Oct 13 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 10/9/17

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Progeny Mk5 Takes “Final Flight”

The Mk5 that launched today was the last one to use the original boosters built for the program, to be replaced for future launches by the Block I. The flight was a complete success – the Mk5 made it to space and was recovered, the AFCS performed without error and all the science instruments collected data. Progenitor engineers will be taking a real close look at the telemetry data early next week so we can decide how we want to program the first Block I to ascend. This launch was the first Mk5 launch to take place at 85° of pitch versus 87° and we also waited for the pitch to change 1° as opposed to 1.5° before beginning the next boost phase. New changes to the Automated Flight Control System allowed the 3rd stage to begin boosting at a TWR of 2 and when it detected dynamic pressure decreasing it auto-throttled to keep increasing thrust to full while ensuring dynamic pressure continued to fall. These ascent changes will be closely compared to previous Mk5 and Mk4 flights to see what effect they had on the rocket’s trajectory.

Kerballoon Takes a By, Genesis Pulls Off One Mission

To focus on prepping both a primary and backup weather balloon for this week’s launch, KerBalloon put aside its usual contract work. Since only one balloon was used that leaves one already prepped for next week and KerBalloon has some contracts lined up to take care of with the extra free time.

Genesis was able to squeeze in a single mission that took care of two contracts under the command of Commander Valentina, who was able this time to fly an orbital step-climb pattern around the contract area. She pulled it off just as cleanly as Captain Jebediah and then ventured north to the Mount Kermon area for some aerial observations for scientists interested in the kinds of vegetation growing on its high-altitude peaks. Although attempts were made to see if a Civvie could be integrated into Progeny launch operations to take aerial photos/video of a launch, weather did not cooperate later in the week when time was short as launch operations ramped up. Flight Director Lanalye is still open to the idea, and the start of next week will see a renewed attempt when more time is open in the schedule for flying. This concept has been around for months, but Lanalye was not willing to deal with the extra complexity until now.

Extremis Trajectory Plotting Continues

This week the team revealed a look at some of the trajectories that have been plotted so far for the 2018-2019 year-long launch window, to which one follower responded that it looked like a lot and if we knew which ones we would choose. A good question! Our response was in a different tweet and the answer is: no, that’s not a lot and we have no idea yet. There are actually 109 different flyby combinations we are looking at and they all have to be plotted for each of the three year-long launch windows and for each window we are constraining them in three different ways. So that’s nearly a thousand trajectories that need to be computed! The main reason for the delay is we initially only planned to look at 39 flyby combinations but Lead Researcher Wernher Von Kerman pushed for an increased mixture of routes through the outer system gas giants. We will have a featured post by the Extremis team in a few weeks taking a closer look at the phase one trajectory analysis once it is completed.

Religious Pilgrims Camp Outside Monolith Site

Showing up sometime overnight this past Wednesday about 50 kerbs pitched tents just north of the Monolith, which is now covered by a dome as scientists slowly and carefully excavate around its base. KSC dispatched security to check it out and found that they had traveled overland on foot from Umbarg after gathering there from other cities via airship and were only interested in being close to the Monolith to conduct their prayer services and rituals. Given that we have no means of forcibly removing that many kerbs from the property, we simply let them be. As long as they did not seek to interfere with any KSA operations we saw no reason to restrict them. The government was notified by the Monolith project scientists and passed along a warning that the kerbs would be picked up and brought back to Umbarg if they did not leave on their own by Saturday. They’re still out there, but again no attempts have been made to interfere with operations either here at the KSC or at the Monolith site itself. They have stayed respectably removed and continued to pray. We’ll have to see if anyone shows up tomorrow to get them to leave and are at least happy to see not all Monolithic followers are actively against what we are doing here.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,074 asteroids, 13 updates and 0 alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Not much stargazing was done this week, but Commander Valentina was out prior to the launch of the Mk5 and caught Mun and Minmus setting side by side behind the Western Mountains, tinged red by light bending through the atmosphere as it neared dawn. Although we couldn’t see it, shortly afterwards Mun’s south pole would have briefly occulted Minmus, perhaps only partially.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 10/11/17

Technically it’s Thursday again, because it’s currently 2:23am – but I don’t count a day as over until I go to sleep and wake up, so it’s still Wednesday dammit, and I’m a day further ahead than I was last week. Whooo!! Small victories, I know. Really it was just a lot of work this week what with the launch, the Block II design, the Deuce redesign, trajectory plotting for Extremis… a lot of work! But if I can keep this momentum going I should be to next Friday by Tuesday next week hopefully. Hopefully!!

KSP v1.3.1

Yea so the update dropped and I still don’t care. Everything is running so well in v1.2.2 I don’t want to mess with it. I don’t have the time to mess with it and don’t have a reason to mess with it. Nothing I’m doing in the game for the remainder of the year would be any better on v1.3.1 than it is now on v1.2.2. My plan right now is to look into a version upgrade over the xmas/New Year holiday. (Well ok, I do wish I could use this mod to reduce the clutter on my screen when pinning PAW).

Mk5 Block II

Not much to say here I won’t be revealing over the next month as the launch approaches but I did want to mention that I originally designed the rocket before remembering I could increase the thrust of the boosters, so that was annoying having to go back and re-balance everything to get the proper TWR values I wanted. Especially when dealing with the 5 boosters firing at once, that’s tricky to calculate even with the help of KER, even more so since I had to remove symmetry from the 4 radial boosters to get them placed properly so tweaking the thrust of one didn’t equalize the thrust among all four automatically.

Deuce crash

I liked being an aircraft accident investigator again, even if my job was stupid simple compared to the real guys (I’ve watched a ton of air disaster investigation TV series on real crashes). Watching the video of the flight and the pinned FAR readouts I could see the huge increase in drag when the gear was lowered, so I knew that was the culprit, but I didn’t immediately know why. I know from my flight sim experience that dropping gear does induce drag, but this seemed excessive. I watched previous videos to see how much drag increased on gear drop and it was nowhere near as much as in the latest crash. Then I looked again and saw the prograde marker on the navball still off-center when the gear dropped and that would put the gear bay doors a bit broadside into the airstream. So yea, the crash was a real deal and a learning experience. I also do plan to rebuild the aircraft in the editor from the ground up very carefully because I’m almost positive that roll issue is due to some way the craft is put together. But if not I’ll deal with that when the time comes in two months or so.

Gotta pee!

I did kinda have to take a crap by the end of that flight and even if I didn’t I thought it was a funny thing to put in. I get inspiration from everywhere.

Archive photos

Almost every image I take isn’t just a simple F1 keypress capture and some of the more elaborate ones can actually take an hour or two to construct, capture, and edit. I just don’t have that time right now, especially when it comes to events I’ve already captured. Why go through all that trouble again and at the same time feel like I have to do something a bit different to help justify recapturing the same scene? Not to mention filling my photo albums with similar stuff. So archive photos will be more of a thing moving forward. I will still attempt to create original content when I can, but if I can depict a similar scene with an older photo that’s a thing I’m going to do.

Mk5 launch

Some more time that held things up this week was spent refactoring some of the AFCS code and then having to come up with new ascent code to go with it. If you want the programmery details check out this reddit thread I made. It’s too bad kOS can’t open a file properly so it throws the access errors, it was legit cool to just paste or type some code in an open text file, hit Save and watch it be executed by the rocket. Now I have to go back to just copying in files and renaming them. Lame. Still, I’m really happy overall with the new boot architecture and it makes designing ascent scripts much easier now that I can just encapsulate various states in their own functions. In the future I hope to be able to code even more generic functions that can just be plugged in via separate files to create various ascent profiles and such.

I had to be careful this launch to remember to 1) reload the older booster specs and 2) re-pitch the launch base back to 85°. I got both and the first try the launch went off perfect. I still did a bunch of “sims” with my stand-up Mk5 slightly-altered version to ensure there were no syntax errors or obvious logical flaws that shouldn’t have made it through what I would consider to be normal quality control for rocket code.

I also let the RNG have full control of the weather and was going to go with whatever it spat out. I use a RNG to determine values for cloud position, height and size. The weather the day cycle prior to launch and the day cycle of launch was determined by the RNG and that’s the way it went. Even though the game doesn’t actually simulate weather I do make sure to use real weather science when I talk about it. For instance mentioning the wind being out of the NNE the previous day would be from a high pressure area off the coast circulating the air clockwise while it is drawn south to the low-pressure storm system over Umbarg. Later the next day when that low-pressure storm system moved past KSC wind was from the SW as low-pressure systems move air counter-clockwise.

Finally, yes the Civvie flight delay was due to me not feeling like I had the time to put it in. Also, I couldn’t see how it would be worth the effort given a Mk5 launch looks the same as a Mk4 launch and I have plenty of videos of those already, even if they are only from the ground. The Block I burns longer in its first stage – not much of a difference but I guess it’s enough for me to try to get some aerial footage of it.


I’ll talk more about the whole trajectories thing after I make the post about it in a few weeks. Really tho – almost 1,000 to plot!