Apr 26 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 4/22/19

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Ascension Mk2 Combines Mk1 Block II and Viklun Upper Stage

Ever since we announced the Viklun upper stage we’ve been struggling to find a way to fit it into our existing framework for vessel identification on the website and the Ops Tracker. Identifying it as a separate vessel meant it should have its own tab on the Ascension program page, which wouldn’t have been that hard to do but then how do we identify it on the Ops Tracker, which lets you list craft by vessel name – should it be listed under Mk1 Block II or Viklun Mk1? We show a vehicle patch, program patch and mission patch (so far this hasn’t been used) next to the vessel name in the ops tracker as well. For a Mk1-II/Viklun should we show two vehicle patches?

In the end the Ascension team realized that the Viklun would only ever be used with the Mk1-II lifter, and we wouldn’t be swapping the Viklun with any other lifter so having its own identification wasn’t needed. Additionally the Mk1-II has no use of its own since the Mk1-I can fly the sub-orbital trajectories we need for kerbed flight. Therefore it makes sense to simply combine the Mk1-II and Viklun upper into its own vehicle, the Ascension Mk2, which will be the vessel for orbital needs while the Mk1 remains for sub-orbital flights. In time the Mk1 will likely be phased out as we stick to just orbital missions with the Mk2 and later variations.

We also released tidbits of information here and there about the ongoing assessment of the latest Mk1 mission: The re-entry data showed a peak force of 17Gs during deceleration – survivable but not without some potentially nasty side-effects. This was actually greater than the previous re-entry due to the extra height and speed thanks to the Launch Escape System malfunction. We will have to adjust the trajectory to fly longer and lower to reduce these stresses down to no more than 14G. The launch pad has been undergoing inspection after every launch and we’re not seeing as much damage done as expected, which means we could potentially allow the Ascension rockets to leave the pad at full thrust rather than waiting to clear the tower. The heat shield lost only 2.5% of its ablative material, which means a thinner shield could be used and save up to 180kg of mass, giving the Mk2 upper stage an extra 65m/s of Δv. Two of the three remaining Mk1 lifters set to fly full missions are getting their horizontal fins realigned to 5° from vertical to help the rocket pitch downwards more, as the flight data shows the elevator controls were still able to pitch upwards when needed.

More on these findings plus additional details are coming in the full report expected sometime next week. You can also check out this tweet for a short clip of the rocket clearing the launch tower on lift off.

Progeny Mk7-A Makes Official Debut

We kicked off this week with the reveal of the first rocket in the new Mk7 line from the Progenitor program. Continuing to be true to its namesake, the rocket will be a pathfinder for new technologies that will eventually make their way to the larger Ascension rockets. The rocket could see first flight as early as June.

In additional Progenitor news, a new launch has been scheduled! This Mk6-I rocket will test the one Extremis instrument that is small enough to fit as a payload, the hemispherical ion trap. Made to study charged particles emitted by the kerbolar wind while cruising through interplanetary space, it will also find plenty to study within the inner radiation belt around Kerbin. Due to the requirements of this instrument, there’s something slightly different about this rocket – anyone see it?

C7 Aerospace to Resume Operations in May

There’s still been no formal release by the government on what is actually going on behind closed judicial sessions in the capital but C7 employees (and us by way of partnership) have received memos that their work will be allowed to resume next month. Our founder and Operations Director Drew Kerman will be visiting Sheltered Rock next week to be fully briefed – we’re not sure how much he’ll be able to reveal but it’s nice to know this whole ordeal is finally drawing to a close and we can get back to Dhumla flight testing!

KerBalloon Keeps the Funds Flowing

After several failed negotiations KerBalloon finally landed a pair of contracts – one for each team. This will give us a bit more financial boost for this month although the increased length of missions for the KB team have decreased income from the program overall. It has still managed to surpass 1M funds gross income recently, so there has been talk of additional low/hi-altitude teams being put together.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,469 asteroids and 3 updated with new observation data. Here are the 29 asteroids that were discovered this past week:

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 4/12/19

well except for doing up the Mk7-A blueprint this has been a pretty easy week I breezed through in like 3 days. Word.

Still not entirely sure I’m fully enthusiastic about returning to all the work involved with aircraft flights but at the same time I’m feeling kind of bored between rocket flights soooo hopefully it balances out.

The ground smoke from the launch tower video did come from the rocket, I then switched it off via the SmokeScreen particle emitter edit window as it rose off the ground. I hid the window by placing it over the launch tower itself at the bottom of the screen and then covering it up with a mask – the image of the launch tower overlaid upon the video. Simple.

Is there ever going to be a full Ascension launch video? I’ll see how things look once I get up to KSP v1.6 with the new Scatterer and DX11 enabled with KS3P as well. I’m able to get good-looking still shots but to be honest my video capture FPS and the way things look on the ride to space aren’t really that great in my opinion and I want to show better quality. I’ve seen better quality out there, which is another reason I’m holding off. If anyone has tips for video capture (I’m just still using Fraps at the moment, although I do also have BandiCam) go ahead and leave a comment or DM me on twitter.