Tag Archive: radiation mission

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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Jul 15 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block II Flight 3 Analysis

Although we did not expect to fly the Mk6 Block II again, Bluedog Design Bureau and DMagic Orbital Sciences joined together to fund another mission to explore the radiation belts – this time on the night side of the planet. We know from past Mk6 Block I flights that the belts are blown into an extended elliptical shape by the kerbolar wind however we’ve never been able to explore the outer belt with the Block I. The Block II had the potential to not only reach it but travel all the way through and reveal the full extent of both belts. It was also equipped with the new hemispherical ion trap instrument for additional readings of the belt environment.

The Flight

After first being bumped a few days due to a delay of the Progeny Mk7-A debut launch scheduled prior to this one and then delayed further thanks to a bad decoupler between the first and second stages, the rocket flew its mission on July 9th, lifting off on schedule at precisely 12:30:00.08 local time. The ascent was nominal when compared to past Block II launches, with a clean radial booster drop and core booster separations leading up to the final boost of the liquid-fueled engine. As the rocket exited the atmosphere, it did something new for a Block II and dumped the upper payload fairings to expose the ion trap instrument to space, which managed to affect the rocket’s ascent angle and push its final apokee out to a whopping 4.3Mm!

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May 20 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 11 Analysis

While there are several instruments that still await testing for our future Extremis probes (and other Kerbin orbital missions) one of them, the hemispherical ion trap, is small enough to fit on the payload truss of a Mk6. Originally designed to study charged particles from the kerbolar wind, similar charged particles (also from the wind) are trapped inside the radiation belts that surround our planet. With ample experience in exploring the inner radiation belt, the Progenitor team was able to put together a mission that launched last week which would allow for the instrument to be exposed directly to space and gather data that could be used to not only further study the environment inside the belt but better tweak the instrument for use during deep space exploration.

The Flight

No delays led to an on-time launch, followed by a nominal ascent. The rocket’s center of mass was shifted ever so slightly to the rear since the truss carrying the extra batteries and the truss carrying the payload were switched from their normal positions. This did not have any adverse affect on the rocket’s flight. All stages were separated without issue and during the final burn, after passing 45km, the top fairing halves were jettisoned to expose the test instrument – this is the first time we have detached a payload fairing while under powered flight and it did not quite go as planned.

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Feb 06 2019

Progeny Mk6 Block II Flight 2 Analysis

Ever since the Block I outperformed all expectations and flew into the region of space we expected to use the Block II to reach, this rocket hasn’t been able to find a good use in our launch lineup which is why this is only the second launch since it was first conceived back in late 2017. The mission however was well-suited to our most powerful rocket to date, which was to go as far out into space as possible to gather new radiation data and look for a second radiation belt. In addition to building on the previous radiation discoveries, an additional mission goal was to test new hibernation technology to extend the vessel’s battery life long enough to last a mission that could take several hours.

The Flight

The rocket had a clean launch, leaving the mounting base without impacting the support rail while firing on all 5 solid rocket motors for a total initial thrust output of 214kN, producing just over 6Gs of force to keep it pointed downrange as the nose began to lower and the fixed fin angles began to spin the rocket up. The main difference between the Block II and Block I are the 4 radial boosters that accelerate the larger and heavier Block II rocket up to speeds comparable to a Block I. They burn from 5-6 seconds before being discarded. During the first flight, the booster separation led to an impact with two of the large lower fins thanks to the decouplers throwing them away with enough force to remain lateral to the rocket. The solution was simply to let them drop away on their own by force of the rocket’s speed and spin. All four boosters made a clean separation although the rocket exhaust did scatter them and actually flung one back far enough to impact the Ascension service towers! Thankfully no major damage was done.

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Jul 25 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 6 Analysis

Another flight was put together to further explore the properties of the hazardous radiation region found above our planet. All previous launches had occurred sometime during the daylight hours while this flight was scheduled to occur during the middle of the night. Scientists had several theories regarding why the radiation data from this sub-orbital trajectory would be different, but we will address them in a later report once they have finished working through the new data as well as the old. Here we will focus solely on the performance of the rocket during the mission.

The Flight

No delays led up to an on time launch last Friday at precisely 16:51:00.04 local time when the lower 0.625m solid fuel booster lit off to push the rocket off the launch base. Ascent through to booster engine cutoff for the third stage liquid fuel engine was nominal compared to past launches, showing no significant deviation from event times or in the rocket’s angle of attack while spinning to stay stabilized. The rocket entered space 1m28s after launch, just 10ms after BECO. It maintained proper orientation throughout the 9 minute climb to 522.368km apokee and all the way back down to atmospheric interface at L+19m56s.

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Jun 28 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block II Flight 1 Analysis

Since it was first announced back in October of 2017 (then designated the Mk5) the Block II has never been called upon for a mission due to the Block I out-performing all expectations and delivering payloads to the region of space above 250km that the Block II was originally designed for. After months of using Block I rockets to explore the hazardous radiation region above the planet, the need for higher flights has finally allowed the Block II the chance to prove its worth. The first mission was launched last week and once again the Progenitor team was blown away by the results.

The Flight

With no issues leading up to launch, the rocket lit off all 5 of its first stage solid rocket engines and left the launch base in a pillar of fire at 12:03:00.04 local time. This produced an initial combined force of 6.2Gs which, coupled with the added weight near the nose of extra batteries for the longer flight, prevented the greater length of the rocket compared to the Block I from creating too much drag at the nose and flip over to the west. In fact, the rocket immediately began to pitch downwards upon leaving the launch base, dropping from 85° launch position to 80° in the first 5 seconds. By this point the radial boosters had done their job aiding the center core booster in overcoming the additional 129kg of fuel and parts (not to mention the weight of the boosters themselves) added to the rocket design in the Block II. They separated, however two of the boosters caught the fins of the lower stage as the rocket began to spin up. Thankfully this did not have a hugely adverse effect on the ascent.

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May 31 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 5 Analysis

After sending 4 rockets on southward trajectories to see if we could find an end to the hazardous radiation region discovered ~350km above the planet, the final flight in that series recorded no radiation increase above the baseline 0.01rad/hr found outside the atmosphere. To determine whether the same could be said north of the equator, this flight sent up earlier in the week was planned to mirror the third launch of the Mk6 Block I that found an increase, but not to peak levels of 10rad/hr. If we could record similar measurements on this flight, we could determine the field is fairly uniform around the equator, otherwise we could find significantly more or less to tell us the field is asymmetrical.

The Flight

Because the rocket needed to launch northwards, the launch base had to be moved out into the field north of the runway so the rocket would not risk damaging the new service towers constructed on the launch pad for Ascension rockets. This presented some issues that slightly delayed the launch as cables run out that far to carry power and data were not able to handle the distance initially, and relays/repeaters had to be installed. Although we’ve had rockets launch from this area before, the power requirements of the Progeny Mk2.1 were much less and no data was needed other than a simple electrical signal to trigger the launch.

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May 11 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 4 Analysis

The final launch in our latest campaign has been to space and back. This ends our initial exploration of the hazardous radiation zone discovered above the planet, a report on which will be published separately after more data collection and analysis from future Progeny launches. We’ll cover that at the end as usual, for now let’s take a look at this recent flight in detail.

The Flight

Once again the only major change to the ascent profile of the rocket was to launch even further to the south, lifting off from the launch base at precisely 09:02:00.06 local time to head 150° SSE after a delay due to cloud cover. 67.2kN of thrust from the lower 0.625m booster pushed the rocket at 4Gs and climbed to 68.9kN before beginning to taper off after just 3 seconds to ensure the rocket did not speed through MaxQ too fast, topping out with a dynamic pressure of 77.104kPa passing through 5km traveling at 550m/s at L+18s. Staging occurred at L+35s, 14.9km ASL, after the lower booster expired and was pushed away by the decoupler, its fins shredding via det-cord 1 second later to spoil its lift and send it crashing downrange into the Kerblantic .

Coasting for 7.62 seconds before the nose fell 1.5°, the AFCS kicked off the second stage booster at 18.5km to boost at 14.7kN with a TWR of 3.1. Trajectory remained stable throughout the burn until the booster expired at L+54s, when the stage was dumped and the third booster ignited one second later at full thrust to continue the push for space.

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May 04 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 3 Analysis

In our continued quest to explore the region of high radiation found above our planet the third launch of the Progeny Mk6 Block I was carried out earlier this week.

The Flight

The initial launch time of 18:18 UTC was missed due to wind shear in the upper atmosphere that would have hit the rocket during its unpowered coast stage after dropping the first booster. A second weather balloon was sent up and returned nominal wind readings for a launch at 19:35 UTC. The rocket flew off the pad heading 135° ESE with an initial force of 67.2kN for 4Gs of acceleration to prevent drag at the nose from flipping the rocket over during this early flight phase. After only three seconds the lower 0.625m booster had reached its maximum thrust output of 68.9kN before beginning to fall off and prevent the rocket from exceeding 80kPa of dynamic pressure. At L+17.9 seconds the rocket reached a MaxQ of 76.318kPa at an altitude of 4.958km ASL as the lower booster continued to tail off thrust until flame-out at L+33.7 seconds. Now at 14.070km the Automated Flight Control System staged the booster after one second, cleanly pushing it away so when its fins were exploded a second later the debris did not damage the rocket, which continued to coast upwards for another 6.9 seconds before the nose fell 1.5° and the second stage booster was ignited at 18.601km.

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May 01 2018

Progeny Mk6 Block I Flight 2 Analysis

Prevented from launching for over two months due to legal and political wrangling the second flight of the Progeny Mk6 was finally able to head up into space and also successfully made it back to the surface intact for recovery thanks to some new tech that reached maturity during the delay. This was the third launch in a series of flights designed to probe out the region of hazardous radiation originally detected above the planet by earlier Progeny Mk5 flights. We have theories on what might be up there, but only hard data will tell us what exists. Thanks to the success of this flight we are a step closer to knowing, with two more planned to hopefully cinch our initial understanding.

The Flight

Despite the long break between launches regular drills kept everyone ready to resume operations and no troubles arose during the operations leading up to the launch, which occurred on schedule after high surface winds earlier in the day died down to acceptable levels. The Automated Flight Control System fired off the first stage 0.625m booster at precisely 13:58:00.05 local time, which pushed the rocket off the launch base with an initial thrust of 67.2kN for 4Gs of acceleration on a heading of 120°. This force was enough to keep drag at the nose from pitching up the rocket any more than 1.5° before the fins began to spin up and stabilize the remainder of the flight. The lower booster’s thrust peaked at 68.9kN just 3.6 seconds into the flight before the solid fuel core design began a thrust reduction to keep the vehicle’s speed under control as it passed through MaxQ at L+17.9 seconds traveling at 504.53m/s with a dynamic pressure of 77.987kPa. The first stage burned out after 33.67 seconds of powered flight and separated cleanly one second later. A second after that the fins were shredded with explosives to spoil the booster’s aerodynamics and send it plummeting towards the Kerblantic, where it impacted 19km downrange at L+3m9s.

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