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Feb 02 2018

Operations Summary – Week of 1/29/18

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Deuce Wraps up PR Tour

The hop from airport to airport around Kerbin ended this week when the Deuce successfully returned to KSC after its longest continuous flight yet. Earlier in the week pilots Jebediah and Valentina took the aircraft from Kravass to Sheltered Rock, then from Sheltered Rock to Ockr. Along the way for each flight various records were broken for altitude and speed, which can be reviewed on our records page. Overall the reaction to the Deuce has been lukewarm from the average commuter looking to get from city to city. Although it can travel over 3x faster than airships, it is much louder due to the engines being so close to the cabin and more cramped than a normal airship passenger gondola. The views out the windows don’t show much except wing and engine unless you’re sitting far to the rear. Ultimately the style and comfort of airship travel has seemed to have won out over the speed of aircraft – but for companies that ship cargo between cities speed is of the essence and comfort is not a concern. C7 has been approached by several interested parties along these lines and although demand for the Deuce looks to be nowhere as high as hoped, purchase orders are still looking like a good possibility in the near future.

Right now the Deuce is back in the Horizontal Assembly Building undergoing a full maintenance checkout to see how it handled the long series of flights these past two weeks. We expect a report from C7 on their future plans next week. We do know that once the checkout is complete the Deuce will have a camera system installed and be ready to carry out further contract and science missions. As for the Civvie, right now it is mostly replaced by the Deuce but should the one aircraft we have fall out of operation for any reason all three of our Civvie fleet are ready to step up, and they are still useful for any atmospheric sampling missions, which require speeds remain under 100m/s.

Progenitor Advances to the Mk6 Block I and II

The announcement earlier this week made the Progeny Mk6 Block I the new current rocket in use, retiring the Mk5 and looking ahead at possible plans for an orbital Mk7. Exciting stuff! The engineering team is still making a careful review of all the data from the last Mk5 flight and comparing it against previous launches, most notably the second Mk5 Block I flight that flew almost as high as this last one. They will have their comprehensive analysis published next week, and we can see about scheduling the next launch, likely to be a round of several now that the design has been locked.

February Outlook

A new month has arrived, and it’s time to get an overview of what we’re expecting over the next 28 days of this short month:

  • Regular Deuce missions – we’ll be pressing the aircraft into full service with Jeb and val operating. Genesis says they already have numerous observation contracts lined up and Lead Scientist Cheranne is ready to load it with instruments
  • Continued KerBalloon missions – ever the stable income getter, Bill and Bob will be busy releasing numerous balloons across the surface of the planet, with greater experience leading to more mission autonomy and further-flung research sites
  • Extremis Phase Two – the final round of trajectories will be selected for deep analysis over the next few months
  • Ascension K2-X testing – the engine prototype will arrive this month for integration with its fuel tank in the VAB then be installed out in the test stand currently under construction on the R&D campus for static firings
  • Progeny Mk6 Block I launches – we fully expect to be launching rockets this month, don’t worry!

ATN Database & Financial Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,494 asteroids and 5 updated with new observation data.

Head of Finances Mortimer Kerman released our first financial report for the year. Lots of red, but this was to be expected thanks to the large expenditure needed to get our new Administration Center built. While Genesis has managed to stay in the green despite all the Deuce testing, Progenitor has fallen back into the red thanks to the failure to fully recover the last rocket. Overall though we project growth once again for this year so in time those numbers will all turn green.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

We are approaching opposition with Duna, which brings us closest to the red planet on each orbit. Now is a particularly good time to watch Ike drop its massive shadow on the planet since we are still at an angle great enough to not have Ike be in the way at the same time. No other body in the system gets thrown into darkness as much as Duna does from Ike, which is a serious consideration that needs to be taken into account for future Duna missions, both on orbit and on the surface.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/30/17

It’s TUESDAY BABY!! I don’t feel horrendously tired and overworked but I still managed to get a crapton of work done, so that’s a great thing. 19 images posted this week, and those in-flight photos are no joke – some of them take me upwards of an hour or more for each shot due to getting things setup and needing multiple layers to composite into the final image. It’s rare that I just snap a screenshot and post it. Generally there’s something that needs to be touched up in some way or another. I don’t really have much to say this week, just want to keep myself moving now that I have good momentum and am working on getting my lead time built back out again. The one thing I wanted to cover was the finance sheet.

I spent a good deal of time at the end of last year reorganizing the finance spreadsheet I use not just to track income/expenses for the Agency and its programs but to also keep track of my part inventory, crew status and aircraft status. When I made up the end of year graphics I almost had a tough time coming up with the flight statistics because I never kept things discrete and just lumped totals together. Thankfully the limited amount of operations in 2016 meant that I didn’t have many missions there to go back through and add up distance and stuff that I could subtract from the overall totals I had on record to get numbers for just 2017. Moving forward now each aircraft has its own logbook that totals everything up in a separate sheet so I have a quick reference for totals but can easily go an find out how many kilometers were traveled in a just a given month. I also learned how to link to the 2016-17 workbook to ensure that if there was any reason I had to go back and retcon some finances the changes would carry over automatically to the 2018 workbook. Basic Excel stuff but still a first for me. Because I like people seeing how things are really done, here is a snapshot of the full financial spreadsheet up to this point.

One other thing I want to comment on is how the Progenitor Program has progressed. I had indeed originally planned out up to the Mk5 and that was it – I had no original plans for the Block I or Block II variants and I had no plans for a Mk6 and had also originally planned for this rocket to be a sub-orbital option only so the Mk7 was also not conceived of originally. The fact that the Block II stands as a means to fully explore the radiation around Kerbin was also completely unplanned. Yes I do think out a lot of things but I also just go with how things play out in a lot of cases as well.

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