May 04 2018

Operations Summary – Week of 4/30/18

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Third Progeny Mk6 Launch Sees Continued Success

You can get all the nitty-gritty technical details in the flight analysis report published earlier today, but the TL;DR version is that we’ve once again gone up into space and returned an intact payload, further exploring the hazardous radiation region. The final launch in this campaign remains on track for next Tuesday and we’ve been able to move up the launch time to 12:38 UTC thanks to flying the same science instruments and being able to use the recovered and already-integrated payload to reduce build time.

First Civvie Flight of 2018

Now that the Deuce is in full service we won’t have many missions for the Civvie, however it remains useful for at least one purpose, which is to gather atmospheric samples like it did at the start of this week. This is done periodically over the grasslands to the west and northwest to measure and track the amounts of pollen in the air, which can be a potential health hazard for kerbs living on the surface. The sample areas are well within the range of the smaller aircraft and flying slow allows the air sampler to take better measurements and the scoops to not be damaged by high air flow.

KerBalloon Suffers Stormy Seas

In an attempt to reach Zone 60P-5X down in the southern sea to release a low-altitude KerBalloon the MSV Lymun encountered a severe storm, which is not uncommon in that region. Unfortunately the storm claimed the lives of three crew working the deck who were swept overboard by large waves. The KerBalloon crew remained belowdecks throughout the ordeal and Specialist Bill, who only recently began accompanying sea voyages after staying on dry land throughout 2017, became so seasick he still couldn’t stand up by the time the ship limped back to port later in the day. Needing engine repairs and a general inspection, the ship will not be ready to head out again until late next week at the earliest for another attempt. Bill made a full recovery after a day of rest back on land.

Extremis Completes Phase Two Calculations

We’ve already reported on what the Extremis program astrodynamicists were up to earlier this year and now they are able to move on to the next step as scheduled, which is to determine the fly-by routes taken by the Extremis probes. Originally there were supposed to only be three, but it may require 4 or 5 to get around to visiting all the planets – this is what the team now has to determine. Several routes, like a hop from Kerbin to Eve to Jool, were deliberately not plotted to any further planets so that a feasible route had a better chance of being plotted for an initial mission design before trying to reach more distant targets. We’ll have another update next week with the final results of the trajectory analysis.

Security Tightens Around Monolith as Research Continues

This past weekend saw some pilgrims attempting to approach the Monolith under cover of darkness. They were quickly spotted and apprehended, then released to return to Umbarg via the underground roadway. A story broke the next day on KNN that the pilgrims had been roughed up and threatened by KSC security – this has been denied and we can also confirm these are completely false allegations. Unfortunately there has been an ongoing battle among the news media, political and religious figures ever since the Presider bypassed the Assembly to ratify the laws that allowed surface operations to continue. Thankfully this has for the most part failed to have any affect on us worth reporting, until this past weekend.

Security around the Monolith has since been tightened even further, especially as experiments on the edifice have resumed, which is apparently what the various Monolithic followers find the most repulsive. Another attempt was made to try to access the inside of the Monolith via a high powered laser cutter, which was attempted late last year with a less-powerful version. Unfortunately the failed attempt also took down power to the entire KSC campus for several hours, thankfully not seriously impacting any operations. Interesting news that has come out since then however is that the teams studying the crystal formations over in Umbarg registered an energy output while the laser was firing, suggesting that the heat from the laser was converted to electricity and distributed to prevent the surface from taking any damage. Scientists are still studying the crystals for use as a potential means of energy storage.

ATN Database

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,915 asteroids and 4 updated with new observation data.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Not much happening in the heavens lately but we are approaching opposition with Urlum and Sarnus, visible here rising shortly after sunset as fuel trucks prepare to tank up a Progeny Mk6 Block I rocket. We passed closest approach with Neidon earlier today, although “close” is a purely relative term when talking about a shortest distance of 399,918,562.432km!

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 4/14/18

Everything is put putting right along. So far so good at being able to do a day’s KSA work in a real day. Pacing seems to be on track. So much fun to be launching rockets again!

Mk6 launch

Okay this time I nailed it completely on the first try, data logging and all, which is great because as complexity grows a botched launch is going to cause me more and more time to reset and try again. It may reach a point where if I botch up a launch for some unrelated technical reason I will have to come up with a problem to delay or destroy the vehicle in the story because I won’t be able to try again that day.

A third MSV was introduced now that I’ll be sending KerBalloon missions further afield and the ships I need may not always be available. I was going to have it be more of a last-minute thing because Lymun was damaged out at sea but then I realized they wouldn’t have been dependent on Lymun in the first place because they would have known ahead of time it wouldn’t be available.

I forgot I was going to be away from the computer during the actual launch thanks to the delay I wrote in, which I try not to do. Sometimes I guess I forget about the real world… *sigh*

Once again proof that it’s good I only keep one copy of the finance sheet available for any given month, because it would be a pain to go back and revise previous reports when I find an error or omission like I just did this week when I realized I wasn’t charging the Progenitor program for using UTV vehicles to transport the balloons for release – at least when releasing from land…. which actually makes me realize right now that I charged one launch UTV use when the balloon was released off the deck of the range vessel. D’oh!

So thanks to the fact that I use kOS to save the game as soon as the rocket enters space the boosters are still traveling as well within loaded distance thanks to PhysicsRangeExtender, which means after the launch I can reload the save and track the boosters down to see where they land without having to bother re-launching the rocket.

Alaba encounter

I found another bug in KSPTOT methinks, though the author has yet to respond to my latest forum posts. No worries, he gets around to things eventually. I’m just happy that I can continue to help improve the program even without launching things into orbit. So yea I always keep an eye on Alaba in the tracking station each day to make sure it doesn’t sneak a Mun intercept without me knowing, which is when I caught the most recent one. All observatories were facing away at the time, which is why it took a day for anyone to realize what had happened, since Alaba is only visible for about 1/4 of it’s orbit at this point in Kerbin’s travels about the sun. I’ve already got a workaround for the issue in case it’s not resolved by the next encounter.

Taking over Kerbalism?

Looks like I will finally be forced to take up maintenance of a mod if the author of Kerbalism does not return by the time I’m ready to update to v1.4.x. There’s already someone else taking up the torch but they’ve stripped out the mod’s communication system, which was the most realistic-focused one to be found at this time. Unlike other comm mods it more accurately models the current use and design of the Deep Space Network, requiring vessels to connect to Kerbin via a high-gain antenna and can only talk to or relay data between craft with short-gain antenna (like the Mars orbiters do). In addition it modeled bandwidth of a signal based on distance and power – the further away the probe got the lower the transmission rate became. Signals could also be interrupted by solar activity. I want to keep this in Kerbalism moving forward so I would need to manage my own fork. ShotugunNinja, the original mod author, never said he wasn’t coming back though so I’m hoping he returns and I don’t have to spend additional time on this.

VAB photos

had some integration shots in the gallery this week. They are fun to show off but a royal pain in the ass to make so I don’t do them a lot although over time these past few years I’ve worked up methods to get better at it. Basically I use Editor Extensions Redux to remove the offset limitations and move parts all over the VAB to create the initial layout. Then I park the camera and take several shots of various workers running around. There is a bug(?) that prevents workers off camera from leaving their stationary spots and moving around until the camera looks at them so eventually I have to pan away to get some more action around the vessel parts. If I move the camera I’m never getting it back to that same spot again but panning is okay, I use Floaty to overlay the original perspective so I can look back that same way for more shots. Then I use Action Groups Extended to hide the tool buttons and left-side menu so I can get a wider shot. After that it’s layering and compositing the various images to keep the workers I want and remove the ones I don’t. For cases like this photo where I want to specifically place a worker, I will take a shot of him elsewhere in the VAB at a similar camera perspective, cut him out and composite him into the scene.

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