Sep 13 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 9/9/19

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KSA 3 Year Operational Anniversary

KERZZAHHH! Today we celebrate our “birthday”, when operational activity first began here at the KSC back in 2016. Of course the KSA itself was founded prior to that but things did not really get rolling until this day in September. We are now heading into our 4th year of operations and while things obviously haven’t gone as well as we would have liked over the last year we can definitely say that solid gains were made. We’ve put a kerbal into space, are about to put another kerbal into space, and are once again on the cusp of possibly making an orbital flight. Giving up the push for orbit was a tough decision but ultimately the right one and everyone is stoked about the potential of the Ascension Mk2 and all the infrastructure like the Mobile Launch Platform that will continue to support our growing (literally) rocket program.

We have no doubt that further trials and tribulations await us in the coming operational year. Already our KerBalloon program has suffered a serious setback (see below) and the Genesis program has not had a great year thanks to strong push back from the airship industry, not to mention the loss of a crew member. Ultimately however we shall continue to push on!

Ascension Mk1 Mission Readiness Complete

Commander Val’s ride up into space has been completed and made ready for roll out on Monday for pad checkouts and a wet dress rehearsal ahead of launch attempt on Tuesday. For our first kerbed mission back in July we had the rocket rollout the day of launch so the crew could be loaded and the rocket raised vertical without having to first bring it back down. However thanks to the Monolith interfering it turned out that we had to do that anyway and pad crews found that the process wasn’t as bad as they had feared it would be. So now we can do some extra checks ahead of launch day, upon which the rocket will be lowered for Val to board and then raised back up for launch.

A late change was made to next week’s ascent profile based on the flight analysis report published this week from the last Mk1 mission. The rocket will throttle up to full once passing 40km where we know it will not suffer from any extreme friction heating and this will allow it to burn out of fuel within the atmosphere and prevent any unbalanced thrust from taking over before the control surfaces lose authority. With the rocket’s fins only angled to 1° instead of 5° the mass unbalance is nearly negligible but mission planners want to attempt to fly as close to the planned trajectory as possible. While this change will make Val’s re-entry a bit rougher than planned, the first data from Dr. Murstap’s first rocket run has shown that she should be able to tolerate it okay.

The astronauts are both now in quarantine in the Astronaut Complex, receiving regular medical checkups both to ensure they are healthy and to get baseline data prior to the trip up into space so any effects of space flight can be determined upon return. Val remains primary crew with Jeb as her backup should she suddenly fall ill or is otherwise incapacitated prior to launch. Let’s space another kerbal!

Wait that didn’t come out right.

KerBalloon Suffers Serious UTV Accident

The KerBalloon program had contracts for two Utility Task Vehicle traversals this past week. The low-altitude crew performed a successful mission out to the northwest at the start of the week and upon returning the UTVs were outfitted with equipment for the high-altitude crew and sent back out to the southwest. There they had to climb the flank of a volcano to release their balloon near the summit (don’t ask us why they couldn’t just let it go from the ground, the scientists there insisted it was vital to their measurements). On the way up the lead vehicle attempted to climb a slope that turned out to be too steep and it took a tumble downwards. Unfortunately the vehicles were in a column and so the other two were also dislodged and all three fell a few hundred meters before rolling to a stop. Thankfully this isn’t the first time we’ve had UTVs involved in this kind of accident and since that disaster their frames have been reinforced and roll bars were installed. So all the crew walked away with minor injuries and one got a broken arm from the door caving inwards. The crew will be returned to Umbarg on a regular airship supply run tomorrow and we will have the UTVs hauled back by airship on Sunday to see if anything can be salvaged.

CFO Mortimer was of course not happy with the news of having to purchase new equipment and so far has not authorized any expenditure to do so. Until then, the KerBalloon program will see decreased profit from having to charter airships to get around.

Vieras 1 Year Discovery Anniversary and 8th Mun Encounter

This week Vieras passed one year in orbit (slightly more actually since it was discovered after already being captured) and since we found it the small moonlet has orbited Kerbin over 90 times and traveled nearly 10,000,000km! It also encountered Mun for its 8th recorded SOI pass earlier today and skimmed past the surface at only 353km, the closest pass yet. This has had a significant effect on its orbit and astronomers are taking their time to ensure they have the new trajectory plotted correctly after taking post-encounter observations. An update should be available this weekend.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,057 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 14 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 9/4/19

Chugging along, one week since my last desk notes, not bad considering the Labor Day holiday weekend had me away from the computer more often than not. I have tweets written a few more days out to the upcoming launch day and the game clock has been progressed all the way to the end of October – which is more complicated than it sounds since every day I need to track asteroids and update six separate SFS save files. So that’s still a good deal of work out of the way even though my lead time for public-facing content is only just under two weeks.

That ignition failure last week for the K2-X engine which was fixed this week was mostly inspired by the failed ignition of the SpaceX hopper, since I happened to tune in to the feed just seconds before engine start and was like “awwwwwww” 😛

Also I tweeted about the rocket sled image that almost made it out with a layering issue before I caught it on one last check-over, well I also nearly screwed up this VAB image for two reasons. The first was kind of like the Game of Thrones coffee cup in that on the right side of the image there was a thin vertical strip of GUI window that I had left visible and somehow never noticed. Luckily I still had the original layers in my Recycle Bin so I only had to paint out some of it. The bigger mistake was I had an engine attached to the Mk2 lift stage off to the left and that engine was supposed to be coming back to the VAB from the test stand. I literally wrote that tweet and smacked my forehead. Luckily I had the exposed tank from the Mk1 lifter and was able to copy that over to the engine, paint out the engine and paint out the decoupler over the tank so just the bare ass was showing. Here is what the original image looked like with both goofs: