Oct 11 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 10/7/19

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Mobile Launch Platform Complete, New Payload for Ascension Mk1 Flight 11

After two months of assembly in the HAB the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) was finally completed this week. There were some minor issues with getting it started up and driven out of the building but eventually it made it to the launch pad, where it was checked for proper fit of its base and treads against the service towers. Everything checked out perfectly and it now awaits the Ascension Mk2’s debut flight at the end of this year.

Since we didn’t get as good a test of the RTG casing we had hoped for in the recent Progenitor Mk7-A mission, a new payload has been designed for the Mk1 flight in November following Captain Jeb’s mission later this month. It will use a 1.25m payload fairing system based off the proven 0.625m design from the Mk7-A mission to encase a similar upper-stage payload and crash it into Kerbin from an even higher altitude. See the image gallery for details.

A final bit of Ascension news is the latest K2-X engine delivery, which will be assigned to the November flight. This the the 2nd of 3 new engines due to be delivered this year.

Progenitor Focuses on Progeny Mk7-B Design

With this week’s release of the flight analysis report for the recent mission of the Mk7-A, the Progenitor program has decided to move on to the next iteration, which will primarily test a new multi-segment SRB based on the current 0.625m design. It will possibly also sport larger fins on the lower stage to help with steering during high dynamic pressure. The 3rd stage will remain 0.35m as that is the only way we can get it flying by the start of 2020. Therefore the B iteration will likely be just as short-lived as the A since we want to progress to a full 0.625m stack with the C iteration once the decision is made to either upscale the current Ospray liquid fuel engine or design a new 0.625m one. We’ll reveal more Mk7-B details in the coming months with a finalized design planned for December.

New Alaba Prediction Published

Although it was supposed to still have one more encounter left in the 5-encounter prediction made back in May, Alaba made a surprise entry into Mun’s SOI only days after its 4th predicted encounter invalidated the final predicted encounter in early November. Thankfully the reason for the missed encounter was a software algorithm error and the KSPTOT author is currently working on a better one to catch more edge cases and short SOI transits.

With its next encounter coming this weekend, astronomers have worked up a new long-term prediction (high-res version), this time going out 10 encounters to show that Alaba will remain in orbit through Q1 2020. In the time up to then it will reduce inclination almost 5° before increasing back to where it was at the beginning of the prediction. SMA will not vary all that much either. The largest change will be the radial motion of the entire orbit, which will bring its ascending node closer and closer to Mun’s SOI, potentially allowing it to encounter Mun twice in a single orbit as it is currently making all its SOI passes at the descending node.

Because of the double-encounter’s potential for large trajectory changes and knowing what effect that can have on long-term predictions thanks to our experience with Vieras, astronomers will wait until next March to look further ahead and hope until then all their current predictions come to pass accurately after doing extra work to check and ensure no SOI encounters were missed.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,171 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 17 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 10/11/19

Still have plenty of lead time, working to get my operations caught up to the game clock, which is holding at 3 months ahead. I have my New Year’s show booked for Ras Al Kamah in the UAE again this year so that will be about 2.5 weeks that I will lose but on the flipside the KSA historically doesn’t do much over the end of year holidays so pushing ahead my lead to account for my time away from home won’t be too much of an issue.

MLP driving?

When I place the MLP into the flight scene it doesn’t kraken out, so I’m pretty sure it could be driven if the treads were properly configured but I haven’t taken the time to bother. I don’t plan to make a rollout video so for now I can just use Vessel Mover to place it wherever I need it for photos. If I have the free time at some point, I will see if I can drive it around

Other than the MLP, not much this past week to discuss in any further depth. Things are just nice and routine lately. Oh, but don’t worry…. hold on to your butts. That’s all I’m going to say…