Aug 16 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 8/12/19

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New Progeny Mk7-A Mission Tests Future Ascension Tech

When a new Progeny Mk7-A mission would come around, no one really knew. Despite the large purse we were awarded with for putting a kerbal into space, funds remain tight and any missions with the Mk7 series rockets are going to remain total losses as we test out new technologies outside of contracts. Of course, testing new technologies is what we need to do in order to move forward and with that in mind CFO Mortimer managed to squeeze out some room in the budget so we can get a small-scale test run of the new payload fairings, which will replace the usual nose cone packed parachute. The payload for the mission will be an RTG casing, minus the radioactive material. Instead it will carry the radio equipment and standard batteries and will detach from the payload truss to re-enter by itself. Before we fly radioactive material into space, we want to make sure that in the event of a disaster it returns to the planet without breaking open and contaminating the surface or worse, the sea.

The mission will also fly a gentler trajectory similar to Mk6 rockets, allowing the rocket to climb into the upper atmosphere before the second stage with its guidance fins is dropped for the Ospray engine to ignite and hopefully keep the rocket on course with its engine gimbal. If the rocket makes it to space the onboard reaction wheel system will also get to be tested out, with the upper probe section able to be detached from the fuel tanks if not enough torque is available to maneuver. Nothing from the flight will be recovered except the RTG casing. Hopefully. The Ops Tracker has a visual on the rocket design, launch is currently scheduled for 9/26 @ 17:25 UTC.

Ascension Mission Readiness Progressing on Schedule

The rocket for the mission at the end of this month has all its major parts in the VAB – capsule, fuel tank and engine. Each is undergoing its own work before being integrated next week, stacked vertical for final checks. There was a minor issue with one of the instruments – the magnetometer boom was too large to fit into the capsule when it arrived in the VAB for integration. Lead Engineer Simon blames Head of R&D Wernher von Kerman for telling him the wrong dimensions and Wernher insists he told him the right ones. Whatever the case, the instrument’s slim profile when folded has allowed it to be mounted externally on the fuel tank and mission planners were made aware of the need for a gentle ascent to make sure it stays mounted.

The engine that will power the next kerbed rocket into space was static fired this week and showed good performance. Originally earmarked for the Mk2 mission, we will be receiving the first of our new engine order in time for that mission come October. The astronaut crew have all thrown themselves into training for the upcoming mission in Sept.

Construction on the Mobile Launch Platform in the HAB continues apace, with no major issues reported as the 4 massive tread blocks the main deck rests upon have been mounted and are being made ready for transmission components to be installed next.

Mission planners are still working on all three mission profiles with the upcoming Mk1 missions both under final review and the Mk2 mission still in early planning.

2-Year Tree Pollen Study Concludes Data Collection

This week Captain Jebediah set aside his Ascension mission training briefly to fly a mission for the Genesis program, taking a Civvie out west over the Grasslands for air sampling. This was the final mission in a 2-year series of flights around the region to collect pollen level data that scientists will spend the rest of the year analyzing to put together a report that will help improve the health of kerbals living on the surface. High levels of pollen in the air can lead to respiratory illness, as demonstrated by this event back in 2017. With a better understanding of the pollen cycle, measures can be taken in advance to stave off any ill effects.

In related news Genesis has announced they will not be hiring any new pilots for the foreseeable future. When we lost commercial contract exclusivity due to the C7/Airship fiasco, private pilots were able to begin freelancing directly for various agencies and effectively cutting us out. Jeb and Val have agreed to make themselves available when needed for missions internal to the KSA.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,956 asteroids and 1 updated with new observation data. Here are the 26 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/8/19

Triple unsync

Okay I’ve been trying something new and it’s been working out pretty well so far but geez is it a bit of a head trip. I no longer lock my in-game days to my operational days to my real days. In other words the game date is currently 8/25, I’m working right now on the operational stuff (tweets/images/planning/actual in-game missions) for 8/16 but the day is really 8/8. When I need to run some ops at an earlier date, I just adjust the UT in the file, save it separately and then merge any changes. This hasn’t messed me up badly yet, and I’m working to make sure it doesn’t and so far so good. Essentially I’m making sure there is absolutely no downtime when I’m working. I’m not waiting on anything to do be able to do something. It’s definitely more efficient but again, I just hope it doesn’t get me into trouble as things gets more stretched out between game/op/real. What day is it again?

Mk2 planning

Giving lots of feedback to the KSPTOT author as I work through this mission. The planning is more complex due to the solid boosters and I’m finding the challenge of modeling it to be quite enjoyable. I could probably make it easier on myself by letting the Launch Vehicle Designer’s optimizer work for me on the ascent profile but doing it in a more manual manner, while time-consuming, really lets me see what changes have what affect to get to better understand how to fly rockets up into space.

Mk7-A mission

I really shouldn’t have made it seem like this wasn’t going to happen again anytime soon at the end of the first flight’s analysis report. At the time I was truthfully thinking to myself it wouldn’t because I really do need to focus funds on Ascension and I totally forgot that part of the new direction for the Progenitor program was to provide small-scale & cheaper testing for future Ascension tech, so of course there had to be more launches. The original plan was to launch this in between the Mk1s but I realized that wouldn’t make a lot of logistical sense. The Mk1 is a big rocket and one of the missions will be kerbed which requires even more attention so putting a launch in between them doesn’t really make sense when all attention should instead be focused on the two larger missions. Yet at the same time the Mk7-A can totally be built in the VAB alongside both bigger rockets so it should be ready to go soon after the kerbed mission in Sept.

Break from flying

This was not really intended – again the whole Dhumla accident was not something I planned in advance, it was just a result of my own mistakes – but it did end up working out pretty well story-wise to get the Genesis program to where it is now, unable to really land any missions to do. I really enjoy flying in KSP – it’s the one time I can break out my HOTAS even – but it’s also very time-consuming and I’d rather focus now on pushing my lead back out to 3 weeks or even 3 months and also getting the orbital features of the Ops Tracker up and running in time for the Mk2 mission. Anyways, sad to take a break from flying but glad I am able to do so with a good plot reason that’s actually pretty complex, tying in the Dhumla crash and the C7/Airship problems from even earlier this year, rather than just the excuse that Jeb & Val are too busy with Ascension stuff.

Rocket sled

The image of the cars pulling the sled was something I thought about doing when I wrote the first tweets about it earlier this month but I didn’t think it was doable with the cabling. Then I remembered the new stuff in Kerbal Attachment System and figured I’d give it a shot and it worked out just fine.

I also don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up but I may have come up with a way to get video of the sled running along the track. I haven’t tested it yet but win or fail I’ll let everyone in on the idea once I do.