Aug 10 2018

KSA Operations Suspended Due to Monolith Interference

Earlier this week on Tuesday just after 13:53 local time the Monolith woke up. Everyone at KSC immediately knew this as a massive electromagnetic (EM) pulse surged through all active electronics on campus and the nearby Support Village and shorted them out – in some cases with a shower of sparks and electrical arcs. Minor fires were started in some areas and brought under control as personnel began to evacuate over the causeway bridge to prepare to head for Umbarg. This evacuation plan was set in place after the first time the Monolith sent out such a discharge. Several injuries were reported from burns but no deaths occurred.

Not all staff could be immediately moved off site as we had a Deuce aircraft in the air for its Progeny Mk1-B carry/release mission. Unable to contact them, we had to hope they would be able to fly back and land safely on their own and had what emergency crew we could spare ready near the runway. Aboard the aircraft, after losing radio contact Flight Officers Aldeny and Tedman first considered diverting to Kravass, but because the mission carried little fuel in order to make the climb to altitude easier, they did not have enough to go that far. Next they flew over Umbarg to see if they could contact anyone, but some boats in the bay and an airship on approach reported they too had lost contact with the caverns. Finally they flew back to KSC to see if the space center had received any visible damage. Seeing none, Aldy took the Deuce in closer to get a better look at the condition of the runway in preparation for a landing on the next pass, however at this time the plane’s electrical systems shorted out. Thankfully the Deuce is still largely mechanical-driven from its engines to its control surfaces and even the landing gear have a manual pump. The engines did run rough though and Aldy put her down as fast as possible, fearing they would cut out. The aircraft made a safe landing at 14:09 and the crew was evacuated on the runway.

The fact that the aircraft lost electrical systems some time after the initial EM pulse was why we sent back a team to check on the KSC as soon as we considered it safe – at least as safe as we could guess given we had no idea what the Monolith was actually doing. Could it explode? Release some kind of deadly radiation? We commend the volunteers who returned to the surface to take readings and assess the situation. When they returned the report was both good and bad. The good news is that there appears to be no harmful levels of detectable toxins or radiation in the area. The bad news is that what we initially thought was just a pulse is actually an EM field stretching out to nearly 10km (roughly twice the distance to the Umbarg tunnel mouth) in every direction – the surface crew followed the shore line north and did not have a means to check distance over the water but it’s safe to assume it extends that way too.

The energy generated by the field is more than enough to immediately fry any active electronics within it, which poses some serious problems for us to continue operations at KSC. The two main questions we are looking to answer right now are why the field exists and how long it will persist. Note that in asking why the field exists we mean what is the Monolith doing that is causing the field? Everyone already agrees the incident was triggered by the recent attempt to drill a hole up into the Monolith from underneath through the crystal structure found to form a base beneath the impenetrable facade seen above ground. In the meantime we will be working on the logistics of how to continue what KSA operations we can without the ability to use the Kerbal Space Center.

In addition to the effects the Monolith had on KSC, it once again made use of the crystalline network discovered running through the ground to Kravass and Umbarg. Unlike the first event which was a massive discharge, this time they actually drew energy and sucked both caverns dry of electricity. With no power making it out of the keothermal stations, utility crews quickly got to work inspecting the main power conduits leading from both plants and discovered the crystals had grown into them. It’s likely the Monolith could have been leaching very small amounts of power for months, building up energy. Activating and maintaining the field would require a lot of power, and when reserves ran low it was forced to draw a very not so inconspicuous amount.

It took nearly two days to perform the unprecedented task of taking all keothermal generators offline, cutting out and replacing the crystal-infused conduit sections, and bringing all the generators back online. For quite some time now kerbs have been pressuring the power authorities to rebuild the poorly designed infrastructure, but it wasn’t poorly built and the stance of “if it ain’t broke…” kept redesign plans at bay. This event could finally make those in charge rethink their position, because taking an entire power plant offline to fix a single conduit is not a very efficient repair job. With the crystals removed, additional time will be needed to gradually bring power back to various areas to monitor for any additional drain points. As of right now the EM field does not appear to be affected by the loss of the crystals it was using to gain energy.

This report will also serve as our Ops Summary for this week.

ATN Database

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 2,310 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/3/18


So, I’ve known this has been coming for months. Some of you may have as well if you’ve been reading about the troubles I’ve been having keeping up with things lately but even before that, like last year I dropped some hints of bigger things to come when I triggered the Monolith for the first time. Well, here we are – but not quite as I originally envisioned. That’s not unexpected though, because although I can do lots of plotting on where I want the story to go ultimately it is also affected by events in real life as well as what happens in the game.

So yea, I always planned for there to be something big to go down around this time of the year since for months I’ve been planning an epic 4-week cross country road trip to undertake from Sept to Oct. It’s just that I wasn’t sure where the KSA would be at the time. I had hoped by now the Ascension Mk1 would have made it to orbit, but that didn’t happen so there was a delay in the ordering of additional Mk1 rockets to be constructed and I couldn’t go with my original plot idea – which I’m still going to hold partly in reserve. What I can say, because I’m no longer doing it, was that it was going to destroy the VAB and damage the HAB. The VAB destruction would serve the purpose of not only halting operations but also overcome the problem I noticed and mentioned in a Desk Notes very early on, which is the Tier 2 VAB is not located in the same spot as the original Tier 1 building. So I couldn’t say that they VAB got “expanded” when it was eventually upgraded because the whole structure will have shifted position significantly. So having reason to rebuild it from the foundations up would solve that. However now I don’t need to destroy the VAB to upgrade to a bigger building but I’m not going to say how. That’ll come along in time.

I did want to have operations go on a bit longer through the month of August, but this week I got offered work for a fireworks show over in the Maldives for almost the entire second-half of August and 2 days into September. I’m leaving for my road trip on Sept 8th so that gives me very few days over the next month to work on pushing out my lead time two months in order to be able to let things run while I am not home. I really need the work for extra money so the road trip doesn’t completely clean me out – I know, hard to feel bad for me spending half a month on a tropical island.

In addition to being gone most of this month and all of September, in order to continue to keep my bank account padded since I’m not doing much other work these days I’m likely going to accept an extended fireworks show overseas for New Years, which can begin work as early as the day after Thanksgiving. So after coming home from my road trip I’ll have just under 2 months to work more on KSA ops before being gone all of December. However this doesn’t necessarily mean KSA operations themselves will continue to be suspended for the remainder of the year. But they could.

The main reason KSA ops might be down for the remainder of the year is I’m really frustrated with how far behind I’ve fallen in keeping up with version updates to KSP as well as adding new features to the Ops Tracker and even the website could use a bit of TLC. I’m putting all my time into just keeping ahead of daily operations I have no time for anything else. And yes, I do spend time doing other things as well because as much as I try I just can’t do just KSA ops all day every day. So a big requirement of getting operations back on track will be how much I can get done working through my issues queue for the Ops Tracker as well as getting a KSP v1.4.5 install up and running looking the same as my current v1.3.1 install – which now seems to want to crash a lot when I try to play with all my mods installed. I will look at the log, see what the last mod was doing before the crash, remove that mod and the game will run fine until it somehow finds a way to crash with a different mod after I’ve done nothing else to it. FFS.

So yea, that’s the whole story right now. Circumstances have forced me into this position but again, that’s just the way it is. Yes, it’s a bummer that the KSA might not reach orbit this year like it was originally planned way back in January (among other things) but just like the real space programs you have to plan for the best and work with what you end up getting. Commercial crew from Boeing just got pushed back even later into 2019, and who knows if SpaceX will really be able to keep to its original timeline for crewed Dragon flights, which has already seen some delays (moonshot 2018 anyone?). Let’s not get started on the Just Wait Space Telescope 😛 The important thing is the KSA project itself will continue to endure so eventually the goals sought after during this year will be achieved.