Nov 01 2019

Operations Summary – Week of 10/28/19

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KSC Resuming Operations Next Week

The radar installation was completed this week, tucked into a protective radome atop the hills to the west of KSC. This facility is tied to the Tracking Station and will allow us to monitor airspace all around the region to detect the approach of any aircraft and take appropriate actions. A special team nicknamed the Sky Watch is being trained to handle this task around the clock.

Having this radar installed also means we no longer need a tracking vessel offshore to maintain range vigilance during launches so this can be seen as a long-term investment. However, we did upgrade our recovery ship MSV Aldeny to handle this task so there is a bit of expense overlap here but it being mobile gives us additional options as well.

Everyone is eager to get back to work on campus next week, especially so we can begin to really look into how badly the launch pad was damaged and whether we will be able to launch any more Ascension rockets before the year is out.

Ascension Mk3 Full Design Spec Finalized

We mentioned briefly back in September some early design specifications for the upcoming Ascension Mk3 rocket and the Ascension team has added two more when finalizing their goals:

  • 1.25m TVC vacuum engine – based off the 0.625m Ospray engine used on the Progeny Mk7-A, enabling thrust vector control for steering while out of the atmosphere reduces the amount of stress that will be placed on the hydraulic system so we can work with a simpler design when scaling up to really understand the engineering requirements for larger atmospheric-based engines in the future. It will also hope to overcome the performance losses that the current Viklun engine suffers
  • Actuating guidance fins – to be tested on the Mk1 and implemented on the Mk2, these will continue to be used until TVC arrives for the lift engine. There could possibly be some additional improvements in the shape of the fins for better control and aerodynamics, along with the possibility of lighter materials
  • More powerful 1.25m lifter engine – engine contractors are itching to build some 2.5m engines but we still need to complete a full stack (fuel tank, interstage, coupling, etc) and manufacturing of these larger parts by engineering contractors is still under development. For now we’ll make do with a better design that offers increased performance
  • Multi-segment (reusable?) SRBs – set to be tested on the Progeny Mk7-B, the multi-segmented boosters will allow for longer burn duration to help carry heavier payloads higher into the atmosphere where the lift engine can run more efficiently. The first few will be recovered for post-flight analysis purposes but there’s also the possibility the booster casings can be re-used if they don’t show signs of cracks after flight.

The rocket blueprint should be released early next year and first flight is planned for mid-2020. This will be a direct successor to the Mk2 for orbital missions, Mun, Minmus and beyond. The Mk1 will likely remain active for sub-orbital flights.

Progeny Launches Rescheduled

The damage to the launch pad has no effect on the launch capability for the Progeny Mk6 since its launch base can be relocated, in this case out to the North Field about 1km from the pad past the runway. The build delay thanks to KSC’s evacuation however is what has pushed the launch timeline back. Thanks to the built-in delay between the first two and last two launches for the next Ascension mission, which now will most likely be scrubbed, the dates for the final two launches did not have to be moved back as far as the first two. Head over to the Ops Tracker to check out the new dates and times.

Alaba Remains on Course

After passing through Mun’s SOI for the 27th time this past weekend, Alaba swung back around to the night side of its orbit later in the week for new observations to be taken. The updated trajectory continues to hold true with the new predictions, although they were plotted only last month so large deviations are not expected to occur just yet. Still, other asteroids have been known to veer off significantly after just two encounters past a prediction so Alaba continuing on course is satisfying to astronomers, for now.

KerBalloon Continues Operations in the Kongo

Unaffected by the events that took place here at KSC, the high-altitude KerBalloon crew were able to successfully carry out a mission this week. They will remained stationed at the Kongo River base until we have reason to bring them back to KSC. The low-altitude crew will once again be able to tackle any contracts that come their way starting next week.

ATN Database

The latest update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 4,266 asteroids and 2 updated with new observation data. Here are the 47 asteroids that were discovered this past week.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman

Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff

Written on 10/27/19

Not much to say here for the events of this past week. I’m still well ahead and pulling further away, which is nice.

The radome facility is a part of the statics pack from Omega482 and it’s nice to finally get to use some of it. Looking through all the statics recently from that pack and also the newer KerbinSide statics has definitely given me some inspiration for future ideas.

Okay on that note actually I do have something to reveal, which I hinted at a few times in previous months maybe even a year or so ago I can’t recall. The aircraft attack on the launch pad was actually originally conceived of as a bombing of the VAB. The radicals were going to plant agents in the kerbs delivering fuel to the KSC and they would park the trucks in the VAB and blow them up to take down the building. This would have had a much more significant impact on KSA operations obviously but the main purpose of this event (other than introducing an antagonist) was to give an excuse to completely rebuild the VAB, which would be reconstructed as the Tier 2 building. If you upgrade from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in the game you will notice the actual position of the VAB changes noticeably, so you can’t just call it an “expansion” project. However now that there are several very nice static object buildings, when I outgrown the current VAB I can just simply build a new one elsewhere on campus and leave the original be. The only downside to these custom buildings is having no custom interior…

Also I have found it quite ironic how many more likes on twitter and upvotes on reddit the rocket sled video, all one second of it, got more than my Ascension Mk1 video of Commander Val’s mission. Despite the vast differences in length I do think I spent a bit more time on the rocket sled attempt than compiling the Mk1 mission footage so overall I’m happy the sled video was a bit of a hit and that I made the effort to get it done.

More cool stuff coming I can’t wait to show off too, don’t you worry…