Feb 01 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 1/28/19

View post on imgur.com

Progeny Mk6 Block II Explores New Regions of Space

We expected great things on this second flight of the Progeny Mk6 Block II rocket but everyone was still blown away by how far it flew up into space, reaching an apokee of 3,122.450km while traveling a distance of over 6,733.712km before re-entering. That latter number is what is being recorded for the agency records because we don’t know how much further the rocket made it before possibly breaking up since it fell out of communications line of sight before entering the atmosphere. Recovery was never a main objective for this mission however – exploring further out into space was the goal and the mission has indeed made new discoveries! We were hoping to find a theorized second radiation belt beyond the first one and the telemetry data published earlier today shows there is more out there than that. Lead Scientist Cheranne is still working with her team on a formal report but anyone out there want to try to interpret the data and tell us what was discovered?

Dhumla Awaits Flight Trials

This week saw a final ground trial that took the aircraft up to take off speeds while also checking on the performance of the flaps, wheel brakes and reverse thrust of the propellers. Although the use of flaps + wheel brakes at high speeds almost led to the aircraft swerving off the runway, post analysis concluded that no problems should occur from the flaps during a normal takeoff run and an abort should use reverse thrust only until speed decreases. Now we just have to await some near-perfect weather conditions to take the plane up into the air for the first time. Today did not pan out so we will have to see how the weather looks on Monday for another attempt. Meanwhile both crew members Tedman and Aldeny spent extra time in the simulator running through the test items.

KerBalloon Rolls Out for First Local Mission of 2019

Taking a contract relatively close to home for the first time in a while, the KerBalloon team conducted a mission this week out in the desert west of KSC. They expect a slow start to 2019 as they are waiting on delivery of additional parts for their balloon probes that have been held up in manufacturing delays. The team is also expanding and splitting into two crews, one for high-altitude releases and one for low-altitude. This will allow the program to take on more far-flung contracts with less downtime between missions, thus more profit. Head of Finances Mortimer did a little jig when he heard the news – he hates seeing red at the top of our monthly balance sheets!

ATN Database & Annual Census

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,080 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data.

The ATN has also released its annual asteroid census, which gives a breakdown of all known asteroids and their mass, type, composition and size distribution.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 1/7/19

Back! Had a safe and successful show in the Middle East, setting 2 new Guinness World Records. Eager to get back into KSA operations.

Dhumla tests

I don’t know what the hell I did to the aircraft between ground trials 2 and 3 – I need to keep better version histories in the craft description box or something. When I loaded the aircraft for the 3rd trial I got this nonsense from the wheels. It stopped when I put on the brakes but then the wheel stress just began to slowly accumulate. WTF seriously?? I had to use my backups (back up your shit!!) to revert to a previous file and that fixed it.

Halfway through the testing process (about 20min real time) I had to stop and restart since I didn’t think I had done my FAR derivatives with a craft that had fuel in it. Turned out the difference in take off speeds between a nearly empty aircraft and fully-fueled one are almost negligible. Along the way in doing this though I re-tested the borked aircraft file and saw some major discrepancies in derivative results between it and the well-behaved aircraft. Again, no idea what the hell I did to it.

I was really bummed I didn’t have time to actually fly it before I went away – well not as an official mission anyways. Obviously it flies, but how well? You all will have to wait until after the first flight test to find out…


The main work for this flight was figuring out how to enable hibernation. The game has a stock hibernation functionality now but some mod I have disables it and I couldn’t find a way to access it through kOS. So instead what I ended up doing was using a SmartPart timer. The kOS code would switch off the computer and probe core, but I added a generator module that still pulled a trickle of charge from the batteries to account for the SmartPart staying active and monitoring how much time remained before it switched the computer and probe core back on.

That was just the mechanical side of things. Operationally I had to retool the boot program a bit so that after it rebooted it would continue to run any commands that were loaded before the hibernation. This is a very powerful function of the spacecraft now, because since I don’t yet have rechargeable batteries or solar panels, early probes on orbit will rely on hibernation to conserve power and carry out longer missions.

Removing the decoupler force and just letting the radial boosters drop away was discovered by accident while testing other things and still having the USI module applied that automatically decouples when the booster runs out of fuel. Since I removed the force from the decouplers, I made them a bit lighter too.

Having to re-program the rocket for a new launch time, as described in this tweet thread, was actually how I went about it and that was so cool because that was done in the game without reloading or restarting the flight and changing anything in the actual code via the editor.

I mention a lot how great lead time is, another example why is that I wrote the code for this launch right before doing the launch but since it was actually weeks away I could publish the new code immediately and this gives the illusion of extensive fore-planning.

Ops Tracker v10

Once I get back into the groove of advancing the KSA timeline I will turn attention to getting v10 out the door. I wasn’t able to do a lot of bug fixing on my iPad while away, but I could at least look over the code and spot where the bugs were likely being caused so now I just have to implement the fixes rather than hunt them down.