Jan 26 2018

Operations Summary – Week of 1/22/18


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Again Into Space with the Progeny Mk5 Block I

After numerous delays adding up to almost a week we were finally able to launch the first rocket of the year as the latest, and likely last, Progeny Mk5 Block I took to the skies early Thursday. The flight overall was a wild success, implementing a further-refined ascent profile and climbing to a height of 546.46km – just one of several records that were broken. We almost lost the rocket on re-entry however due to the high 2km/s+ speeds at which it slammed back into the atmosphere. The current theory is that the chute either was only able to partially deploy due to the high speeds or did deploy and was ripped apart shortly afterwards. One way or another the rocket was sent into a tumble because it managed to strike the water nose-first, but slow enough that it wasn’t completely obliterated and just wrecking everything down to the probe core. Whatever happened after the chute was triggered, it was violent enough to rip the batteries from their mounts and deny the probe core any power to log the final moments before impact. Another important aspect of note was the fact that radiation levels once again remained elevated throughout the climb to apokee, which continues to be worrisome for our future kerbed spaceflight plans. We’ll have further analysis into this plus more details on the flight next week, primarily in comparison to the second Block I launch, which was the previous altitude record-holder and flew a very different ascent profile that placed it just shy of 500km at apokee.

KerBalloon Tackles Most Difficult Mission Yet

The highly-logistical mission currently underway involves gathering temperature data in the region of the Great Desert, which will involve all modes of transportation. Earlier this week Bob, Bill and two other crew members drove two Utility  Task Vehicles down to Umbarg with the low-altitude balloon mounted on top. They loaded everything up into a cargo airship and flew out to Site 0B-RZ. From this point we have had no contact other than from the airship returning the following day saying they had been dropped off without issue. The plan from that point on was to release and recover the balloon, then trek overland roughly 130km to get to the shore where they would load everything onto MSV Tongjess, which left here yesterday after the rocket launch carrying the high-altitude balloon. They will deploy and recover from Tongjess today or the following days when weather is good, then sail home. We hope to have word of them pulling into port at Umbarg sometime this weekend.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,482 asteroids and 7 updated with new observation data.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

The Deuce kicked off its PR Tour this week by flying Bill and Bob up to Kravass General Airport, the first fixed-wing passenger cross-country flight! Bob managed to snag a shot of Mun out his window as they were descending to land at KGA. We’ll have a full report on the PR tour once Jeb and Val return with the Deuce at the end of the month.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/25/17 (at 9-something am)

Funny thing, here I am on a Thursday morning again except this time I have been up all night! Will catch a few hours sleep after the launch before throwing myself back at things. It is still an ongoing effort to keep the train from derailing as I attempt to lay the tracks out in front faster than it travels. I don’t want to say things will slow down in February but it’s likely things will slow down in February just to make sure I can keep up. But we shall see.

GPU replaced

So despite saying I had a handle on things last week it all began to unravel literally that day. I even bothered to muddle in the AMD graphics panel to underclock the card so it wouldn’t over heat itself while under load but there were times it would just refuse to idle when not under load and also jack itself back up to stock speeds and then heat up to 100+°C and shut down the PC. The thing was totally whacked and I couldn’t control it. I was getting dangerous temperatures watching videos. So that day I was like “fuckit” and found a cheap $100 card on NewEgg (holy hell it’s already out of stock this GPU buyup craze is insane) around the same level as my current HD7970 and was able to pick it up from the warehouse 30min from where I live the next day, which was pretty sweet. I still plan to get a Vega 56 once prices return to sane levels and migrate this card over to my secondary PC which I have plans for if the KSA ever gets a space station set up…

Mk5 launch

So yea the delays were real in a sense that without pushing the launch back there would have been no way I would have been able to do it with the Ops Tracker also being able to serve updates. Thankfully the upgrade to the update system went rather smoothly and I am extremely pleased with the result, I think it’s pretty damn slick now watching the ascent states change during the flight. I can build directly off this system to serve up notifications if you have the page loaded in a tab, but that’s still a low-priority item at the moment.

The launch itself took 5 attempts, which is one of the reasons I’ve been up since yesterday. These flights are pretty long and I don’t timewarp them so the video logs have data from the screen for the entire time. Plus it takes several minutes to reset everything if I need to make another attempt then several more minutes to set everything back up. The first try was ruined early on the pad when I forgot to set a part tag for kOS to reference and couldn’t get back to a clean state without reverting to the VAB. The second attempt was wrecked after the first stage decoupled and kOS couldn’t find the button in the Part Action Window to trigger the fins to blow up. Turns out when you use the Part Action Window Sorter-Outer mod to clean up a PAW and remove stuff it also makes it inaccessible to kOS. Dammit. So I fixed that and the third attempt was the first one that I got all the way through, but then I went and did something extremely stupid by taking just the rocket payload section out to the pad to HyperEdit it into place to satisfy some contracts. Doing this meant the onbard boot script overwrote the entire telemetry data file *sob* and I didn’t even realize this until a little while later while doing my post-flight work. I had to step away from the computer for a while after that one. When I came back the first thing I did was remove that line of code that deletes any previously-existing log file. Then before I launched my 4th attempt I realized the lower fins were set to explode immediately instead of on a 1s delay (I had deleted and attached new ones in the editor earlier this month to adjust their angles) so that’s why it had bumped the 2nd stage on my third attempt instead of separating cleanly. So I actually needed to redo the whole thing anyways. That made me feel a little better. Still, after a clean stage sep and flight up to apokee on the way back down kOS encountered a file share issue and crashed attempting to write out the log data. Shitshitshitshitshit. Okay one more time and finally on the fifth attempt I got everything.

The third attempt that went all the way through didn’t get quite as high, just over 500km, and actually did survive landing so when the payload was destroyed after its chute failed coming back from near 550km I decided to take a middle-ground approach and have it mostly survive. KSP is sometimes pretty black and white when it comes to situations, you either live or you die and at times it works better to have a more grayish scenario.

FAR stability controls

The lack of time I have to do things means I’ve for now given up on the kOS PID controller for keeping aircraft wings level and instead just switch on the roll stability in the FAR window to let me take a break from balancing the aircraft myself on long missions. Would still like to eventually develop a full autopilot suite in kOS for aircraft but that’ll be a ways down the road

Deuce landing

I have a video uploaded if you want to check out what the Deuce looks like when landing. As with the Civvie I need to keep wheel friction disabled during takeoff and landing or the aircraft wants to slide out of control when traveling at around 30-40m/s. Am thinking of writing up a short script in kOS that handles turning the friction on/off for me based on speed. The stupid bounciness is still there but in this instance I was using all stock wheels because of a bug in Kerbal Foundries that doesn’t let the tail wheel touch the ground and the lack of friction control for Kerbal Foundries wheels – but I’ve since learned you can enable friction control for KF wheels in the settings menu, so I’ve switched back to those for the main gear.