Dec 22 2017

Operations Summary – Week of 12/18/17

View post on imgur.com

2017 Year in Review

And so we come to the end of our first full calendar year of operations. It’s been a year of crazy ups and downs but overall great progress has been made for both rocket and fixed-wing flight that we hope to continue in 2018. We saw great financial success this year with positive growth as well. If you didn’t see our various infographics covering the year that was, they are available in the gallery above but here are full-res versions:

Be sure to also check out the Best of 2017 photo album on flickr, which has our top 100 images from the last year out of 900+ that were posted. Here’s looking forwards to a great 2018!! Don’t forget you can review anything from this past year via the Program pages. Also be sure to check out our in-development Operations Tracker (actual link to the tracker is in the project description) and give us some feedback – we hope to launch it at the start of 2018 to replace and combine the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster – you can look in the ReadMe to see all the new features and changes it will bring.

If you want a preview of what’s coming in 2018, check out the flight analysis for our last launch of 2017.

Monolith Developments

Earlier this week the office in Umbarg where pilgrims register for the ability to visit the site of the Monolith was attacked by a gang of masked kerbs wielding blunt heavy weapons that were used to smash windows, furniture and other large objects. The flying glass and falling objects sent 8 kerbs to the hospital with minor injuries. All the attackers vanished into the natural caverns before authorities could arrive on the scene. Since then all known Monolithic groups have denounced the act, which means either one or more of them is lying or an as-yet-unknown group of radicals carried out the assault. Whether they are organized or not is a question authorities are still looking to answer.

In response to the attack the registration office was shut down indefinitely and the government rounded up all current worshipers around the Monolith site and had them sent back to Umbarg, where they were released. Access to the Monolith has been restricted once again to all but research personnel until the investigation into the attack is complete.

The long-awaited report on the progress of the Monolith research was also finally released this week, perhaps as a placating gesture to those who are looking for the scientists to wrap up their work and move on. Unfortunately that’s not the message the report sent, which contains way more questions and speculation than it does answers, meaning scientists will be poking and prodding for quite some time longer.

Asteroid Just Misses KSC

The same day the Monolith registration office was attacked a large explosion was heard to the northeast of KSC accompanied with a brightening of the night sky on the horizon. The space center began to evacuate immediately under the assumption that an asteroid crashed into or exploded low over the ocean, which meant large waves could soon be washing inland. Thankfully due to the operations shut down last week not many kerbs remained at KSC and the center was cleared within 15 minutes although no large waves ended up appearing. In the days since we’ve learned that a merchant vessel has been reported missing and could have been in the vicinity of the asteroid explosion, which must have happened higher up than originally feared but could have still produced a deadly shock-wave for anything in the immediate area. That was certainly a close one!

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,360 asteroids and 18 updated with new observation data. We won’t be posting any new SOI entries next week on our twitter account, so if you want to keep tabs on what’s flying through the system keep an eye out for updates to the Asteroid Plots album on flickr.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

A simple snapshot of Mun that doesn’t show what’s really happening at this moment, as the Class-C moonlet Alaba enters Mun’s SOI for an unscheduled pass, much to the chagrin of astronomers who attempted to predict its trajectory all the way out to an eventual Munar impact in 2021. We now know that isn’t going to be happening, but new predictions have since been made with revised data and calculations. We’ll just have to see what happens now.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 12/19/17

Planned to be writing this yesterday but ended up with a lot more work on my plate this past week than I had anticipated, mostly with the Year in Review stuff, which wasn’t that hard to get assembled thanks to very good record keeping on my part but there were instances where things could have been easier. I’ve already made or plan to make the changes necessary so that compiling end of year data for 2018 will be even quicker. Now that this last week of operations is over I can blaze through the next week, which will manly consist of keeping tabs on asteroids and still watching for any cool celestial happenings to photograph for when ops resume in 2018. I really, really really want my 3-week lead time back so that is going to be priority over the Ops Tracker but I still also hope to have that ready to deploy with real-time telemetry streaming for the first launch of 2018. Yea, we’ll just have to see how all that goes…

Stacking aircraft plots

Visualizing all the flights from 2017 was a bit challenging because although the Flight Tracker can display numerous tracks at once it chokes after about 10-12 depending on the size of the plots involved. It didn’t help also that there was two bad plots in there I hadn’t ever realized were formatted wrong causing the entire group to not load. Regardless, I couldn’t just put them all on the map at once I had to do it in batches, so I had to be smart about it and use one of the URL parameters to center the map on a set of coordinates so that as I changed out the plots the map position would always be the same. Fortunately at the time I was doing this the map service was down, leaving me with just plots on a gray background. Perfect!! I took screenshots of 3 separate groups of plots then removed the gray to leave only the lines. About this time the map tiles began loading again so I just overlaid them all on a bare map in Paint.NET. et viola!

Seeking accurate orbital propagation

The troubles with long-term predictions of Kerbin’s moonlets isn’t some plot device I have devised, it’s a real problem I’m having when using KSPTOT. Something about the way KSPTOT handles precision or the game handles precision or the way the game loads in orbital data for vessels or the way KSPTOT loads data for vessels or the way the game integrates the orbits or the way KSPTOT integrates the orbits – something is off and I’m still not sure what it is but the experiments continue and I’m working closely with the KSPTOT author to figure it all out. This stuff is vital to long-term missions so it’s important to get right and it’s great the KSA has a chance to do this with these moonlets before starting any long probe journeys.

Would I let an asteroid impact KSC?

Honestly dunno. I think it would depend on what’s going on at the time, both in the story and in real life for me. Maybe I could use a break? Maybe the KSC could use an excuse to start over? Maybe… I don’t know, we’d have to see. Just know that there was a close one, the Class-D came down through the atmosphere only about 200km away.

Easter eggs!

The airport diagram that was published this week for KSC contains the actual comm frequencies for the Shuttle Landing Facility.

There have also been a couple more contract waypoints that have been changed from the game’s literal naming scheme:

  • Sector IBL0TR for Isana’s Bane and as it reminded me of Isildur’s Bane from LoTR
  • Area SL-777 for Scientist’s Luck and 777 for the lucky numbers
  • Zone DJSNM for Scott’s Curiosity – this one was probably the most obvious
  • Site GLE-F8 for Gleena’s Fate

Alright, that’s it

See you all in 2018!! 😁