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Aug 09 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 8/5/19

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Ascension Mission Prep Proceeds

Big news this week was the scheduling of two new Ascension Mk1 missions:

Uncrewed Mk1 (Flight 8): 8/27 @ 15:30
Crewed Mk1 (Flight 9): 9/17 @ 17:10

More information for each mission is available on the Ops Tracker and are two of the three missions detailed last week. In order to get ready for the mission at the end of this month the K2-X lifter engine that will power that rocket up into space was mounted and fired on our new vertical test stand this week. It showed no issues and will be integrated with the lift stage over the next two weeks. The capsule for the mission is also undergoing readiness in the VAB, it will use refurbished thrusters from its prior mission except for the downward-facing L-ports that get too damaged on re-entry.

Mission scheduling for the next kerbed mission was able to be done after the Mk1 Flight 7 analysis was posted this week. We’re taking additional measures needed to ensure that Val is able to fly the proper ascent profile and spend more time in space.

Work towards the October Ascension Mk2 mission is moving along with the Mobile Launch Platform making good progress undergoing construction in the HAB. Results from the Viklun engine tests last week are showing that it will likely under-perform when in space due to losses in efficiency – but such losses are not too surprising for our first vacuum engine design and future iterations should better achieve the ISP rating they are designed for. This does mean however that work has been put on hold determining how well the Mk2 could reach Mun and Minmus until after the flight and actual engine performance data is acquired.

KerBalloon & Genesis Plan Missions

CFO Mortimer has not been idle, hustling as best he can to land contracts for Genesis, KerBalloon and Progenitor. Progenitor is still coming up dry but a Civvie mission is now in the books for next week to collect more air samples for pollen data. This will be the culmination of data gathering for a 2-year study on pollen patterns put together Lead Scientist Cheranne’s field research team after the biohazard incident in 2017.

KerBalloon meanwhile has three releases planned for the next week: two over water and one over land, all deployed from MSV Tongjess.

Monthly Financial Report

You can see our July financial report here. Our profit from the month came solely thanks to the success of putting a kerbal into space and releasing the funds in escrow that served as a reward from the Kerbin World First Society. Now we have just enough money to fund our operations through the remainder of the year assuming we can continue to progress in our bid for orbit, as that will open the door to numerous contracts.

Of course we would be remiss to not thank our Patreon subscribers, who also help to pad our coffers with their grateful donations. Thank you! You’re also welcome to make an easy one-time donation via Ko-Fi.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,930 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 8/3/19

Still under a week of lead but hard to push it out when also have a good deal of operations going on and there were several things this week that slowed me up, and I haven’t even gotten around yet to doing the Ops Tracker databases for the two new flights announced this week.

Ascension flight analysis

Figuring out what the problem was with the rocket pitch took waaay longer than it should have because I’m an idiot and not only did I forget that the fins were pitched 5° to help it nose over I thought it was trying to nose over harder than it was because I confused the position of the elevator indicator. It was pinned in the up position and so I thought it was trying to lower the nose, when it was trying to raise it and unable to overcome the natural pitch over tendency from the fin angle. Kind of like how you pull back on the joystick to go up, when I’m not using a joystick I sometimes misread the controls from a “top down” perspective, as in the indicator moving up is the “push forward” that’s telling the rocket to nose down. Oy! I even spent hours trying to convince people in the kOS thread that it was a problem with the PID steering. Quite embarrassing.

Viklun ISP changes

So I’ve noted before that I upped the ISP on the Viklun engine because I wanted to make sure it was more efficient than my lifter engine. However the ISP I looked up in the VAB for my lifter engine was mistakenly the 2.5m version, so I ended up bumping it way higher than needed. I didn’t want to end up with too good of a vacuum engine right off the start so I decided to lower it again and explain it away as combustion losses. I did some light research and this is in fact a thing and something I can make note of and point out as an improvement for later engine designs. So that initial mistake actually worked into a nice bit of side plot

New test stands

I built the new test stands using the new Modular Launch Pads release that conveniently just landed. Although the stands have been available in the dev branch for a while now. They don’t cost anything themselves so I had to finagle the costs a bit. The horizontal stand is 240 funds in the game for just the concrete slab underneath it so I increased it to 2,400. The vertical stand with all its structural piece add ons came out to around 10,000 funds but tweakscale can inflate prices a lot so I brought it down a bit to around 8k so it would still be more expensive than the ~6k I paid for the original.

Getting it out to the R&D campus was a bit of a pain. The stands are meant to act as clamps so they are stuck into the ground when you launch them. I tried to use Hyperedit to move it after launch which nearly crashed the game and also tried VesselMover, which ended up breaking it apart somewhat into this state while re-entry heating sprung up around it:

Soooo then I decided to try and create a Kerbal Konstructs launch pad in the position where I wanted the stand to be. That took a little bit of work to figure out how to do – turns out you can’t just turn any static object into a launch site. Finally I found the stock mobile launch platform that I could clip into the ground with nothing tall to poke up. I crossed my fingers and hoped that having the pad underground so it wasn’t visible wouldn’t mess things up. Took a few tries to get the game to launch to that spot but made it okay. Bonus is that it was easy to make sure it was oriented in the proper direction. Then I just deleted the launch pad static. Now when I make any changes to the stand, all the position info is in the SFS file I can just copy over to the new stand and it pops up in the same place/orientation as the old one after I launch to the runway and edit the save file.

Basic 1.7.3 install

One of the things I did in my stupid pitch issue analysis was work up a basic KSP v1.7.3 install with Breaking Ground to make sure the rocket launched and flew the same way with all the latest mod versions. It did. But now I have the version installed and if I can continue to push ahead my lead by a decent margin I will look to jump over to it completely over the next few weeks. So far the only real issue I’ve had is that when attached over the parachute the LES tower on Ascension just wants to fall off and through the rocket when launched out onto the pad from the VAB. Okay. Don’t look forward to figuring that one out. No real rush to upgrade at all though, quite happy with v1.5.1 for my current needs.

Using career reputation

Other than for unlocking more advanced contracts, till now I haven’t really had any real use for reputation, but I’ve decided to factor that into contract costs for rocket missions. The cost of the (mission parts + resources) * ((reputation / 10) / 100) will determine how much profit is made from each contract mission. So my current rep is 316 meaning 31.6% of the total mission cost will be added to the contract price. I gain rep every time I make a successful recovery and also for completing contracts from other programs. I have my rep gain reduced to half in the game settings to make it a nice slow slog.

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