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About KSK

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  1. KSK

    Dissolving the fermi paradoxon

    Bacteria are incredibly diverse and adaptable. If there's a source of chemical energy to be exploited somewhere, I'd bet that there's a species of bacteria that has evolved to exploit it. Likewise, bacteria can and do live almost anywhere including habitats that were previously assumed to be too extreme for any sort of life to exist. Do a quick internet search for 'extremophile' some time - it's pretty amazing how hardy bacteria can be. And bacteria demonstrably do evolve. Unfortunately for us humans, they're evolving resistance to most of the nice antibiotic drugs we've gotten so used to. Actually, they've evolved that resistance impressively quickly. According to Wikipedia, the first antimicrobial drugs hit the market around 1911. Fast-forward a hundred years or so (and several generations of drug) later, and we're finding bacteria that have evolved resistance to pretty much all of them. And on evolutionary timescales, a hundred years is no more than a blink of an eye.
  2. KSK

    Logical tech tree

    @MajorTomtom - it depends what you want the tech tree to do. Do you want it to act as a tutorial of sorts as @Rocket In My Pocket mentioned? Do you want it to provide a sort-of-realistic historical progression for your career game? Do you want it to provide strategic gameplay choices for your career game? I would argue that catering to any one of those options would give you a very different tech tree - and provoke reams of forum debate (I'll be polite here) from players who feel that their particular play style isn't being catered to. The stock tech tree avoids that problem by being a messy compromise that tries to be all things to all players.
  3. KSK

    Revelations of the Kraken (Chapter 25: Relics)

    Yeah, that was spot on. Loved the AutoWay sequence - I've said it before but I'll say it again - you do near-future technology so well. Little bit of relationship comedy to lighten the mood and then rounding off with a distinctly less-than-comic look at the relics of the past... and portents of things to come. Whoahh. But Burdous Kerman in... No, this we do not speak of.
  4. KSK

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    @tater has covered this point a couple of times I think. The point isn’t so much to re-fly within 24 hours but to have your engineers working on the next job within 24 hours. Just remember that this will need to be tested on the Moon first. #ItWorksInKSP
  5. KSK

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    True - but I think @StarStreak2109's point was that there's more to a Mars trip than a spaceship (or even a spaceship + refueling infrastructure). Even for a flags-and-footprints mission, there's a fair amount of equipment that you'd need to pack into that spaceship - ergo, plenty of opportunities to source that equipment from as far afield as is politically expedient. The problem is that the big-ticket items are still the spaceships (in publicity if not financial terms), and the states that historically make the most noise about this sort of thing, are all old rocket-building states. I've also read that there's a substantial faction within NASA that still sees Shuttle-derived heavy lift (aka SLS), as the way forward anyway (irrespective of any political considerations), so getting NASA to align with SpaceX may not be that straightforward. It's a shame - goodness knows that NASA would be well placed to do the basic R&D and procurement required to develop all the spaceship cargo I mentioned earlier. Doing the never-been-done before, pushing-the-boundaries-of-human-exploration, stuff is what NASA excel at - heck it's what they were set up to do. Turning them loose on the stuff that's needed to survive and thrive on Mars, whilst having SpaceX (or another commercial company if one came forward) build the taxi to get people there, sounds like an ideal match to me - I'm totally in agreement with the spirit of @StarStreak2109's comment, I'm just pessimistic about it happening.
  6. KSK

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    The article touched on this obliquely. Currently, there's potential competition between NASA's Mars plans and SpaceX's. Something of a paper competition admittedly since, with the odd exception, that's mostly where any Mars hardware is right now. However, as we've seen with the F9 human-rating process, there's a bit of a culture gap between SpaceX and NASA, and that's with certifying comparatively tried and tested hardware to a known and understood destination. Flying BFR to Mars is most definitely not tried or tested, on either count. If a Mars trip does start to look like a reality, you can bet that there's going to be an almighty lot of political, governmental and organisational wrangling about oversight, certification and authority. On that note, I find it encouraging that NASA is being invited to these sort of meetings still. @CatastrophicFailure - yes they have the technical experience but I would say that getting them on board politically is even more important.
  7. KSK

    Making a Dollar or Two- BOOK TWO

    Don't do that to me! Everyone knows that that's a prompt for everything to go wrong. Nice chapter though. Two new kerbonauts going to space today!
  8. KSK

    I'm joining the Squad Team!!!

    I trust you received the oft-promised cookies? Congratulations on the appointment @Just Jim - couldn't have gone to a nicer guy! Waiting for a brain pod Easter Egg somewhere. Maybe stashed in a corner of the Tier 1 VAB - and then mysteriously vanishes when you upgrade...
  9. Laying the Keel Bill pulled into the sole reserved parking bay in front of the White Cross Company head office and switched off the motor. Lodan retrieved his briefcase from the passenger footwell and climbed out of the car, closing the door behind him. He looked around the modestly sized parking lot, taking in the handful of cars scattered amongst the double row of tik-tiks and sighing inwardly at the collection of kerbonaut plushies perched on handlebars or dangling from rear view mirrors. Bill locked his car with the click of a button on his key fob and glanced across the road. Lodan followed his gaze, his eyes narrowing as he took in the larger, and conspicuously empty, parking lot. “It’s unusually quiet for the time of day.” Bill’s voice was level, only the sudden tightness along his jaw giving him away. “We’re still on double shifts, Director. It’s going to be a quiet meeting too, I’m afraid.” Lodan frowned. “More requisitioning?” “Yes. It seems we’ve finally drawn the attention of somebody in the border security forces. Camrie managed to cover for last week’s…diversions of our regular deliveries but this week has only been worse. We’ve been running supplies to emergency barracks and field hospitals. Military only naturally - we must prioritise after all.” The veiled anger in Bill’s tone told Lodan all he needed to know. “The relief efforts?” “Not a bean nor a rotten cabbage, Director.” Bill’s voice shook. “Our quality control network is quite definite about that. Nothing for the refugee centres - not a single truck.” He banged the office door open, gesturing curtly for Lodan to lead the way. Keeping his features composed with an effort, Lodan crossed the deserted reception area and walked through into the office proper before waiting for Bill to join him. “Perhaps we should do something about that,” he offered quietly. Bill shook his head. “Not if we want to see any hardware in orbit this side of the next Minmus eclipse, Director. That’s the worst part.” “Yes, it would be.” Lodan sighed. “I presume we’re meeting in the end room?” “We are.” Bill stalked past the double row of empty office cubicles and busied himself with the coffee pot standing on its table in one corner of the communal area. Lodan followed him at a discreet distance and took his place at the meeting table. He studied the trophy wall, eyes sliding over the elaborately detailed cardboard cutout depicting the Starseed bridge module and focusing on the neighbouring hub module framework and its attendant cloud of other cardboard components. A drawn-out, throat-clearing noise broke his reverie. Bill brought the steaming pot over to the table and poured Lodan a cup, just as Camrie entered the room and sat down with a thump. “Good afternoon, Director. Sorry I’m late.” She poured herself a coffee and took a long drink. “We’re short handed today - Jeb and Gene send their apologies - the Kerbodyne negotiations took longer than they hoped for and they’re still on the road. Bob and Ribory are out at Foxham but Seelan agreed to stand in for them.” “Figured my boys could fill up a swimming pool without me watching over them.” A dour-faced Seelan sat down opposite Bill. “I’m sure we can manage,” Lodan said calmly. “I’ll brief Geneney myself and he can update Jeb.” He gestured at the trophy wall and out of the corner of his eye saw Bill add a third sugar to his coffee. “As for Ribory and Bob, their immediate tasks are clear.” He bent down and snapped open his briefcase, taking out a legal pad and a pen. “Let’s get started. Bill?” Bill bowed his head then straightened up. “The first bridge module passed all its flight-qualification tests and final checkout and preparations for launch are almost complete. If all goes to schedule, the module will be mated to the booster by the end of this week, with the first launch attempt set for the following week. The hub module redesign has been approved and now includes separate mounting points for the inflatables and their supporting trusses. However, diverting resources to the redesign has meant that construction work on the second bridge module is progressing more slowly than anticipated, although Bob’s team and Ribory’s team have both been working around the clock to get things back on track.” Lodan made a note on his pad. “How far along is the second bridge module?” “Welding on the main pressure hull and forward gangway is finished,” said Bill. “Work on the primary structures for airlock, docking adaptors, and observation ring is underway.” Seelan frowned. “All hands to the pump just to get the first couple of prototype modules built? We need to speed this up.” “We do,” agreed Lodan, “but not by having everyone working around the clock, all the days of the week. As Probodyne found out to their cost, that’s a highly efficient way of guaranteeing an accident.” He glanced across the table. “As I’m sure Bill will recall.” Camrie rubbed her eyes. “Having Kerbodyne on board should help a lot. Steadler are still being cagey but Gene thinks they’re coming round and Jeb’s asked Shervin to have a quiet word with their CEO.” She saw Lodan’s raised eyebrow. “He and Gene persuaded Shervin and Halnie to visit Guardian Elton.” “Ahh.” Lodan made another note. “I imagine we can count on Stratus’s continued support then. And I concur - any assistance that Kerbodyne can lend will be most helpful, not to mention Steadler. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I would speak to them myself but Keller can be stubborn under pressure. Under the circumstances, I think Shervin’s efforts will be more persuasive." Lodan put his pen down. "In the meantime, what does the White Cross Company need from me?" "Better communications," Camrie replied instantly. She pointed at a map of Kolus on the wall which was decorated with sunburst arrangements of pins and thread, the centre pin of each sunburst connected to Barkton by thread of a different colour. "Setting up local head offices helped to smooth out and coordinate our efforts across Kolus but now that we're expanding into Wakira and starting to think about expanding into Veiid..." Camrie held up her hands. "I'm used to working on a shoestring, Director. Kerm only knows that I've been with the KIS for long enough. But lending aid to a trans-Regionality network of supply chains is stretching that shoestring dangerously close to snapping. If we could just..." To her surprise, she saw a faint smile cross Lodan's lips. "Access the KSA Spacecraft Tracking Network? I think that is an eminently sensible suggestion." Camrie opened her mouth, then closed it as Lodan continued. "We have limited assets in Veiid, as I think you know, but excellent links to Wakira due, in no small part, to both the KSA and Rockomax starting their own tracking networks there." A thoughtful look crossed his face, before he shook his head. "Additional kerbosynchronous satellites over Veiid would be helpful but I can’t see an immediately obvious way of commissioning them without drawing undue attention from the Finance Committee.” Lodan regarded Camrie over the rim of his mug. “I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I believe that discreet use of the repairs and maintenance budget should be sufficient to cover any minor updates required for you to access the existing network.” Camrie put her mug down. “I’ll need a map of all the Wakiran ground station sites. Bill?” Across the table, Bill nodded, as Camrie began to tick off points on her fingers. “I’ll have a word with Sigbin and ask her to get in touch with our Wakiran office. I should speak to Doodlie too once we’re up and running - he’s got good friends at the local Groves who might be able to help with food donations.” She looked at Lodan. “Your Gamma tracking site is away from the worst of the fighting but the mountains won’t be any use as a local head office location. Toralba will be close enough though and it was on my list of possible sites anyway. Do you known anyone at Gamma who could find - and run - an office there?” “Not personally,” said Lodan, “but I shall make enquiries.” He frowned. “Come to think of it, Fercan might know. She’s got good contacts at Beta and Gamma and as our chief telecoms engineer you’ll be liaising with her for your communication requirements in any case.” “Ribory knows Fercan better than I do,” said Bill, “but we have at least met. I’m happy to be her point of contact at White Cross until the Pool is operational. After that I’m scheduled to be back on full-time flight training with James and Calley.” Lodan’s gaze flicked over the trophy wall. “That schedule might be somewhat flexible,” he noted, “but for now, I think that sounds like a plan. Camrie?” “Works for me, Director,” Camrie replied. “Thank you, everyone.” ———————— The ammonia jet blasts down a hundred metre, aluminium pipe. The pipe and it’s surrounding water jacket are sunk into solid rock and designed to cool the ammonia from nearly two and a half thousand degrees, absolute, to a mere eight hundred or so degrees, absolute. At the bottom of the pipe, the jet is split four ways and diverted into a set of industrial-sized vortex separators where any entrained particulates are flung out for collection and analysis. A set of chilled sand filters removes any residual particles before the, now substantially cooler, gas streams are recombined and drawn through a series of cold traps to condense the ammonia. Any remaining gases are removed for analysis and, if necessary, storage. Finally, the recovered liquid is distilled - the baking desert air is especially helpful for this - to save as much as possible for the next test, leaving nothing but a mildly radioactive ammonia brine behind. ———————— “The erosion rates are holding steady and the particle sizes are still consistent with ablation-deposition rather than spallation.” Wernher peered over Hading’s shoulder at the orderly set of graphs taped to his desk. “Looks like the erosion is staying low - and relatively even too, which is reassuring.” “No obvious hotspots or mass flow outliers,” agreed Hading. He rolled his eyes at Wernher’s muttered reply. “You grumble about the stand instrumentation after every test, you know?” “As you never fail to remind me. Calculations and inferences are all very well but I’ll be a lot happier once we get to take that reactor to bits and have a proper look at it. All the same, that carbonitride coating is looking good.” Hading shrugged. “We’re running with ammonia as a coolant. It was the obvious place to start.” “Which is another reason why I’ll be happier once we can do a full inspection. If that coating is self-healing then it’s going to give everyone a lot more confidence in the flight articles.” Wernher gestured at the graphs. “Now that we’ve worked out the control drum synching and upped the propellant flow to something acceptable. I think we’ve got something we could use for Starseed if we absolutely had to. It wouldn’t be ideal - the Mark 2 would a lot better - but we’ve got enough data from the month-by-month burn tests to put in front of Gene.” “We’ve got the restarts down cold,” Hading agreed. “And the temperature cycling results on the spare fuel modules are looking promising enough that you might even persuade me that the data from the ground tests is telling us something about flight conditions.” He leaned back in his chair. “ I really want to put the whole thing in a cryochamber though. Take the engine bell off, build a recirculation and cooling loop for the propellant and just put the reactor through it’s paces in a cold-soak environment.” “For that,” Wernher said dryly, “we’re going to need a bigger fridge.” He tucked his hands behind his back and stared at the ceiling. “Although if we extend the cooling jacket on the test stand… strip out the spare coolant loop from the air conditioning…” “And risk a riot from every other kerbal in the team?” Hading shook his head. “We’re not upgrading the stand with the equipment we’ve got on-site or are likely to get in the near future.” “No. So we just keep plugging away at the test fires, until the KNSA decides to do something.” Wernher stretched, his back popping loudly in response. “Sorry. It all helps though. We’re validating your new neutron transport codes with every test and the more burns we can get out of this thing, the more round trips we can do with a single ship. Speaking of which - we should join the rest of the team. Don’t want to be late for the launch.” They emerged from the air-conditioned gloom of the main test bunker into the blast-furnace heat of the morning sun. The KSA radio broadcast had already started and Wernher cocked his head at the sound of Nelton’s voice requesting an update from one of her controllers. “Ahhh - excellent. Just enough time to get a drink before lift-off.” He donned his sunhat and joined the throng of kerbals clustered around an outsized ice bucket. Grabbing a dripping bottle of water Wernher perched on the end of one of the gnarled cactus logs that served them as outdoor benches. He took a long drink before holding the ice-cold bottle against his forehead. Behind him, the steady call-and-response cadence from the Rockomax Space Centre drifted over the desert sands. —————— Watch now as the Rockomax Type 6 booster, complete with its outsized payload fairing, soars into the afternoon sky. See it arc out over the Northern Ocean, followed avidly by hundreds of watching eyes, until it disappears out of sight. Hear the commentary from Mission Control, the controllers doing their best to project an air of detached competence. Just another launch, another day working for the KSA. Hear the tension beneath their familiar phrases. A momentary stutter here, a report snapped out just a little too promptly there. Because this is not just another launch. This is a rocket built against all the odds. A rocket built despite war and loved ones lost, despite hunger and rationing, despite supply chains and trade routes almost crippled by fear. A rocket for all the people of Kerbin. Young and old. Engineers and agronomists. Kerman and kermol. The quiet heroes across the world who stood with Lodan Kerman and the Kerbal Space Agency in their hour of greatest need. No. This is not just another launch. ——————— Appropriately, given her duties, the bow lookout aboard the Shield of Kolus was the first to spot the unusually shaped cloud. For a split second she froze, fearing an airborne attack, but when the oddity showed no sign of movement she lowered her binoculars and signalled the officer of the deck. “Unidentified aerial object dead ahead, sir. No movement, no aircraft sighted!” The officer of the watch felt his commander’s eyes on his back as he picked up the phone. “Tactical. We have a UFO dead ahead high. Are you seeing anything? No? Thank you - please send Hankin up to the bridge.” He squinted at the cloud. “Nothing on radar, ma’am. I’m calling this a tentative AP.” “It certainly looks like a cloud,” the captain agreed. She turned her head as her meteorology officer hurried onto the bridge, boots ringing on the steel flooring. “Ah, Mister Hankin.” She gestured at the sky. “Your analysis please.” Hankin studied the cloud, eyes narrowed. Then his face cleared. “Dispersing high altitude hypersonic vapor cone, ma’am. KSA launch out of Foxham I expect.” The corner of his captain’s eye twitched. “Thank you, Mister Hankin. Radio, please confirm with Fleet Command.” “By your orders ma’am.” The officer of the deck’s eyes widened. “How the Kerm did they manage that? And what on Kerbin are they launching? We would have heard about any new assets going up.” “Indeed. A civilian payload then.” The captain fought to keep her voice level. Hankin frowned. “Surely all the civilian launches are on hold? The logistics alone with all the seed inspections going on…” His voice trailed away. “Hold that. Didn't they send up a test flight a few months ago? You don’t think…?” “I think it takes more than a war to stop our fellow Kolans,” said the captain. The steely pride in her voice carried across the bridge. The radio operator broke the sudden silence. “Fleet confirms launch out of Foxham. Flight path outside of our theatre of operations so we weren’t advised. Fleet are not aware of the payload at this time, ma,am.” Well that settles it. “I expect we’ll be informed if and when the KSA report an operational spacecraft. Thank you, Radio.” The captain turned to her officer of the deck, who took an involuntary step back at the expression on her face. “I have no idea how they managed it, Mister Jenfry. But by all the Kerm and the first Grove, it’s finally happening!” —————— See the SK1P engines flame out, the strap-on boosters around the core stage falling away in a perfect cross. Watch the exhaust plume from the colossal main engine, the SK2-M “Mainsail”, fanning out in a great golden plume. Hear the crack of explosive bolts as the core stage finally falls away, it’s fire spent. Smell the tension in Mission Control as the second stage engine ignites, the moment of truth fast approaching. And now, see the sunlight. Watch the halves of the oversized fairing tumble away from the speeding rocket, revealing the spacecraft beneath. A spacecraft which is but one part of a vastly craft, itself a precursor of a still larger vessel to come. A vessel conceived through a melding of ambition and dire need unmatched since the Age of Sail. Along the horizon the rocket speeds. Following Kerbin’s curve, continents and oceans falling away behind it. The engine nozzle flexes, wobbles, suddenly deprived of the fiery torrent keeping it taut. Silently, the rocket stage is set free. A pause. Then sparkling trails of frozen vapour nudge it end-over-end, before the last of its essence is vented into space. Soon it will meet a glorious end, stretching a trail of shooting stars across the sky. Leaving the spacecraft it once carried to finally spread its wings. Nacelles along its flanks split open like cocoons, revealing the butterflies beneath. Hinged panels of wires and shining silicon unfurl, turning slowly to face the sun. Deep within, batteries begin to charge, life-giving energy coursing through a myriad of systems. Now hear the roar! Hear the thunder of jubilation, blended with no small amount of relief, at the sight of four lines of text on a screen. > boot up sequence complete vehicle designation: Tenacity vehicle type: Starseed test module > system set
  10. KSK

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    I think it’s more like ‘FH is pointless because of hugely upgraded F9’. When your workhorse booster is putting the heaviest satellite ever into GTO and being recovered, I can see why you might be waxing lyrical about it. I take your point - and I’m very much looking forward to the next FH launch myself - but I’m also happy getting my ‘incredible feat of engineering’ fix from watching progress on Block 5 reusability and BFR development!
  11. KSK

    SpaceX Discussion Thread

    1. Build payload 2. Leave payload on launch pad. 3. Build 4 - 5 if you want to be certain - BFRs. 4. Move BFRs to a safe distance, build large scaffolds, put each BFR on scaffold, nose down. 5. Light BFRs. Marvel as the Earth is pushed out of the way, leaving your implausibly large payload in space. Trust me - I'm not an engineer.
  12. And I cook food on it. Gotta love that Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene) coated frying pan. Certain fluorine containing compounds are useful for various things. Elemental (or pure) fluorine is the nasty stuff, hydrogen fluoride, if anything is even worse. Need to be careful with fluoride salts too - some of them can be pretty bad. Read up on the horror show here.
  13. Here's another one for you then @Just Jim https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/07/first-invader-zim-movie-footage-revealed-looks-gloriously-weird/
  14. So you did - sorry. I still don’t think that price is a particularly relevant factor here though. Until fairly recently, rocketry has not been a particularly price sensitive business. If the risks of using fluorine had been outweighed by utility or by pure performance, it would have been used.
  15. Okay. Lets look at the numbers then. From this site (feel free to provide an alternative), the Block 2 Falcon 9 contained a total of 174,000 litres of LOX. Liquid fluorine has a density of 1.5 kg/l. So, assuming that the Falcon 9 used 100% fluorine as an oxidiser it would need 261,000 kg of fluorine. From your price of 6$ per kilogram, that works out at $1.56m to fill a Falcon 9. Not cheap by any means but still a single digit percentage of the quoted launch price (whichever launch price you choose to use). And that's with one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest launch vehicle in its class. I'm sure price is a factor but it's a fairly insignificant one in the overall scheme of building and flying a launch vehicle. The obvious "Fluorine is demonic" reasons are far more compelling.