May 11 2018

Operations Summary – Week of 5/7/18

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Progenitor Program Wraps Launch Campaign with Successful Final Flight

The flight analysis from the last launch was posted earlier today, summarizing both the flight and its relation to previous launches at increasing azimuths while exploring the region of hazardous radiation above the planet. This last launch showed no increase in radiation levels and has allowed the team to decide how they want to continue with the Mk6 Block I and Block II to attempt to further define the shape of the radiation region. The current plan is to launch another Mk6 Block I northward at the end of this month to see if similar radiation readings can be obtained – lift off is scheduled for 5/29 @ 13:49 UTC. After that by mid-June we will have assembled two Block II rockets that will be used to attempt to punch through what we think is the thickest region above the equator.

This week’s launch was also nearly scrubbed by a coordinated effort from Monlithic followers that thankfully did not execute as planned. A lone kerbal was intercepted by KSC security when he ran out of the public viewing areas towards the launch pad screaming religious verse. The viewing areas are just over 600m away from the pad and running full tilt a kerbal in good shape could have reached the rocket inside of 5 minutes, which was how much time remained to launch when the runner left the viewing area. According to the leader that ran out, the plan was for around two dozen followers to storm the launch site to overwhelm the security forces trying to catch them all. Why this didn’t happen, the leader could not say – they either got cold feet, thought he was joking or thought they didn’t have enough kerbs as many could not make the launch after the timing was moved up. The leader was released later that day, as we have no real charges to bring up that would stick in court. Everyone involved has been black-listed from visiting KSC in the future and the security teams have been discussing whether to implement additional measures during launches.

Ascension Program Rough Timeline Published

Although we tried our best to stick to the original plan of launching the Ascension Mk1 by the end of this month, too much time was spent idle during the legal/political mess earlier this year. The delay isn’t too bad though, with the current launch date set for no earlier than 6/5, which is the soonest we can get the whole vessel assembled if no problems arise during integration. The stabilizer fins and control surfaces are set to arrive this coming week while the 1 ton test weight is finishing up manufacturing in Ockr to be shipped over to us so we can put in the instrumentation and batteries. A second launch will follow after the next rocket finishes construction by the end of June for lift off at the start of July. The plan for these early first flights remains the same as covered earlier.

Here is the rough timeline for kerbed space flight, which will fall under the Ascension program:

Jun: capsule prototypes delivery
Jun-Jul: ground/atmospheric capsule testing (kerbed/unkerbed)
Aug: space capsule testing (unkerbed)
Oct: capsule production delivery
Oct-Dec: ground/atmospheric capsule testing/training (kerbed/unkerbed)
Jun-Dec: crew training

Jan-Feb: Space capsule testing (unkerbed)
NET Mar: Kerbed sub-orbital flight
Jan-?: crew training
mid-2019: Kerbed orbital flight

Deuce Explores Polar Radiation

A two-day mission to the northern ice caps was conducted by Commander Valentina and Captain Jebediah this week, the second attempt after their first try had them turning back due to increasing levels of radiation being detected by their onboard instruments. After the Deuce returned to KSC for active operations last week it was fitted with temporary shielding to protect just the cockpit from radiation levels up to 0.5rad/hr – any more and too much additional structural work would have had to have been done. Thankfully the voyage through the hazardous radiation region did not record levels higher than 0.078rad/hr at 6km, and levels only as high as 0.067rad/hr at 3km. The high level at 6km remained constant for 19.635km while the high level at 3km remained constant for only 18.844km, which means at ground level the radiation increase should be even less for an even shorter amount of time. While we obviously wouldn’t suggest anyone camp out there (it takes ~37rads to start to show symptoms of radiation sickness) travel through the area is not an issue, which is great news for researchers planning polar expeditions. An airship mission dispatched earlier this year also confirmed a similar region at the southern ice caps, though it was not prepared to explore it fully. Both regions have colorful atmospheric aurora over them, which no one thinks is a coincidence.

Also this week saw a new blueprint published for the Deuce’s final design as well as an early render of the K-3X.

KerBalloon Loses Payload Due to Stormy Seas

On their second attempt at braving the notoriously rough southern seas to launch a low-altitude balloon for temperature measurements, the crew of the MSV Lymun were unable to dispatch the smaller recovery craft to fish out the payload before it took on too much water and sank. KerBalloon program managers are unable to afford new equipment to replace the reusable parts that were lost, but enough remains to continue operations. They are also looking at ways to mitigate loss in rougher waters, including adding flotation collars to the balloon casing and seeing if the Maritime Service Vessel itself can carry equipment that would enable it to lift the payload from the water without having to dispatch a smaller craft unable to handle rough seas.

Alaba’s Next Encounter Predicted

While the astronomers keeping tabs on Alaba are still working to figure out the software bug that caused them to miss the last encounter, they’ve manually worked around the issue to discover that the moonlet should next pass through Mun’s SOI on 5/15 @ 01:44 UTC.

Extremis Extends Phase Two Calculations

Check out this report to learn more about the completion of the initial run of 70+ trajectories and why more searching is needed for missions to run between late 2018 and early 2021. Thankfully a great route was found for late 2021 that will fly-by Eve, Jool and Plock, taking just under 3 years at a cost of 2.6km/s of delta-V.

ATN Database

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 1,931 asteroids and 3 updated with new observation data.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 5/1/18

Rough last week and change. First off, Avengers Infinity War was coming and I had to of course do a marathon of all the previous movies leading up to it, so that was 2-3 per day for 6 days to get through them all. I saw Infinity War the Friday night it came out and yea, it was pretty great. On top of all that a vehicle accidentally rammed my building and so I lost most of a day or two while access was limited due to structural damage, and thus I couldn’t work on my PC and had to shack up with my aunt and grandma down the street. Long story short, I’ve only got 10 days lead time now so it’s time to grind and earn back those 11 days to return to a 3-week lead. Inevitably the KSA operational pace suffers as a result, although I try not to let it.

Custom contracts

I’ve mostly given up on letting the game give me contracts and have just started using old contracts as a basis for new contracts that I assign myself. The game’s contract system isn’t entirely useless though as I still like it for giving me ideas for contracts.

Mk6 launch

I suppose there was some slight unconscious bias in choosing 5 flights at 15° intervals knowing ahead of time what the shape of the radiation field around Kerbin actually looks like (you can see it in the Map view or in the Tracking Station using 0,1,2,3 on the numpad) but I did not calculate anything beforehand to determine that I would miss the field by the last launch. The plan just seemed to make sense regardless of what I already knew. If the last flight hadn’t missed the radiation field, the Progenitor program would be doing something completely different, like buying 2 more Mk6 Block I rockets to push all the way direct south.

So the system crash due to a write error was a real thing. For some reason kOS had a sharing issue with the telemetry log file, which meant it was trying to write to it while another program was using it. I don’t know what program that was because I didn’t have the file opened in any window I could see. After the second time it occurred I restarted my computer and then the entire launch went fine on that third try. I still kept the crash as a story point tho, and I could have actually done what I said was done to recover the rocket. I was ready to do it if it happened a third time.

I actually forgot to remove the code that detached the fairings during the flight itself, but since that doesn’t really make a huge difference in the outcome I didn’t bother re-flying after realizing it.

Yes, the launch viewing area really is just over 600m from the pad and yes a kerbal really could run that far under 5 minutes – although to be honest I did not think to fact check this when I first wrote the tweets.

Damn typos

I hate it when I miss these. Oh well.