Aug 23 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 8/19/19

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Mission Readiness On Schedule

The Ascension Mk1 that will be launching next week underwent final assembly this past week, being raised vertical for capsule integration and load checks before going back to horizontal for final close outs. It will be loaded up onto the carry vehicle on Monday for roll out to the launch pad. You can see it in the VAB in the image gallery above.

The Ascension Mk1 carrying Commander Valentina into space next month had its engine prepared this week after its static fire test the week before. It is now ready to be integrated with the lift stage fuel tank over the coming week while the flight capsule also goes through final preparations of getting all its external parts installed or in some cases refurbished – RCS, parachute, float collar, heat shield and LES. At the start of next month it will be ready for final integration as well.

The parts for the next Progeny Mk7-A mission’s third stage have begun to arrive with basic testing and assembly set to begin next week. The motors will all be delivered at the start of next month.

The Ascension Mk2 has not yet received much attention by the VAB crew other than to refurbish the Viklun orbital stage after its static pad fire, which originally was not planned to happen – months ago we said the stage would just be tested in flight since it wouldn’t be a danger up in space. However we are glad we took the time to test it on the ground just to ensure that the entire integrated stage functioned properly, not just the engine itself. Launch of the Mk2 is still scheduled for no sooner than early October.

Work in the HAB proceeds apace to get the Mobile Launch Platform assembled, as you can see in the gallery above. We expect to have the new Dhumla in for final assembly next month before the MLP is finished but plenty of room remains in there for both projects to continue side by side.

Sounding Rocket Program Funds Student Launches

Last active back in 2016-17 as the result of a bet won by Operations Director Drew Kerman, the Sounding Rocket Program has relaunched with a new objective of encouraging the next generation of space explorers. Partnering with universities and secondary schools in all 4 caverns, the program will provide funds to student teams in order for them to construct experiments that will fly into space in pairs aboard Progeny Mk6 Block I rockets. The experiment kits will be provided by Umbra Space Industries to give students an easy framework for them to build their projects. Submissions are already being accepted and as many as 12 will be chosen. The selection will occur in October and launches will begin in November. Good luck to all the participants!

Rocket Sled Sees First Booster Run

After some track adjustments to fix minor issues discovered during the test runs, this week the rocket sled was mated to its solid rocket booster and sent roaring down the track. The SRB powering the sled can put out 110kN of thrust before it starts to taper off, accelerating the sled to speeds of up to 260m/s (~Mach 0.75) before it burns out ~1.8km down the track a split second before hitting the water trap and coming to a slamming halt in the next 400m, experiencing up to 16Gs of deceleration. Another test run is scheduled for next week once the sled gets some repairs to its undercarriage and the water trap is adjusted to do less damage.

KerBalloon Income Continues

Although they returned this week, both the KerBalloon crews set out on a long sea voyage last week, covering over 2,800km. The trip began with dropping off the high-altitude crew and three Utility Task Vehicles on an island so that they would have several days to wait for good release conditions. Then MSV Tongjess took the  low-altitude crew to two release points before returning a few days later to pickup the high-altitude crew and sail back to port in Umbarg. No adverse weather conditions or issues with recovery were encountered.

The low-altitude crew already has another contract for next week but we lost the contract for a short-notice high-altitude release when the airship we chartered for the mission had to stay in its bay for maintenance. We failed to get a clear answer on what exactly was suddenly wrong with it and could not find any other available airships. CFO Mortimer has been grumbling about it lately, suspecting the airship Barons meddled in our affairs.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 3,986 asteroids and 4 updated with new observation data. Here are the 30 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/22/19

Been a while since I wrote a Desk Notes so close to publishing. It’s actually almost midnight so less than 24 hours from when this is going live. But it’s not all that bad – I mostly put this off for a few days while I worked on other things, so operations are written up to the L-0 for next week’s launch and my game progression is actually into the second week of Sept. So that’s actually a significant amount of work already done and besides this upcoming launch, which no surprise is presenting me with some issues, it won’t take long to push out ahead another week or so afterwards. So I’m not stressed out or anything.

Rocket sled

So the idea I had to make the sled move along the track was to offset wheels ahead of the sled when viewing it from the front and behind the sled when viewing it from behind. This would give me a short window where you would see just the sled before the wheels came into view. Main problem is that by the time the sled is moving fast, it is no longer centered on the runway and thus visibly off the track. I spent about 3 hours over a few days trying different things, like how I positioned the offset wheels, trying to use kOS to keep it steering straight, and even making minute adjustments with Precise Editor while RCS Build Aid was open to show the torque direction. I couldn’t get the sled to not run off the runway by the time it reached the end.

I barely got it to stay on long enough to get actual performance data I could quote, so a video is looking less and less likely. If I have time, I will still plug away at it. I could try upping the thrust output of the SRB so it moves faster sooner and just do like a quick 6s video, 3s of it racing towards the camera and 3s racing away. That should be enough time to keep it centered in each separate take.

KSA history review

I’m just about done reading through every single post I ever made here on the website for the KSA. The idea is to see if I missed any major plot holes or if any part of the story progression appeared muddled or if anything did not have good reference links. The idea is anything I post should be able to stand alone and direct people to relevant posts for more details. Ideally, anyone new to the program should only have to read Ops Summaries to be completely caught up on even some of the more nuanced plot lines. Although I’ve found a ton of small mistakes and oversights, nothing huge has presented itself other than how I mistook Bob & Bill in the beginning for who should have been more timid.