Feb 09 2018

Operations Summary – Week of 2/5/18

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Progeny Mk5 Retirement Complete, Mk6 Launch Date Set

With the release of the final flight analysis report the Mk5 has officially been laid to rest and the first Mk6 Block I is now fully set to make its debut flight just next week on 2/15 @ 21:01 UTC. This was made possible by having on hand nearly all the parts necessary to construct the rocket since we’ve had them waiting to build a Block II for the past few months. Now with the Block II delayed indefinitely it’s time we put these parts to good use. We have ordered parts for 3 more Mk6 Block I rockets that will arrive over the next few weeks and allow us to launch another Mk6 every 1.5 weeks or so. We could probably shorten that time but we want to keep the VAB crew from getting overworked as during this time the Ascension K2-X engine will be arriving for integration and testing followed by the first full Ascension rocket.

Deuce Enters Service, Suffers Early Mishap

After being checked out and fitted with a new external camera system and full suite of science instruments the Deuce performed its first official mission yesterday. Unfortunately it seems the mechanical checkouts were not as thorough as they should have been because a hydraulic leak was not found in the lines that serviced the left-side landing gear. This forced Val and Jeb to perform a rather unusual landing with one engine and only two good wheels. Damage to the aircraft was inevitable but Commander Valentina showed her skill and reduced the impact as much as possible, enough so that the mechanics say they can have everything patched up in just a few days.

However the event did uncover a serious mechanical issue with the landing gear. The culprit was a very small leak in the hydraulic lines servicing the gear bay, which would have not been a problem if the flight had been shorter. By the time the Deuce returned to KSC all the fluid had leaked out, which meant the doors could not be forced open against the air stream. A manual deployment crank is available and was used by co-pilot Captain Jebediah but the gear would not lock. The manual deployment crank is not designed to impart enough force to lock the gear in place, a small independent reservoir of hydraulic fluid is meant to provide additional push at the point of full extension. It was empty, because during the build of the aircraft someone erroneously tied it into the main system that had the leak. A check of the right-side landing gear found the same assembly flaw. In addition to fixing this, a full review will be made of assembly procedures as well as maintenance procedures so such a small leak can be caught in the future and any newly-assembled Deuces are put together properly in this regard.

In additional Genesis program news, check out what’s coming next – a dedicated cargo hauling aircraft in addition to a new Deuce built with some minor design changes.

KerBalloon To See Decline in Mission Cadence

Wrapping up a low-altitude balloon mission this past weekend, KerBalloon has a new contract lined up for next week but has informed Head of Finances Mortimer to expect a possible reduction to income given that the missions they plan to execute this coming year will be more far-flung from KSC and take longer to carry out. Factoring this into our 2018 fiscal outlook Mortimer says we are still looking at a good year ahead if the Deuce and Mk6 can do their part in carrying out numerous successful missions. Although the vehicles themselves are both still operating at a loss, their parent programs are seeing profit or near to profit, and both are seeing reductions in their debt.

ATN Database

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,543 asteroids and 4 updated with new observation data.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

We’ve posted shots of Minmus and Mun in close proximity before and also after or near an occultation but low to the horizon during sunset gives this particular image a nice hue to go along with the sight of seeing Minmus “rise” from behind Mun.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 2/6/17

Oh hey, it’s Tuesday again. That’s cool. Better than Wednesday. Still, I had hoped to push ahead a bit more but mainly ended up feeling a bit under the weather and burned out so I spent some time watching movies and playing GTA: Online with one of my pals. Also some IRL work related stuff that consumed a greater portion of my time than is normal. So yea, I’m happy to have “broken even” and ended up where I was last week. It was a good week to take a break too since not much was happening. Doubt I’ll be able to push ahead much in the next week with all the Ascension and Progeny stuff coming up, plus another long Deuce flight to take care of. Nice to have a few days lead still, if I actually get sick with flu or whatever I should be able to make it back before my lead time runs out.

Deuce gear issue

So I had a real surprise on final approach when I realized only one gear had extended. I was like “errrr…..uhm…. ok guess I’m making a go-around…” yea I was completely baffled. This was not planned. I retracted the gear okay and made another approach but extension on the one gear failed again, so I was forced to come up with a plan to land that would still save the aircraft from being out of service for weeks or months. I have plenty of flight sim experience and watched plenty of air crash investigation shows (I fucking love those) so I know how various emergencies are handled and this is pretty much what you would attempt in the real world when possible.

So what happened? Turns out for some reason the “cannot deploy while stowed” issue reared its ugly head. I have no idea why because I don’t recall making any changes to the landing gear or engine pods in general, so can’t explain how this issue came about now and not earlier. I also didn’t notice the onscreen message saying the gear couldn’t deploy because it is mostly hidden under all the UI windows I have open in the upper-left corner of my screen. I saw it on review of the flight video. Thankfully this issue has an easy fix in the form of the “Deploy Shielded” option in the Part-Access Window, so I can just enable that and not worry about this anymore.

Well, it was something interesting that was fun to write about at least. It also gave me an excuse to delay the flight on Friday – if I had flown that I would not be writing this now. Will admit I almost forgot to actually show the gear partially extended when I took the crash photo of the aircraft. Just started the animation and snapped a photo at the right moment when it first touched the ground.

If you want to see what the actual landing looked like, here’s the video. God dammit those wheels, man. I still don’t know how to set them up properly. Even when I land normally they’ll bounce me around all over the place. But whatevs I still land.

Deuce rebuild

So I said a few weeks ago I was happy I got the Deuce working from KSP v1.2.2 even though the FAR numbers were wonky. Well, it’s still been bothering the hell out of me and since I knew I had to give the Deuce new engines that would change the weight distribution and lead me to have to modify the aircraft anyways I decided to rebuild it from the ground up again. It actually only took a few hours and the FAR numbers were pretty much perfect on the first checkout. Awesome. I think I may even be able to take off without having the landing gear slide me off the runway unless I disable their friction.

The new engines were needed not just for performance reasons but because the current ones I’m using have screwed up AJE configurations. I can actually get negative thrust if I throttle all the way back while flying. Thankfully I found perfect engines to upgrade to that use good , recent configs, supply greater horsepower, reside in the same level on the tech tree and are actually based off the ones used on the DC-2, which is largely the aircraft the Deuce is based off to begin with. There will be more info on the engines released next week.

Ops Tracker updates

The tracker is now up to v3.1.0 and I’ve been putting some time into finally getting ready to update to the most recent version of Lealfelt, which runs the dynamic map of Kerbin’s surface (and the other bodies when I get to them). First step was to host all the image tiles myself instead of pulling them from the webarchive.com servers. I had hoped this would be faster and prevent any grey squares from showing up due to loading time outs but unfortunately my shared host has turned out to be not much better, although things do seem to not load less often. I hope sometime this week I’m able to convert over to the recent Leaflet version without breaking too much stuff in the process regarding the dynamic map. If it’s a lot I will have to revert and block out some extended time to really work on it, which won’t be this week for sure. Regardless, I want this done soon because the known issues with the current map are preventing me from adding live streaming telemetry for rockets (and aircraft in the future).

There’s also been renewed discussion and progress in the creation of new map data that could update the biome maps and allow greater levels of zoom. Collaborating with a few forum users and hopefully can share more soon!