Jul 19 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 7/15/19

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New Theory for Monolith Launch Interruption

Although everyone (we mean everyone) was excited to finally send the first kerbal up into space, of course the Monolith had other plans. The most frustrating thing about it forming a storm after rocket startup was that we thought we had it licked from the last time it attempted to thwart our missions. Ever since installing the air conditioning units and lowering the interior temperature of the Monolith temple we have prevented any further storms from forming. Or so we thought. The only difference between this launch and previous launches was there was a kerbal aboard the spacecraft. Today we ran additional tests of powering up the rocket while uncrewed with the Monolith A/C disabled and saw no storms form.

Our original hypothesis for why the storms were being generated was because it was in retaliation for breaking through Kerbin’s magnetosheath on a previous Progeny Mk6-II mission. The following Progeny launch is when the storms first developed. Given that the Monolith has taken issue with each milestone we reach, it seemed a logical conclusion. The theory appeared to be satisfied when we installed the A/C for the next mission and saw no storms forming. However that they re-appeared with a crewed launch attempt can only mean that we were not entirely correct.

Lead Scientist Cheranne has determined where she went wrong with her original hypothesis now that we have strong evidence the presence of a kerbal is what triggers the storms. It just so happened that the launch following the Mk6-II mission was carrying materials science bays aboard which included several kerbal tissue samples to be exposed to space. Apparently this was enough biomass to trigger the Monolith to thinking a kerbal was being launched. Why? We won’t attempt to fully understand an alien technology. The launch was carried out once the Monolith had exhausted the heat energy available to it and the next launch, which used the A/C, did not have any kerbal biomass aboard, nor has any other launch until we attempted a crewed flight.

The good news is that the storm was both significantly weaker and short-lived compared to the ones that were stirred up originally, so the idea of cooling the Monolith is still valid but obviously the current setup is not enough now that the Monolith is actually trying again. This is where Wernher von Kerman and his R&D think tank come in, as they’ve been working on research into direct cooling applications with a much higher efficiency to possibly apply to future cryogenic technologies. They believe they can rig up an apparatus around the Monolith over the weekend that will chill it even further.

Of course, this direct access to the Monolith did not come without repercussions from the religious community. Negotiations were thankfully short since KSC has for some time been working through the courts to block any further construction around the containment dome as it still falls on their property. We have gotten the campus to agree to drop all cases and allow more structures to be built in exchange for encasing the Monolith in a direct cooling system that can be removed when not in use for launches.

Assuming the new cooling system can be installed and tested over the weekend, we will continue to press for the new launch time of 19:38 UTC next Tuesday.

In related news, Bob has ceded his spot to Bill after being unable to overcome the anxiety he suffered while in the capsule during the storm. Even though Wernher and Cheranne assured him they would be putting a stop to it, he spent some time in the simulator yesterday and found just being in the capsule left him mildly uncomfortable. Throughout their training over the past year the astronauts have all been working to overcome any psychological issues. Bill was actually a bit more overly-anxious that Bob in the past, not liking flying or traveling out at sea – but his training helped bring about a “care-free” mindset and he overcame his sea sickness even before training began in earnest. Bob admits his anxiety issues never got better but he was at least able to keep them under control… in controlled situations. Yesterday’s storm proved he still has more work to do.

Progeny Mk6 Block II Data Visualizes Radiation Belts

This week the flight analysis was released for the latest (and once again probably last) Progeny Mk6 Block II mission. The most interesting thing to come out of it was being able to for the first time draw up an image depicting the size and shape of the radiation belts based off actual data. Be sure to click through the image gallery above to see it or just read the report, which includes more details on the image. Hopefully an orbiting spacecraft (or few) will enable us to create an even better depiction of the belts in the future.

Dhumla Crash Report Released

Also dropping this past week was the ASA report on the Dhumla crash back in May which claimed the life of Flight Officer Aldeny and left Flight Officer Tedman partially disabled. We are extremely disappointed in ourselves for not recognizing the troubles Aldeny was experiencing and are working to establish better protocols for crew mental health. In the end, Aldeny sacrificed his life to save Tedman and we will always remember that he was a brave member of our crew.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,850 asteroids and 7 updated with new observation data. Here are the 27 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 6/18/19

On the last day of my break between the first two fireworks shows. I actually finished up operations to this point back in the first week of June and could have written this then but I realized it was at a point where I would already be back after all my shows. This meant I didn’t have to actually spend time writing up this weekly summary, Block II report or Dhumla report. If I didn’t get them done before I left I could finish them after I got back. Skipping over these items let me progress quicker to the kerbed mission, which I definitely wanted to fly before getting caught up in fireworks for a month. You’ll find out if I made it or not next week.

Scaredy Bob

The decision to swap out Bill and Bob was actually made very late, as I was writing the tweets of the day leading up to the mission itself. I always knew the Monolith storms would come back, but I did not consider the effect it might have on the capsule occupant. The game may not make much use of these stats, but I am:

Bob is the one with the least amount of courage so it makes sense that he would freak out crammed into a tiny capsule in a serious storm. Of course, the average follower doesn’t have access to this information and may not have realized this even if they played the game (which I don’t assume all my followers do). So I had to drop a few hints here and there but I couldn’t make it too obvious that he would have a meltdown. There was the capsule stress test tweet (which I only slipped in the day before it was published – yay lead time!), his trouble sleeping the night before and the quavering voice.

However it could have worked out even better, as evidenced by this photo caption (the tweet of that photo was similar). I don’t remember why I made Bill the one afraid of water and wanting to keep his feet on the ground. Honestly I might have just gotten them mixed up – I still do that a lot. Ah well, I dedicated a paragraph in this week’s Ops Summary to explain how Bill became less scared about things.

Monolith is back, bitches

This was just one of many long-term plot lines I have planned, and it’s nice to see it come to fruition at last. Ever since I had the storms pop up to disturb launches – which at the time simply served to make things more interesting – I gave it more thought and decided that it would be mistaken for breaking the magnetosheath rather than launching kerbal tissue samples into space. I was wondering if anyone would venture to ask what was in the material bays since it was never specified what they actually contained besides “organic and non-organic” samples. If they had I would have retweeted with a response that mentioned kerbal tissue and from that there was a slight chance someone could have maybe figured it out ahead of time. I doubt it though. Hopefully it’s a nice twist followers appreciate. More surprises coming, don’t you worry….

Major plot branch

Not sure if anyone realizes it but the whole random crew selection process that determined the rotation has had a profound effect on the future of the KSA that I myself cannot even measure at this time. There’s a lot that would have been done differently had a different crew member been chosen to be the first into space. I certainly wouldn’t have had any other crew freak out during the storm. I plan a lot of things but there’s just as much that is left to the way things happen to turn out both in the game and out. It’s something that keeps this project enticing for me from a storytelling perspective. I know where I want to go, but I don’t always get there the way I expected.

MSV Aldeny

If you look back far enough in the finance sheets you’ll see that MSV rentals used to cost various amounts of money. This was all completely made up based on nothing but how much I felt they should take of the total mission cost. Eventually I got annoyed at this and “flat service rates” became a thing. All range duties were charged 3000 funds while recovery operations for Progenitor missions were 4500 and Ascension 6200 due to being farther away. These were purposely significant portions of mission income to one day incentivize the purchase of KSA’s own vessels. However since money kept getting scarcer and scarcer I ultimately had to write in a donor vehicle to spare the expense.

Now that I have an actual vessel I had to figure out the cost to operate it. There’s more to maintaining a ship than just paying for its fuel – you have to take care of crew and overall maintenance not to mention port fees and such. But since I have no way to quantify all that in the game I’m just sticking to fuel. I took the vessel and plopped it in the water, ran the engines up to full thrust and recorded how many units if fuel they use up per second from the PAW. That is used, based on distance and its rate of travel, to calculate its fuel cost per mission.

Of course while seeing how much fuel the engines used at max thrust the ship sped up to over 100m/s – that’s a bit unrealistic (okay a lot unrealistic). A more suitable speed would be 32km/h or just under 9m/s (MSV of the class rented by the Maritime Service can travel at up to 50km/h but the Aldeny was described as an older ship). Since the engines can power the ship so much faster than that and I’m using the fuel draw at their max thrust, I don’t feel too bad using only the fuel cost since it’s obviously way higher than it should be.