Oct 25 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 10/21/19

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Investigation into Attack on KSC Continues

Other than the information we posted earlier this week, we have no new details on the investigation to share. We did update the post with the release of a video shortly afterwards which confirms the aircraft came in unpowered – if you watch closely when it is backlit from the explosion or slow the video on its approach you can see neither propeller spinning, locked to help prevent any noise. The pilot could have flown on a single engine as well to further reduce noise before shutting down the engine for a silent glide. The unpowered flight would have taken considerable flying skill compared to being under power with greater speed and more control, something the ASA is taking into consideration while trying to determine where the plane and pilot came from.

All four astronauts have undergone psychiatric evaluations in the wake of the attack to ascertain whether they remain fit for duty knowing that not only is the inherent danger of rocket and space flight a threat to kill them but now also some of their own kind. All of them, even Bob, were cleared and are more determined than ever to prove that space exploration is the future of the kerbal race.

The KSC will remain closed until the ground radar station is set up, which means public weekends will also be cancelled until further notice.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,219 asteroids and 0 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 10/14/19

Mk1 attack general overview

Ooh it feels so good to finally reach a point I’ve been working towards for years. Pulling together various sub-plots actually required me to do a bit of research into KSA’s past to make sure I got everything right and didn’t contradict myself in writing about events that happened last year or in 2017. I’ve kept my historical records well though and didn’t have any troubles. I look forward to seeing what kind of reactions these events elicit. Obviously a plane crashing into something is going to be rather jarring. I’ve purposefully not used the words “terrorist” or “terrorism” and I don’t plan to. I’m not trying to write some sort of allegory here, so don’t read too much into it in that respect please.

Okay moving on, one of the major aspects to this I didn’t think about early on was that this would happen at night. My original idea was to have the plane be spotted on approach so there’d be some back & forth dialogue with Launch Control and the capsule telling Jeb he’s in danger and he should eject. But knowing that would scrub his mission he would have a character moment, be reluctant as he wouldn’t be able to see the danger out his window and refuse until the plane hit and he was carried off by the LES automatically.

When I realized it was going to be at night it was obvious the approach would be done stealthily so no one would see it coming. I still wanted to write some suspenseful tweets immediately after so people wouldn’t know if Jeb was alive or not but in an emergency situation like that no one is going to be sitting at their console updating the public with every detail. There’s not all-out panic but everything is rushed and information is generally kept on a need to know basis, so I had to just stick to doing tweets recapping things after the fact, but still managed some “in the dark” storytelling by dragging things out for two days dropping breadcrumbs before finally posting the full story, which then brought greater context to tweets sent out earlier in the week.

I did consider the religious implications of the name “Jebediah” but chose not to appropriate it. I’ve been an atheist all my life actually so anytime I dip into the religious aspects of the story I’m doing a fair amount of research to hopefully not write anything that people would find offensive.

Having the high-altitude KB team in the Kongo to still be available for missions was actually not something I thought of in advance, I just wanted to have the opportunity to write something different in regard to the KerBalloon program in general. Sitting back after the attack and considering what else is going on around Kerbin I realized they could still function.

Was this actually supposed to happen in November? Yes, it actually was at one point. Changing up the Ascension launch schedule was a completely separate decision made solely on the actual real fact that I wasn’t confident in the ability of the Mk2 rocket to fly the intended ascent path and wanted to do some more testing with fully-actuating guidance fins. Although the attack was going to happen during Jeb’s mission (it actually at one point was going to be during the first kerbed mission attempt) it was never set in stone when that mission would be. So this is an example of how I plan out large plot points but do still allow for dynamic changes to the story.

Well, now the KSA has an antagonist at last. How much this will affect things has yet to be seen, even from my perspective. They could grow into a force that brings about militarization (BD Armory, anyone?) or just be a small thorn in the side of the kSA, causing trouble whenever I need to take a break or slow the pace. This was the last of my major (early) plot points from when I restarted this project, so there’s a lot of open territory in moving forward with the story from here.

I encourage anyone reading this to also consider making in-character comments and reactions and interact with the KSA twitter account. I’ve gotten new ideas for the story before from follower responses.

Attack video

First things first I placed the rocket out on the pad and used Kaboom to detonate the fuel tank and see if the LES would save the capsule using the same kOS code you can find in the AFCS repository. Boo yah, it worked perfectly. I was actually surprised. That made things easier since I didn’t have to resort to using the RadioGAGA proximity part from Smart Parts, which would have had the capsule pop off before the impact and I would have had to alter the story a bit for the plane to have been spotted on approach so the LES could be manually triggered ahead of impact. As mentioned I originally planned for that but once I realized it would be night I wanted the capsule to shoot off with the rocket exploding.

Since I knew it was going to take a few tries, the same camera issues as the rocket sled video would have applied and so I had to place a HullCam part out to point at the launch pad from the edge of the raised terrain. While it would have been easiest to use the cockpit view to fly the plane into the rocket, of course I can’t switch to the camera view using the +/- keys while inside the cockpit. Cause that would be too damn easy.

When taking photos of the pad at night, I always take a second photo with Ambient Light turned way up and then layer that under the original photo and use the eraser tool with a low hardness setting for a fuzzy circle to delete the top layer and expose the brighter layer underneath. This is how the launch pad flag looks like a light is shining on it. Well for the video I then had to place an actual light out there shining on the flag.

Speaking of ambient light, the video obviously had to be dark and there would be no time to adjust the brightness before switching over to the camera view which meant I had to adjust my own monitor settings to make it easier to see where I was flying since the aircraft had no lights on either and it was just the launch pad lit up in the darkness. I used Vessel Mover to place the aircraft in the air and drop it from there to attempt to glide in and impact the rocket.

Oh but I couldn’t move the aircraft too far from the rocket because that would “unpack” the vessel in the game, removing it from physics and also disabling the kOS processor that was running the code which was waiting for the fuel tank to be destroyed so the LES would be activated. I could have used kOS to also extend the range but managed to make do.

Thankfully it only took 6 attempts to get not only an impact I wanted but switching over to the camera view in time for a good shot of the impact. That annoying flickering can still be seen in the launch towers too unfortunately but it’s not too bad.

I’m not proud to admit that when it came to crewing the aircraft with a pilot so I could fly it… I chose Aldeny 😆

Fire photo

The fire itself was created by flipping a bunch of Skipper engines upside down, stacking them and then using the offset tool to spread them out on the ground. Then, with infinite propellant enabled, while they were running I opened their Smokescreen plume settings, disabled the white plume boundary effects and manually set the plumes themselves to behave as if they were in a vacuum. This meant they were no longer tall jets of flame but spread out and lower. Viewed from a distance it made a nice raging inferno.

The vehicles were from the vehicle pack of the Kerbin Shuttle Orbiter mod. I actually had to dig through some very old KSP install folders I still have (since I’m a pack rat) to find the craft files since they are for some reason no longer available in the mod thread.