Aug 30 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 8/26/19

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Latest Ascension Mission Successful Testing New Instruments

While we didn’t expect it to go perfect the mission this week did throw us some surprises that controllers had to overcome in the short time the rocket was up in space. The two main issues were the problems with data transmission and the unforeseen slow tumble taken by the rocket as it exited the atmosphere still under thrust. Both of these are still under investigation with the former not able to be fully looked into until the capsule returns next week so VAB workers can check the antenna. Although we save funds by putting the capsule on one of our regular supply shipments from Ockr, those shipments are scheduled independent of our operations so it can take a few days for the capsule to make it back to KSC sometimes.

Some good that came out of the mission however was that since the lift stage remained attached and the rocket was turning end-over-end we could calculate roughly when it would be pointing at Kerbin to take some photos – check the gallery above! Unfortunately since we had to store more science data than planned from not being able to transmit, there was only room for three pictures.

Over the next 2-3 weeks the Ascension team will analyze the mission and post the results of their findings.

Upcoming Mission Updates

This week we were finally able to share the plans for our first orbital probe, Kerbin I! Check the gallery to see the blueprint (hi-res version here). While we originally wanted something much heavier, closer to 2 tons, to both give us more power on orbit and push the Mk2 to its limits, ultimately Operations Director Drew Kerman made the executive decision to downscale the payload for more comfortable margins. We’ve been hoping to get to orbit since last year so we want to do our best to make sure we get there this time. The probe’s batteries should last 18-20 hours depending on usage and it can also hibernate to extend its time in space. Ultimately though the cold gas engine will be used to de-orbit it and send it crashing into the ground so we can test the durability of the RTG casing.

The next Ascension Mk1, Progeny Mk7-A and Ascension Mk2 are all being worked on in the VAB – look for a progress pic sometime next week. Lead Engineer Simon has reported that no serious build issues have cropped up to hinder the upcoming launch schedule.

In the gallery above you can see that progress continues for getting the Mobile Launch Platform constructed by the end of September. The last major parts, engines and treads, are being installed over the next 2 weeks.

KerBalloon Secures More Income

Another successful mission in the books for the low-altitude KerBalloon team. Mortimer is busy working on some more contract negotiations and hopes to have some new deals sealed for both high and low teams next week so we can continue to increase our income next month as well.

Vieras Completes 7th Mun Encounter

We’ve heard that new orbital data for Vieras is set to be published later today. It encountered Mun earlier this week exactly when predicted by the data from the previous encounter at the start of this month. Data from encounters in June both came up with the same incorrect prediction several seconds early, so noticeable drift occurred in less than two months. However, astronomers are also looking to take into consideration how much change the Kerbin-centric orbit undergoes each encounter as a possible factor and will continue to compile evidence.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,005 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 19 asteroids that were discovered this past week. No outer-system space objects were found – although there are vastly more out there than in the inner system they are also much harder to see.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 8/24/19

Yea, so like I said, no big deal getting this week banged out – only took me two days since I wrote my last Desk Notes. Of course I had half the week done already… I really like the new way I’m working because there’s never really any time for me to pause and get distracted by anything else. If I’m not doing something in the game, then I’m working on something outside the game related to KSA while I wait for the game to load. It’s very efficient and my current game day is 9/20 with operations written up to now but there’s a lot outlined for me to fill in over the next 2 weeks. Less thinking, more doing. Also holy crap 18 images in the gallery this past week is quite the output compared to what I’ve been managing so far this year.

Mk1 mission

Temps were pretty rough the past week or so, anything over 85 is tough to work in since I don’t have A/C. Well, I do have A/C but I’ve been at a friend’s house the past few months since getting kicked out of my old place and he hasn’t mentioned rent but there was mention of electric bills from A/C usage so to keep from having to pay anything I don’t use my A/C and just go downstairs when it gets too hot. I can’t do much work away from my desktop but with my iPad I can at least do some basic stuff. Now for this week and the next at least things have cooled off to mid-70s low 80’s and it’s glorious.

Other than the heat, the only major holdup for this mission were issues with Kerbalism and some new atmospheric logging code. It took 4 mission attempts to work out all the bugs integrating the new code into my logging system, and then when I finally got up into space I realized that when transmitting data there was no increase in EC usage. I flew the remainder of the mission and no other issues popped up so I put some time into figuring out what was going on, since I knew Kerbalism at one point had increased EC usage during data transmissions. Long story short, it was removed when N70 took over from the original author ShotgunNinja and recently was put back in with the latest release. However that release also came with a new science system I wasn’t ready to deal with yet. I’ve also discovered some more minor Kerbalism communications issues that I will have to address at some point.

Another minor trip-up came when I launched without any oxygen aboard and killed Jeb. Whatever, I had remote control and he was just there as a “test dummy” but after he died I could no longer do science experiments or activate SAS. D’oh! So I added a bit of oxygen to last him the mission without adding any serious mass discrepancy.

The mission delay had nothing to do with IRL stuff, I just wanted to make it known that recovery zone weather can be an issue. I honestly never thought about it until I read this story about Apollo 11. I probably should have mentioned it not being an issue for previous launches but oh well, it will just have to be assumed that it was never mentioned because it wasn’t ever an issue until now.

Also this was the first mission that I really had to conduct myself. The entire thing was not fully scripted and I had to actually send commands to the rocket in order for it to perform various actions and allow the mission to succeed. That was enjoyable, but also a bit stressful since if I messed up I would need to rerun the mission or work in a failure to the story.

Asteroid size comparison

Fortunately the A is smaller than the C so when the game loads the asteroid the default camera position is the same, which made things easy. I just took a photo right from load, which meant the camera was the same distance away and hence the scale was the same.

Yorshee artwork

I had a cool idea for the actual day of the kerbed space mission, but unfortunately Yorshee was not able to make the deadline and I had to retool things a bit to use one of two images I originally planned to have as a one-month anniversary marker. I would like to commission more for additional big milestones, and maybe I’ll also go for some minor ones if the reception of the image is good – as in I get a decent amount of new followers or hits from posting it. I’m going to keep my cool idea secret still and in my back pocket for another opportunity.