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Mar 22 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 3/18/19

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Ascension Capsule Updates

As feared, the test capsule is no longer fit to fly into space due to damage from last week’s Launch Escape System pad abort test. While it would not survive the stresses of launch and the vacuum of space, it can however still be used for future tests of the LES. Lead Engineer Simon and his team have confirmed the LES tower motor was simply the wrong one, the builder had used the same solid rocket motor for all 5 positions rather than a shorter-duration motor for the tower. We can take the two LES parts we have now and easily fix them to work as designed while 3 more have also been ordered for future flights/testing.

Next week one of two new capsules will arrive, the primary capsule meant to be used for kerbed missions. The backup capsule will arrive later next month. Since the test capsule can no longer be used for a sub-orbital flight the primary capsule will become our new test article while the backup capsule will be prepared for kerbed flight. Once the new capsule is checked out and integrated with its float collar, heat shield, parachute and LES, it will be mounted atop the Ascension Mk1 lifter whose fins have had their angles adjusted (same one used in last week’s test). The launch is currently scheduled for no earlier than 4/16.

We have 3 other unaltered Mk1 lifters waiting in the VAB and one of these will be used to re-mount the test capsule for another LES pad abort test next week on 3/27. We hope for better results this time, with the top motor firing a short burn to tilt the capsule away from the rocket while the lower four push motors send it further than 100m from the pad and much higher so it can land relatively gently under chutes afterwards.

Progeny Mk7 First Missions

With not many ongoing operations these days it’s a good time to look to the future a bit. The upcoming Mk7 will be the first Progeny rocket capable of delivering payloads into orbit – possibly the first rocket altogether if it beats Ascension to orbit. One of the main concerns with operating a payload in orbit is power. Even in the lowest possible orbit it still takes about half an hour to complete one revolution around Kerbin and with the current battery technology and the size limitation of Mk7 payloads we are looking at a few hours at best before power runs out. Larger satellites delivered via the Ascension program could fare better, but still not really more than a day unless they were to hibernate often, which would reduce their usability.

As we’ve been reliant on keothermal energy for the past few centuries, solar power is still a very nascent field that only applies to spaceflight at the moment so it’s been hard to find funding to support development. The recent progress on establishing a surface colony, which could increase use of the power source, has helped but the technology is still years away from practical use. In the meantime we have radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) powered by the radioactive kuudite discovered several decades ago during expansion of our underground city Sheltered Rock. Over the past year the RTGs have undergone various tests to prove their worth as a dependable power source but taking them to space presents new dangers.

Ideally at the end of a satellite’s life-span (propellant) or mission, it will be guided into a re-entry that will return the RTG to the surface intact so it can be either reused or properly disposed of. However we must account for the possibility that accidents can happen on orbit as well as on the way to orbit and the integrity of the RTG casing must not be compromised or we will be responsibly for spreading deadly radiation over the surface of the planet or worse, in the ocean. The first missions of the Mk7 will be to help us test various disaster scenarios using mock-up RTGs that don’t contain any radioactive material to ensure these devices can be safely deployed in space.

KerBalloon Exceeds 100 Releases, Nears 1M Gross

Last week’s mission saw the KerBalloon program exceed 100 releases over the course of its lifetime, which includes both high- and low-altitude balloons. Today the low-altitude KerBalloon team pulled off yet another successful mission, the report of which will go live at this link shortly after we have confirmed they are safely back at KSC later today. Once we receive our contract payment on Monday the program will inch ever closer to being the first to reach 1 million funds in gross income! You can track the total income along with other expenses and monetary breakdowns on their program page.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,314 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 43 asteroids that were discovered this past week:

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 3/17/19

Made it to the end of the week before the end of the weekend as planned. Self high five! Of course, not a whole lot went on this week, nor will not a whole lot go on the next few weeks but that’s the plan to help me quickly get back my lead time.

Not much else to report, other than I’m putting serious thought into a KSP v1.6.1 update shortly. Things are looking pretty great with the new Scatterer release as well as it seems the KS3P post-effects mod has overcome a development hurdle preventing its next release, so that should come soon I hope. This will finally allow me to run the game completely in DX11 or maybe even DX12 and also take advantage of the Textures Unlimited mod, as the current post-effects mod I’m using, SweetFX, only works with DX9.

New goal: end of next week before the end of this week.

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