Tag Archive: Ascension

Oct 21 2020

Ascension Mk2 Flight 2 Analysis

Although the first orbital mission was eventually deemed a success for the payload, the Ascension Mk2 failed in its attempt to place the satellite it carried into a stable orbit. This brought the Ascension team back to the drawing board to improve the Viklun upper stage and make it more capable of maintaining attitude with its Reaction Control System cold gas thrusters. In the months since the first mission additional design work was also carried out for the next payload, dubbed Kerbin II and meant to test out technologies that would be used in the first line of communication satellites we are hoping to deploy in 2021. Once the Viklun stage improvements and payload design were finalized the rocket was assembled without issue in the VAB but the day before launch a problem occurred with installing the Radioisotope Thermal-electric Generator. The RTG was installed late in the launch preparation because the heat it outputs would compromise the fairings if left too long without thermal control, such as that provided by the crew access tower when the rocket is on the pad. Thankfully the problem was easy to overcome and the mission was only delayed to the following week.

The Flight

With no issues popping up during pre-flight the Mk2’s K2-X main engine lit up on time at T-3s under command of the AFCS, throttled at 10% power to check for good ignition. At T-0 after chamber pressures were confirmed to be nominal the 4 solid rocket boosters were ignited and their hold down bolts blown away to allow the rocket to begin its ascent with a combined force of 191kN to produce just over 1.6Gs acceleration. Immediately after launch all four of the rocket’s fins actuated to roll the rocket from 45° to 60° heading over about 6s before beginning to pitch over downrange. At the time pitch-over began the two horizontal fins nullified their ability to react to roll inputs so later in the flight at supersonic speeds control flutter would be kept to a minimum to reduce vibrations on the payload. By L+10s the SRBs had begun to taper off their thrust and the main engine throttle started to increase in order to maintain a TWR of 1.5.

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Oct 16 2020

Low-Altitude Science Survey 63

Releasing two balloons over Sector KD-T for Tiberdyne Aerospace this mission will take advantage of the orbiting Kerbin II to stay in communication & thus require less support to be taken along

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Oct 09 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 9/28 & 10/5/20

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Sep 25 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 9/14 & 9/21/20

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Sep 24 2020

Ascension Mk2 Flight 2 (Kerbin II)

Continued iteration leads us to attempting another orbital insertion with the Mk2, hoping to take the payload the full distance this time rather than leaving Kerbin II to fend for itself. Will the upgraded Viklun stage be able to handle it?

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Sep 11 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/31 & 9/7/20

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Sep 09 2020

Ascension Mk1 Flight 14 Analysis

Specialist Bob has had quite the long journey to get up into space. He was supposed to be the first to take the trip however the Monolith had other plans for our initial orbital attempt, which can be read about in more detail here. Nearly one year later his rotation finally came back around after first Bill then Val then Jeb all took turns flying up above the atmosphere. Always the one on the crew list with the most nerves, having 3 other kerbals return safely from space helped to put him at ease, although at the same time he couldn’t help but wonder if that meant he would be the one to not come back alive. Despite his anxiety, Bob got straight on board the rocket on launch day and retained his composure throughout the mission, despite the problems that were had.

The Flight

With no issues in the countdown, the ignition sequence began at T-6s to fire up the main engine and check chamber pressures as it throttled to launch thrust of 1.2 TWR. Clamp release was approved as the AFCS confirmed launch thrust and the rocket began its ascent, holding throttle steady until it had climbed over the towers. The rocket began to roll from 45° to launch heading of 54° but at L+6s the guidance computer decided that it was also supposed to be holding a 45° pitch angle and kicked the rocket hard over while still less than 500 meters over the ground. Needless to say this caused quite the commotion in launch control!

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Aug 28 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/17 & 8/24/20

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Aug 14 2020

Operations Summary – Weeks of 8/3 & 8/10/20

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Aug 05 2020

Ascension Mk1 Flight 13 Analysis

To continue to test science instruments the unkerbed Mk1-A capsule made its 4th flight up into space, adding data on to the studies began with a similar mission back in 2019. This time however the trajectory was tweaked to send the rocket higher and also carried Mystery Goo samples, the largest batch to date. Additional mission objectives included the technology demonstration of dish antenna for high-gain data transmission/reception and the capsule carrying internal shielding to help lower the amount of radiation that reaches the crew. The mission was scheduled to launch in the middle of the day cycle to ensure that the inner radiation belt was pushed closest to the surface by the kerbolar wind so the rocket’s trajectory would penetrate as deep as possible. No issues came up in the preparation for launch, the rocket was successfully rolled out to the pad and dish comms tested before being raised vertical for a wet dress rehearsal. The day of launch the rocket was lowered again for late onload of the Mystery Goo samples, as they are highly radioactive and would have presented a danger to pad crew during the rollout and WDR.

The Flight

Just prior to engine ignition the fins all swiveled through their full range of motion to test hydraulic pressure – if they fail to re-center before ignition time of T-6s then pressure is low. Engine ignition was permitted and the K2-X fired up without issue at 10% initial thrust to check chamber pressure for 3 seconds before throttling up to launch TWR of 1.2 (~75% throttle). Launch thrust was confirmed at T-0, allowing the engine clamps to release and enable the rocket to begin its journey up into space at 17:30:00.74 local time. Another 3 seconds into the flight the rocket climbed above the service towers and the engine was brought up to full power, producing 172kN of thrust.

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