra Space Industries. You can find more details about the contracts and the launches from the Progenitor program page. We hear Progenitor is also in talks for another contract, which could also fire off this month if a deal is reached in time. Moving forward we don’t expect more than 2-3 launches per month for the rest of the year.

Genesis & KerBalloon Keep the Lights On

Although the Progenitor program remains in the green, the Mk5 has a large deficit to clear up before we really start seeing profit from the vessel, so the bulk of our income remains with Genesis and KerBalloon, who both had missions this past week.

Genesis put a Civvie up into the air under the command of Captain Jebediah to take some more atmospheric samples, this time northwest of KSC over the central plains region, which sports a large volume of trees that could also have affects on pollen levels around KSC if the winds are right. Previous Civvie missions have seen the aircraft orbit around the target area at a certain distance and altitude but Jeb literally took things to the next level, orbiting at a distance of 10km while holding altitude and also climbing 1km to a new flight level after completing an orbit. You can see the 3D plot of his flight path here to get an idea of what we’re talking about. Val was supposed to do this on her flight last week but was rushed due to weather. She’ll attempt it for her mission that got delayed to next week.

KerBalloon released two low-altitude balloons, with the first one being launched & recovered at sea while the second one held the possibility of making it over land, so Specialist Bill was on standby with UTVs in case he needed to travel to the western shore for recovery. Specialists Bob aboard the Maritime Service Vessel Tongjess however was able to recover both payloads at sea and return to KSC with data intact. There has been a resurgence lately in data from low-altitude balloons, which is not surprising given they are extremely reliable. KerBalloon is in negotiation for contracts next week but there has been in a lull in submissions recently.

Deuce & Extremis Updates

It was determined this week that everything but the tail section will need to be rebuilt for the Deuce following the recent crash. The checkup of the main cabin came back okay but given this was the second crash it has sustained C7 feels it should be replaced regardless. Being the integral section of the aircraft, this will mean re-construction will take upwards of 2 months, just as long as when it was first built. Engineers will be using this opportunity to make double & triple sure everything is put together to exacting standards, in case the roll issue was due to an off-center assembly.

The Extremis program completed its first phase of trajectory calculations for the 2018-19 launch window, which tells them which of the multi-flyby routes they came up with were viable and if so how much deltaV and time would be required to complete them. This information has been passed on to our orbital program leads so they can get the engine specs nailed down for contract bidding to begin early next month. Extremis will continue to plot first-phase trajectories for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 windows to determine what routes would work best for what years. We’ll have a full report later this month on the entire planning process once the first phase is complete.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,037 asteroids, 20 updates and 1 alert issued for LPO-212(D), which will impact our atmosphere on 10/23 but current projections place it over land not currently occupied and will be updated when it enters our SOI on 10/22.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

This past weekend we were treated to a very rare event when Eve transited in front of Jool. It was not visible from any inhabited area and astronomers had to travel far west to the Great Desert to setup a temporary observatory to catch the event, but it was worth it. More than 50% of Eve covered up Jool as it passed over in less than 5 minutes. The images of Jool, Vall and Laythe were taken during the middle of the transit. Because Eve and Jool are both on inclined orbits, the times they align like this relative to Kerbin are very few, in fact this is the first recorded event in our entire history!

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 10/5/17

Oh hey, it’s a day before Friday again. DAMMIT. On the bright side I don’t feel like I’m over-worked, but on the down side I don’t feel like I’m able to work enough, which is a bit frustrating because by now if I had been able to do 2 days of KSA ops every 1 real day I’d be up to a week lead time, but at best I’ve been able to get 1-1.5 days of KSA ops done. Then some days would be a complete washout in terms of being able to do any KSA work. But I’ve been able to at least keep a day ahead at the worst of times, although barely. In one instance this past weekend if I hadn’t happened to wake up at 6am there would have been no 7am sunrise/sunset tweet. Oy. Lack of lead time also sucks because I like to be very flexible in how I plan things out – for example there was a tweet earlier this week about the KerBalloon missions that made it seem like they would be done the same day, which I originally intended to do. But then as I was actually doing them I decided spreading them out over two days would be better, but my lead time was non-existent so when I made this decision it was already too late to go back and edit that tweet before publishing to reflect the missions occurring over two days. So yea, going to try harder to double-down this coming week. Also sucks I’ve had almost no time to work on the Ops Tracker.

Civvie Flight

The circle step-climb was a great challenge. I don’t re-fly Genesis missions unless my computer crashes, and even then I set things up to restart from where I left off, so anytime you see the results of an aircraft flight that’s the real deal. There was a lot of concentration involved to maintain my distance from the  target, maintain my altitude, and trim the aircraft level while also watching my speed, as I’ve made clear on multiple instances that going faster than 100m/s will damage the instrument, and I am held accountable by making the flight data publicly available. Looking at the flight path linked above you can see the wobble where I started to trim out level during the climbs, but I never exceeded 100m/s and never went further than 10.1km or closer than 9.6km. Definitely makes these missions more interesting!

Mk5 Block I

So as I said in a previous Desk Note some months ago, the USI Sounding Rockets pack was originally released with all three solid boosters set to the same ISP values. I pointed this out to the author and he made the change, I think it was with the KSP v1.2.2 compatible release, but somehow when I upgraded from KSP v1.1 or whatever I brought along the old configs with the ISP values all the same, and have been using them like that unknown until I realized it during the Mk3 or sometime around then. Well, I figured then fine I would just have a more powerful rocket at some point when I decided to reset the boosters to their proper values and that time is now with the Mk5 Block I. The mass savings to the fins is a result of FAR allowing you to tweak the strength of wing parts, which by default are set to a value of 1 and I reduced all the fins to 0.5.

Enough chit-chat. I have work to do.