Drew Kerman

The Kerbal Space Agency: "Final Flight" of the Mk5 & Block II Announced

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Operations Summary – Week of 5/22/17
 

FZX-816(C) Aerocaptured by Kerbin

When it was discovered by the Asteroid Tracking Network back on May 17th astronomers were amazed to find FZX-816(C) was potentially going to brush by Kerbin so close as to actually enter its atmosphere. It was, in fact, originally projected to miss the ground by a mere 10 kilometers! When it entered the system on May 23rd, revised observations showed it was actually going to skim only 17km over the surface, still a significant brush through the atmosphere, which begged the obvious question – what was going to happen to it? Our knowledge of the composition of asteroids is still very limited. At best we can classify them into broad categories like Stony, Metallic, Carbonaceous, etc based on what we can derive of their makeup from their orbital characteristics & limited optical observation with ground-based telescopes. How well they hold together under heat and pressure no one really knows.

To prepare for this event, scientists traveled by airship from Ockr City to the entry corridor and laid out several stations along the path with seismic sensors to measure any ground impacts and microphones to pick up on the asteroid’s hypersonic passage & possible mid-air breakup. Then, there was nothing to do but pull back to a safe distance and wait. An hour after the asteroid was due to enter the atmosphere late in the day on May 25th, the scientists moved back in to collect their data, noting along the way from station to station no obvious signs of large surface damage on the landscape. When they looked at the data they saw seismic evidence not of an impact but of the pressure wave striking the surface from the asteroid’s passage, along with audio recordings of the sonic booms as it traveled along the entry corridor… and back out into space!

Several hours of airship travel was necessary to bring the news back to Ockr from which it traveled over land comms much faster to reach Kravass City, home of the Kravass Observatory perched atop the 5km+ mountain under which the city sits. By now it was already well into the day’s first night cycle so the team at Kravass Observatory rushed to setup the infrared scope, expecting to pick up the asteroid’s signature easily due to the excess heat it would still be shedding after its pass through the atmosphere. They did have a lot of sky to cover though, being that it’s still a very small object and no one knew its size or shape well enough to even begin to predict how a pass through the atmosphere would affect its orbit. It took two night cycles of observing before the elusive target was finally spotted, and during the following night cycle (3rd sunset to 4th sunrise today) its orbit was locked down:

Untitled3-1-1024x505.png

The current orbit of FZX-816(C) is in blue, the original orbit is in red. The yellow patch of orbit is where the asteroid was during the time it was being hunted, which you can see was a significant deviation from where it would have been if Kerbin had no atmosphere. The asteroid has in fact been captured into orbit around Kerbin, with a period of 8 days, 21h23m04s. However it is still on a trajectory that intercepts Kerbin’s atmosphere and will remain so until it does eventually either crash into the ground or not survive one of its aerobrake passes. It is next scheduled to enter the atmosphere on June 3rd @ 19:21:01 UTC, where it will pass over Sea Ring Crater. The construction of the Arekibo Radio Observatory there will have to be halted during this event – the builders have been notified already. Again scientists will setup audio & seismic stations to record what happens. In the meantime, you can check out more details on FZX-816(C) & its current location using our Flight Tracker. The Kerbal Astronomical Society has already begun discussions for choosing a name.

Genesis Program Concludes: Fly High to Go Long (If Needed)

It’s one thing to run the numbers and say how something should happen, but always better to be able to verify calculation in actual practice, which is what the Genesis Program did when they had first Jeb and then Val fly the new Civvie aircraft home from Kravass. They both followed the exact same route (with some minor deviation due to pilot navigational errors) but Jeb flew at 2km while Val took her flight up to 4km. Engineers have studied the data from both flights to confirm their belief that flying higher is more fuel-efficient thanks to the thinner air, which causes less drag. Of course, the thin air also means less air for the propeller to push against, meaning a slower speed, but the drop in speed is much less than the drop in drag. Flying at 2km allowed the aircraft to travel an average speed of 101m/s while producing an average 0.87kN of drag. Up at 4km the aircraft flew an average speed of 99m/s but the drag force was reduced by a much larger factor to only 0.76kN on average. This reduced fuel consumption by around 24% so although Jeb managed to complete his flight roughly 2-3 minutes faster than Val even though they both traveled 530km, he consumed more fuel than she did on her flight. Still, while the gain in fuel reduction for traveling at 4km will always exceed the gain in speed for traveling at 2km, doing so only gets the aircraft around an additional 500km of range. Unless the Civvie is really going the distance to get where it needs to go, flying at lower altitudes is more feasible mainly for the comfort of the pilot, as the cabin is not pressurized and only has minimal heating – it can get as cold as 18°F up at 4km during the early hours of the day.

Progeny Mk4 #2 Looking Good for Launch May 31st

Although we said in a previous ops summary that we expected to launch by the end of this month, we realized today we hadn’t yet announced an official launch date and time. It has now been set to May 31st @ 17:33 UTC. The rocket was topped off today and will be undergoing final integration on Monday, followed by readiness checkouts and rollout on Tuesday prior to launch on Wednesday. We will be returning to the ascent profile of coasting between booster stagings, and starting with a change in pitch of 1.5° to signify the end of a coast period, with the final stage also not being allowed to drop below 100m/s of vertical speed before a staging event is triggered. Now that we know the rocket will fail under high dynamic pressure launching at full continuous thrust, we need to see how it will handle the upper atmosphere at full continuous thrust, meaning the third stage LF/O engine will ignite at 100% throttle and stay wide open the entire time. We do expect friction to become an issue as the rocket increases in speed but we won’t know how bad it will get.

KB/Genesis Mission Failure Worsens Part Shortage, Ends Joint Missions

The fourth joint mission between KerBalloon and Genesis programs ended in failure this past week when the balloon envelope failed to deploy properly after it was detached from the Civvie. Upon striking the ground, the canister of compressed gas meant to fill the balloon ruptured and blew the entire thing to bits, KerBalloon crews out to track the balloon who recovered the remains have turned them over to the Genesis program to see if they can determine what went wrong. This was Val’s first mission dropping a fully-equipped KerBalloon although she was the first to test the concept earlier this year. Both programs have already cleared her of any fault – she literally only has to press a button and reported no strike of the balloon on the aircraft, confirmed with a visual inspection after she landed back at KSC.

Until the nature of the failure is determined, KerBalloon has suspended cooperation with Genesis and will instead return to launching the balloons from the ground. They also do not feel they have seen a reasonable profit increase when teaming up with Genesis. This doesn’t limit their effect range that much, since using the aircraft to deploy the balloon rather than carrying it aboard a UTV to the deployment site only allows them to carry extra fuel to extend their range by about 200-300km. Although they anticipated contracts that would send them further from KSC, so far that has not happened.

The loss of the KerBalloon unit also included the loss of a barometer instrument and avionics unit, the latter of which is what is also known as a Master Control Unit, an integral part of any probe used in both KerBalloon and Progeny missions. It is an expensive part and so not many have been ordered since KSA began operations. This was the second to last MCU available and with the final MCU already integrated into the second Progeny Mk4 the KerBalloon program is unable to launch any more balloons until additional units arrive on Jun 2nd. These will be followed by additional units later in the month so that we eventually end up with 10 units to trade between the programs. We are also awaiting the arrival of replacements for several scientific instruments. Head of Finances Mortimer is working on a new budget that will allow for increased expenditure in part requisitioning.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 588 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

We are nearing opposition with Sarnus next month which means its size has increased as we continue to move closer to it again and it has become a nice target for a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, especially during events like the one shown below, which is Mun occulting the planet. You can also see Slate, Tekto and Eeloo.

sarnus-occultation_34437270342_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 5/16/17

Better week, 6 real days for 7 KSA days. Less hassle and stress all around although I did sink several hours into some dumb issues. Still hoping I can at some point recoup my 3-week lead time, I’m still not happy with how little attention I can pay to over-arching story when I’m taking things so day-by-day.

Asteroid capture – not faked

I let the asteroid event play out in the game, watching it pass through the atmosphere and enter into orbit around Kerbin. I was really expecting it to heat up and explode, so I spent some time trying to figure out how to dynamically adjust the Blast Awesomeness setting using the Blast Awesomeness Modifier but the asteroid has no pre-defined resources I can use and Module Manager doesn’t know its mass at load because it’s dynamic so I can’t apply a patch for it. So I just settled at a BAM of 5 – but of course it didn’t matter cause the asteroid didn’t explode! Note that asteroids approaching Kerbin on a direct impact trajectory always explode, anything that reaches the ground is me saying it did.

This event did lead me to finding an issue I spent several hours testing, which I think may be some kind of stock bug exacerbated by mods – I have no idea to be honest and no one else seems to really be interested in it. In the end I managed to get the asteroid through periapsis at the proper altitude to end up with the final aerocapture.

Terrain scatter continuity

I take continuity very seriously, so when I had to take this photo of Kravass airport, I needed to check it against this previous photo to see if there were any obvious inconsistencies, which there were. The biggest were two evergreen trees right behind the tarmac that were not there in the overflight image. So I had to remove them and then copy/paste some of the scatter objects in the background to fill in the emptiness they left. Another problem with terrain scatter objects is that they don’t play nicely with Scatterer’s atmospheric effects – if you look at this photo you can see most of the trees in the foreground that rise high enough are treated as though they are off in the distance. I’ve had to deal with this in a number of previous photos and the solution is to just disable the depth buffer in Scatterer’s in-game menu and take another screenshot to merge the two together & remove the Scatterer effect from certain terrain scatter objects.

Seven-hour aircraft flight

The second flight from KGA to KSC I had to stop twice to go coach, leaving the game running and hoping that it wouldn’t crash. If it did I was just going to call a mis-flight and write in a bad storm that kept Val grounded for that day so I could continue to move on. Thankfully though the game did  not crash nor did my computer crash and I was able to finish the flight. It was also entirely my fault that I stayed in bed until like 1pm :P

Landing gear – love it

Spent a few hours I don’t have really trying to figure out if I can salvage the landing gear for the Civvie (and Deuce probably), I made a post for help on the FAR aircraft forums. In the end I decided it’s too much time that’s needed to really tweak the wheels to where I need them and even then I still might not succeed – so love it. I will continue to drop the Civvie from 600m, recover and fly low over the runway before starting the loggers, and landing will just be whatever the hell it is, I mean I came down soft as a feather recently and all this excrements happened anyways. On the plus side I’ve now started flying the Civvie using the actual fixed landing gear shown in all the photos and I’m happy to find that there’s really no difference at all, which is exactly what I was aiming for when I designed the alternate setup using the retractable gear.

Flight time is also now measured from the moment I enable logging to the moment the aircraft settles on the ground during landing.

Kerbals can’t lie on their backs

For this photo of Bill wrenching on a UTV I wanted to have him lying on his back, so I loaded up the Whack-A-Kerbal (has a much more boring name now, I think it’s called Object Tosser. Lame) and proceeded to knock him over every which way, but this was the best I could do. Apparently they can’t lay on their backs. How disappointing. So instead I had him lay on his stomach, because apparently that’s doable, and then I just flipped the image around. Could I have just taken an image of him standing up from the side? Sure but I was looking for better leg positioning. It should be noted that there is Kerbal Animation Suite but it’s been acting finicky lately and you can’t actually adjust a kerbal’s entire orientation – s/he will always be standing and even if you animate both legs off the ground they will just float there.

Reddit reception

Been posting a bit more of my edited hangar shots to reddit and they have been appreciated (shot 1 | Shot 2) – and oooh hey reddit is showing you the number of views your post has gotten now. That’s nice. I was also a bit disappointed the latest ops summary only got 15 upvotes and no comments but it was 100% upvoted so I’ll take that!

 

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Exciting news about the captured asteroid! Who spotted it first? As for a name, it seems like a lot minor celestial bodies are named for the first one or two people that saw it, who was the astronomer on duty?

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2 hours ago, Nightside said:

Exciting news about the captured asteroid! Who spotted it first? As for a name, it seems like a lot minor celestial bodies are named for the first one or two people that saw it, who was the astronomer on duty?

Remesis was discovered by accident and named after its discoverer (easter egg - the name is an anagram of a real celestial discoverer), however Chikelu was named after the fact that it seemed to appear in orbit by itself without help from Mun (easter egg - it's a real name, though its meaning was slightly altered to simply "brought into existence" for KSA's purposes). We'll see which way this one goes sometime next week

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Operations Summary – Week of 5/29/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Launch Analysis Still Ongoing

During its second launch yesterday the Mk4 once again suffered a break-up in flight, this time later in the ascent during the 3rd stage boost. You can watch the video of the entire ascent, including the break-up, unfortunately some hardware issues created a few errors in the data that we couldn’t completely scrub out. The tracking cameras will be inspected prior to the next launch. Progenitor engineers spent all day today going over the telemetry data as well as the radar contact data sent to us from MSV Tongjess and of course the video recordings of the ascent. They worked late today but were still deliberating on analysis results and overall conclusions when Lead Engineer Simon finally told them all to get out for the weekend and come back fresh on Monday.

What we can say right now is that while the failure of the rocket during ascent is of course unfortunate, remember that we once again intentionally pushed it as hard as possible to exceed any unknown or theoretical limitations. As much as we would have loved for it to have survived everything that was thrown at it, we now at least have a much better idea of the forces at work on the craft during a rapid ascent through the upper atmosphere. We can also state that although telemetry data was lost before the rocket’s apokee reached past 70km, a good portion of today’s analysis was projecting the probable apokee at the time of break-up, which does in fact come out in excess of 70km. We can confirm that space is within our reach with the Mk4!

We’re currently expecting to release a full analysis sometime late in the day on Monday.

Weird Asteroid-Related Weather?

A persistent and very large band of moisture appeared to work its way around the planet in the days following the passage of Pilirani through our atmosphere, impacting the launch of our latest Progeny Mk4 rocket. It first reached the Arekibo Radio Observatory construction site and poured rain down on them for two full days, halting construction for a day when the dish bowl became flooded and had to be pumped out. It then struck Kravass City, which wouldn’t have been a big deal for an underground city except for the fact that Kravass General Airport flight trainees under instruction of our Captain Jebediah were carrying out some landing pattern work in a Civvie as the valley was fogged in within minutes. Luckily the student pilot was able to land in <500m visibility with only minor damage to the aircraft and no injuries to himself. The storm reached KSC later that day and also stuck around for over an entire day. The intensity of the storm was low, with only moderate winds and rainfall, lightning and thunder were reported but no ground strikes were seen. Meteorologists have done what research they could into the storms after the fact, and have put forth theories that include the asteroid’s passage dumping large amounts of material in the air that were carried aloft by winds to form huge cloud banks filled with moisture – perhaps most of it from the asteroid itself? They are planning to perform a more detailed study after this next pass of Pilirani over the weekend.

Kravass Flight Training Takes to the Skies

For the past several weeks Commander Valentina and Captain Jebediah have been taking turns training a cadre of new pilots for the CIvvie aircraft, who will in turn eventually begin to train the dozens of want-to-be private kerb pilots who have expressed interest in buying the aircraft and experiencing the surface of Kerbin from above. C7 Aerospace built a factory in Kravass to manufacture new Civvies and so far 4 have rolled off the line. Two of those have gone to us to expand our fleet to three aircraft while the other two and three of the four coming in June will be for Kravass General Airport to train kerbs on. Last week Jeb started allowing trainees to take the Civvies up for actual flying, talking to them from the ground by radio to guide their flights and landings. So far, other than the incident mentioned in our previous story, everything has been going very well – although there have been moments. The four trainees will continue to pilot actual aircraft for the remainder of their training and each will conclude with a cross-country flight between KGA and KSC. Best of luck to everyone!

Successful Solo KerBalloon Inland Mission

Today the KerBalloon crews along with Bill and Bob carried out a mission to launch & recover a balloon from the highlands northwest of KSC. Normally they would simply recover the balloon that was dropped & deployed by a Civvie aircraft in cooperation with the Genesis program but as they are still trying to determine why deployment failed on the last attempt, the launch was done from the ground this time. While KerBalloon would be willing to partner up with Genesis again in the future, the distances needed to make the joint venture worthwhile will have to be much larger than current contracts are asking our UTVs to travel.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 615 asteroids. A surprising revision was made to BDN-506(C), which was predicted to pass 938km from Kerbin in 2030 – turns out it is actually passing that close to Minmus. The mistake was noted on the second observation and recording of the asteroid’s orbit, so this could hold up. We’ll see if the next orbital check up in September still shows this encounter.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

This is a really cool image of Minmus taken by Bob, which looks like a good chunk of the normally roundish moon is completely missing. What’s really happening is the lowland areas like the ones you see lit at the top are completely shadowed by the higher elevations.

chunky-minmus_33912716323_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 5/23/17

Uuggghhhh I was doing pretty well in getting ahead and could have written this on 5/21 if something hadn’t come and waylaid me – been spending way too much time not being able to get out of bed. Feeling better now though, probably just nasty seasonal allergies which I hear have been pretty bad all around this year so far. Bleh. OMG so many notes. Let’s get to it.

Progeny Mk4 Launch

I went into this launch knowing it was going to be a pain in the ass and made things worse by being rather incompetent at trying to pull it off. The reason I knew it was going to suck was that getting the rocket to behave very similarly on the actual launch and the various replays I do for video recording was going to be difficult due to the dynamic nature of the wobble (actual occurrence, not induced for plot) that the rocket would pick up when separating from the second stage. I went so far as to write a kOS script that logged the precise time I triggered staging actions so I could play things back as accurately as possible. Still, this led to some pretty wacky ascent trajectories (green is actual, yellow is the recreation attempt) and I actually had to tweak the staging events just a little bit to get this plot, the closest after several tries.

Beyond the difficulty of recreating the ascent conditions when doing things right, I did many things oh so wrong… Let’s see for one attempt since the Camera Tools camera tends to move while targeting a vessel it clipped into the Tracking Station since that’s where I place it, blocking the view. Another launch when I decided to start using Persistent Trails so I could compare the ascent trajectory and see how close I got afterwards I forgot to disable the trail rendering so a green line was visible following the rocket. I forgot on another launch attempt to reset the SmokeScreen particle count that was lowered to save FPS during the actual launch so flame/smoke trails were almost non-existent. Another launch I forgot to set the throttle so the 3rd stage never ignited….

I finally made a checklist using the checklist program I recently downloaded so that when I reset to try again for a better trajectory match I wouldn’t keep forgetting things and having to redo it again. Checklists are good. I have actual checklists I use when launching rockets and flying planes in KSP. Highly recommend the app I linked for Windows.

Anyways the best launch trajectory I got also ended up clipping into the damn Tracking Station again which is why the video has “data issues” and you see that fuzz/static show up towards the end of the ascent to explain the cut in the video when I had to remove the 3 seconds of footage showing a texture from the Tracking Station blocking the view. It came out looking better than I thought and used an annoying issue in my video editor Sony Vegas where if I had two video clips layered atop each other they’d interfere and cause rendering to spazz out.

I also wasted an hour or two mucking around with Flight Manager for Reusable Stages so I could go back to the booster releases and track their trajectories (sneak peek!) and see how they land after decoupling. However turns out FMRS doesn’t track objects that don’t have a parachute, control unit or command pod attached to them, so I had to figure out what I needed to patch into the boosters using Module Manager to meet those requirements without having to add any extra parts/mass to the rocket. Finally figured it out but turns out that when reloading the boosters they don’t behave anything like I would expect them to. However the addition of the Command module to the boosters has let me select “Control from here” at launch so that when the booster is decoupled, the rest of the rocket flies off and I can see & track the booster. So I just have to recreate the launch a few extra times, which is something I’m already good at anyways. So yea, no longer using FMRS for now.

MM configs for visual enhancements

In the process of hunting down a Scatterer issue I rewrote and added several MM configs for myself to not have to constantly be editing files in the Stock Visual Enhancements install whenever I update it. I also moved some textures I was including myself in the SVE install into my own KSA folder within GameData. So yea now I can just delete the SVE folder and drop in the updated one and not have to worry about any of my own changes being overwritten. Still, I wish there was a way to pre-empt MM patches from even being performed in the first place rather than having to just delete them or overwrite them with your own patch. The MM configs I have also let me adjust properties of the EVE cloud layers since if I do that in the game it messes up the Scatterer integration with EVE (known issue). Thankfully if I setup cloud conditions using the offset property of the cloud layers (like forming overcast skies) in the game and then restart with the settings added to my MM config the clouds show up exactly where they should.

If anyone is interested more in what I did for their own installs, just contact me. One example is using MM to make sure you never have city lights.

Better-quality clouds from the ground

It was pointed out in this post how much better clouds from the ground can look when you tweak up their detail levels (comparison – 10 on left, 30 on right). The reason the SVE dev gives for keeping them at a low level is very valid, but it’s a shame he didn’t bother to mention anywhere how to improve things from the ground given that plenty of people spend a lot of their time in the atmosphere of Kerbin.

Civvie EC usage still screwed up

So it turns out that the issue I spoke about in a previous Desk Notes about the Civvie’s engine alternator no longer producing EC while running at idle is due to a bug fix in SolverEngines, a mod dependency of Advanced Jet Engine, where the alternator was putting out 15% of the total power capability at idle, which didn’t work from a balance perspective for all engines. They still haven’t come up with a good solution so now no engines produce EC at idle. Well okay then so I just added my own to the Bonny cockpit I can toggle on with engine start:


MODULE
{
  name = ModuleGenerator
  isAlwaysActive = false
  activateGUIName = Activate Alternator
  shutdownGUIName = Deactivate Alternator
  OUTPUT_RESOURCE
  {
    name = ElectricCharge
    rate = 0.05
  }
}

So yea battery usage of the Civvies on their recent flights will be different from subsequent ones but I don’t really expose that data anyways so not a huge deal. I’ve taken what I feel is the proper amount of batteries out of my parts inventory and we’ll just leave it at that and continue on…

Non-rechargeable batteries

Speaking of batteries, I mentioned in a previous Desk Notes how I do non-rechargeable batteries by simply disabling them when the engine alternator can keep up with any demand and enabling them when it can’t. So they would always drain and never recharge. Well, I got tired of always having to have multiple Part Access Windows pinned to my display so I could enable/disable batteries without having to hunt for them inside the plane while flying, so after some experimentation on my own that led nowhere I took to the forums and asked if anyone had a better idea. Turns out someone did, and it’s pretty awesome. Now I don’t have to manage the batteries anymore and they drain without recharging. w00t

No more orbit jumping

Last week’s Desk Notes I talked about a problem where loading asteroids would cause their orbits to change drastically. Turns out it was an issue with PersistentRotation, which I had determined at the time was one of the mods causing problems but after a recent update was released it seems to have fixed all the problems I was seeing even with some other mods.

Even though this is fixed, the effects of this bug will be ever-lasting in the orbits of most the asteroids I visited while it was an issue. For example, this is probably why one Trojan asteroid was found to be on a course that actually brushed through Jool’s SOI. Upon re-visiting asteroids their orbits would jump and change their periods by several minutes or hours – some NKOs on course to re-intercept Kerbin’s SOI probably wouldn’t be doing so otherwise. In the end though, it all doesn’t have to be justified in any way since things like this aren’t really exposed to the normal follower. I am in fact thinking it would be cool if the asteroid orbit would continue to have a small percentage of a jump due to “errors in previous observations” to add a bit more randomness to things…

One last thing…

Did anyone notice the ceiling crane?

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 6/5/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Launch Analysis & Future Plans Detailed

The full report on the second launch of the Progeny Mk4 and plans for how we are going to move forward was posted earlier this week. As we mentioned in last week’s ops summary, the Mk4 has the capability to reach space, which is a relief to Progenitor engineers who were not looking forward to the added complexity of strapping on Mk1-B boosters for additional thrust. Our next series of launches will play around with the ascent profile to see how changes to thrust and coasting periods affect the apokee of the rocket. Umbra Space Industries is continuing to move forward with a redesign of the engines across all three solid fuel boosters as well as finishing up work on the Automated Master Control Unit, which will be able to carry out commands programmed into its memory prior to launch. Once it is ready for use we will transition over to the final planned iteration of the Progeny series, the Mk5.

Pilirani’s Fate Unknown, Likely Impacted Water

Even though we were lucky enough to witness what scientists say had to have been the final pass through our atmosphere of Pilirani, no one saw it break up before it disappeared below the horizon as seen from Ockr City. Its estimated trajectory would have carried it out over mostly water, so that is most likely where it ended up impacting the surface. Still, the fact that no one can say for sure has only helped to fuel the belief of Monolith worshipers that this was no asteroid but really a space ship that was sent to collect “true believers” on its final pass – however no one can seem to find reports of anyone actually missing. There exists another, darker side to people obsessing over the Monolith and word from them is that this was a reconnaissance craft making an overflight of Kerbin civilization to check on the progress of our development. No one here at KSA gives these “theories” any serious attention.

What scientists have found interesting though is that the passage of Pilirani through the atmosphere has caused some very weird weather to erupt in the days that follow. Meteorologists are only beginning to study what has been going on, but all cities have reported lots of rain and very overcast skies, while here at KSC we experienced some damaging winds shortly after the final pass that came close to us. It’s suspected that particle material shed by the asteroid has lingered in the atmosphere – studies remain ongoing.

Finally in related news, it was confirmed that a second asteroid struck the water north of Kravass City the same day Pilirani was due to make return passes through the atmosphere. Scientists still studying the area report clear evidence of high waves striking the shoreline, and are considering whether they want to attempt an underwater expedition to search for fragments.

KerBalloon Faces Recovery Issues

Both missions carried out this week by KerBalloon suffered problems when it came to recovering their payloads after landing. In the first mission two launch zones were so close together we deployed balloons simultaneously, both of which drifted east but then caught an upper-level stream of air that sent them west towards the mountains. During recovery one of the units was retrieved but the second was found to be inaccessible upon a high and steep slope, forcing us to call in a special search & rescue airship to retrieve it the following day.

The second mission was by far the most intriguing, as it appeared some sea creature found our parachutes appetizing. The MSV Lymun was in close proximity to the probe when it splashed down in the water and when its recovery craft approached to fish out the unit they saw the chute get pulled under, taking the balloon casing with it. Despite waiting and searching for it to re-appear, no sign of it was seen again. If it had been pulled down to a depth greater than 150m or so it’s likely the casing would have ruptured under the pressure and the unit would have sank even if the creature had released the chute or it had broken free (unlikely the chute lines would have parted though).

Marine experts have been consulted and note there are a few predatory species that go after large invertebrate animals, which they say our parachute might resemble to them. The KerBalloon team is looking into a way to have the chute cut itself off from the casing after touchdown to help ensure this doesn’t happen again. It also might explain what happened to the KerBalloon unit from this mission last year that also disappeared without a trace on relatively calm seas.

Civvie Science Flight & Deuce Completion

Genesis program saw a good week, starting with a purely science-driven flight of the Civvie equipped with an Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer to take high-resolution sample data of the surrounding Shores and Grasslands. The data was too much to store on the Civvie and so was transmitted via direct link to the Tracking Station. The antenna aboard the Civvie is powerful enough to send data at a rate approaching 512kb/s but understandably this drains more energy than the engine’s alternator can put out at full throttle so eventually the batteries will run down and need to be replaced. The are pretty big, so this operation can take upwards of 30-45 minutes. Captain Jeb made two flights, meandering all about the surrounding areas while staying within visual range of KSC. While the mission did generate enough revenue to overcome the cost of deploying and fueling the Civvie, pretty much all gain was immediately spent on more batteries so future missions can be carried out – hopefully with additional backing from the Field Research Team in the R&D labs.

Other news from Genesis is that the Deuce has finished construction, which was started at the beginning of last month, and will begin ground trials next week. These trials will ensure that the engines, landing gear, control surfaces, electrical and fuel systems are all in working order before the aircraft is cleared to attempt takeoff and flight. Captain Jeb is excited to be the first to have mitts-on the new aircraft since Val was able to test the original Civvie while his arm was broken. Although the Deuce is a multi-crew aircraft it can just as easily be operated by a single pilot and given that we only have two we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket – plus Val is still away at Kravass through next week for the last training session of new Civvie flight instructors (which has been going well – no one has been injured or completely wrecked an aircraft yet).

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was skipped this week – we guess everyone was still too caught up in the excitement of Pilirani’s passing. We can tell you though that as of today the total asteroid count stands at 665 and there have been no new alerts.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

A wide-angle shot of the night sky, with the Lagoo Nebula stretching across in all its glory. You can also spot Sarnus, Urlum, Neidon and Duna.

while-its-still-clear_34854718615_o-1024

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 5/29/17

Making good progress again, today I want to also bang out the weekend following this report to very almost be two weeks ahead. Still going for three. I’ve had a few days this past week though where I just couldn’t sit at the computer any more and had to go make myself do something else, which is annoying because I also feel like I want to get further ahead on things. Ultimately I think I’m managing a good balance – I still play a few other games, watch movies and spend time with friends.

It’s official, I like this more than money

If you didn’t know, my main job is coaching gymnastics, both recreational and competitive. It pays the bills, but overall doesn’t leave me a lot of money to spend on things. A side-job to help fill out the coffers is being a pyrotechnician for Fireworks by Grucci. It’s hard work but good pay (and awesome payoff getting to stand beneath epic skysplosions). I’m always on the job for New Years and 4th of July but there’s one other show I do yearly down in Maryland that runs twice in two weeks, but when they called me up for it I had to tell them I was too busy. My coaching responsibilities have increased a lot recently, but I would be lying if I said that was the only reason (definitely the biggest though). I maybe could have swung going down for one week, but I’m also going to be away down in Florida for my yearly 4th of July show and I need to make sure KSA has a good lead going into that. I’m not complaining, I just found it interesting I could make this decision so easily.

More background on Pilirani

I had someone ask about names and revealed the origins of the two previously-named moonlets and Pilirani is no different – it really means what I said it means. I should note I haven’t mucked with asteroid heat tolerances and no mods I have mess with those either. There’s also the fact that asteroids don’t ablate material so its mass and shape stays the same after every aerobrake, however FAR does induce spin while it travels through the atmosphere and Persistent rotation keeps it spinning afterwards for any future passes. I really didn’t have the time to put into making this event hyper-realistic and so I just let it play out the way it did – the final pass near KSC is what actually happened without me meddling with anything, and the events played out perfectly within the normal Eastern time zone I stick to. The second asteroid impact? Also a completely game-driven event that happened to coincide. It was a Class-E asteroid so I had to let it hit the surface. There was actually a Class-A asteroid that burned up unknowingly on the other side of the planet a day later! I know it all may come off as a bit scripted but ask yourself this – do you really think I wanted to give myself more work on a weekend?? :P You can thank Reentry Particle Effect for the cool particle tail in this photo, which was taken using Camera Tools to move the camera over to the KSC and then zoom in.

Civvie science data transmission w/Kerbalism signal mode

The Civvie mission this week was the first time I really exposed Kerbalism‘s signal mode, talking in detail about the transmission of science data in size and rate. Kerbalism converts science to Mb, so when I take an atmosphere reading I really do end up with nearly 800Mb of data which I then transmit to KSC at a data rate defined by the strength of the antenna and the distance to cover. Being so close to KSC meant I got nearly the max rate of 512kb/s. It’s a very nice realism mechanic and works well, although I’m still not completely sure I have it balanced to my liking.

Fixed gear landings

I still can’t take off, but I have at least managed to land with the fixed gear without completely flipping out in the process. Here are two examples, both from the recent flight this past week. You can see me tapping the brakes any time the wheels are in contact with the ground to try to get under 20m/s as quickly as possible. It’s still very touchy tho. For takeoffs I still just drop from about 500 meters, recover and fly low over the ground then climb out, but I’m considering trying to disable friction control completely for the wheels while in my takeoff roll to see if that keeps me from swerving.

KSP v1.3

So the new KSP version dropped this past weekend and of course I’m still stuck on v1.2.2 until mods update, but that’s not really a surprise and there’s really nothing huge about v1.3 that has me chomping at the bit to update. As of today, this is where I stand on the list of required mods for my upgrade. I’m not really worried about any of the mods on that list not getting an update, so now it’s just a matter of patience.

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 6/12/17
 

Deuce Crash Investigation Underway

With a successful ground trial earlier this week and after review of the data turned up no major issues that required further fixing & testing the Deuce was cleared for flight trials. Captain Jeb was in command of the first flight trial, which ended with the Deuce losing control on final approach and crashing into the water 6km short of the runway. The Deuce impacted the water nose-first at a near-vertical orientation, crumpling the nose cone and damaging the leading edges of both wings. The engines were knocked off as designed so that they would sink without bringing the rest of the craft down with them if the cabin remained intact. Our rescue boat was shadowing the aircraft on its approach so was able to reach the scene of the accident within a minute to confirm that Jeb was okay and the aircraft was not taking on water. A tow cable was attached & the Deuce was slowly tugged back to shore, where it was loaded up on a carry vehicle & trucked back to the HAB for inspection. Jeb was taken to the medical center for evaluation & released without any serious injuries, although he will be on short-term medication for some strained muscles & bruises.

C7 Aerospace Division has opened a formal investigation into the crash to determine exactly what went wrong so it can be fixed when the Deuce is rebuilt. Both engines were recovered today from the sea floor, where they had sunk to a depth of 745m. The Telemetry Data Unit that records all the flight details was also preserved without damage in the tail section of the aircraft. Investigators have all the information they could ask for and plan to spend at least the next week digging through it. When they release their conclusions later this month we will also include a detailed report of the Deuce’s first flight.

Jeb was on medical leave today & will remain so over the weekend but is expected to return to full duty on Monday.

Airborne Rocket Launch Postponed Indefinitely

Last week Jeb came up with the idea of using the two Progeny Mk1-B boosters we have in surplus to test the feasibility of launching a rocket from a plane. Lead Engineer Simon initially scoffed at the idea but since the Progenitor program has slowed down waiting for their new parts to be delivered, he had time to actually think about it and decided it was worth looking into. Jeb had suggested the idea with the Civvie in mind but after drafting up various mounting ideas Simon realized this just wouldn’t be possible for various reasons. The Deuce, however, could carry the rocket on its back and in fact carrying payloads atop its tail section is what the aircraft was designed to do. However with the recent crash the airborne rocket launch idea will have to wait a while longer. Still, the Mk1-B currently under assembly will continue to be built so it is ready when the time comes.

It should be noted that using a Mk1-B isn’t just being done out of convenience for having the boosters available. The fact that we know how the rocket performs when launched from the ground will allow us to properly analyze how it performs when launched from 4km ASL.

KerBalloon & Genesis Continue Science Missions

Both programs dispatched missions to collect science and/or satisfy contracts this week, with KerBalloon launching both low-altitude and high-altitude balloons and the Civvie flying another atmospheric sampling mission, this time over the Highlands and Mountains. All the missions were successful and especially in the case of the Civvie, which was already out on the tarmac from the previous sampling mission and thus saved cost in not needing to be deployed from the HAB. Our profits continue to come mostly from the KerBalloon program, as Genesis & Progenitor have both seen recent hard setbacks with the Deuce and Mk4, respectively.

KGA Instructors Graduate

Captain Jeb and Commander Val are super proud of the 4 Civvie flight instructors they have trained over these past eight weeks & will be pinning wings on them this weekend in a small graduation ceremony to be held at Kravass General Airport, where the training school is based. Mungee, Tedman, Helta and Aldeny completed their flight training by flying cross-country from KGA to KSC or KSC to KGA – two were at either location in order to be able to fly a Civvie both ways. They will now in turn begin to train the private pilots who will soon be receiving their own aircraft. The first delivery of a Civvie to a private individual will be at the end of this month. Those still waiting for their own aircraft will be able to use one of the 5 Civvies that will be stationed at KGA – 4 have already been delivered (one is still out another week or so for repairs from a bad landing).

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, and covers all additions & changes made over the past two weeks since the ATN missed a report last week. There are now a total of 674 known asteroids. No new alerts have been issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Sarnus is pretty big now even through a low-powered scope thanks to the fact that we were at opposition to it at the start of this week. Sadly, a double-shadow transit of Eeloo and Slate will not be visible over KSC until the beginning of July.

sarnus-at-opposition_34950504876_o-300x1

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/2/17

A week in 4 days?! Daaaaamnnn. And looking back at this week it’s not like it was a slow week at all. Chalking this win up to becoming a lot more structured in how I go about setting up daily activities and carrying them out in the game. I have procedures laid down for just about everything I need to do so that I can get it done quickly and efficiently. Although there are still times where the game just doesn’t like to cooperate I haven’t had to waste hours chasing down deal-breaking issues these past few days, which has all definitely helped. Also, not being sick. Being sick does not help.

Yup, the Deuce crashed

I tried really hard not to let it crash and honestly did not think I was going to crash – the “I got this” tweet prior to the “Mayday!” tweet is true to how I was feeling on approach, but I just wasn’t able to hold on to the control I had up to that point. The events of the crash will come out in much more vivid detail in the final accident report but I just want to make it clear this wasn’t a planned event. I do sometimes decide in advance how things should play out one way or another, but just as often I go out and give a mission my best shot and whatever happens is what happens. Also my arm really was getting tired keeping the aircraft under control.

Some good news is that it took off without me having to disable friction on the wheels, although I almost forgot to switch off the tail wheel steering so I could control the rudder as a good deal of sideslip presented itself in the take off roll. I’ve switched over to using my X55 since it has a split throttle and for some reason it can only do wheel steering or rudder control at any one time. Ironically I can’t even use the split throttle because Davon Throttle Control is not compatible with Advanced Jet Engine since the latter changes the names of the modules the former uses to recognize an engine it should be controlling. Hopefully a v1.3 update will fix that.

I’m not entirely pleased with the Deuce crash image, I tried to get the nose cone to crumple further (it does this with Kerbal Krash System) by dropping it from various heights but that was the best I could do. I still don’t really understand the KKS config values for part damage and didn’t want to spend the time experimenting aimlessly in the hope for a better result that maybe wouldn’t happen. Also getting it setup was a bit of a pain since if I plopped one of the craft in the water then went back to the SPH and brought out the second the one in the water would get kraken’d off into space, so I had to deploy the first and move it off the runway, deploy the second then VesselMover them into the water. Again also with a spam of NREs from G-Effects that slowed things down. Bah.

Worst lag ever on latest Civvie flight

The last science flight ended with about 4 real seconds for every in-game second and OMG it was torture. Performance was fine at takeoff, but as the flight progressed it got worse and worse. I opened up the debug menu but didn’t see anything obvious in the logs. This flight wasn’t any longer or really different than the last science flight and the only new mod I’ve installed since then is Kopernicus, so that is a suspect but unlikely. I thought maybe the Persistent Trails track, although hidden, was taking up performance since it was set to high-res and I wasn’t flying much in a straight line. I actually stopped, saved the track, paused the game, deleted the track from the data folder, resumed the game, deleted the track from the game and started a new track. No difference. The only other thing I can think of is that there is this weird issue when I do named quicksaves that the camera switches to one of the Hullcam VDS views or even opens the Advanced Fly-By-Wire dialog boxes. Well, sometimes if I use Backspace to return to normal view it screws up the camera or just screws up the hullcams so when I try to look through them I’m staring inside the aircraft. This latter issue was present on this flight and could have caused some lag… somehow. I dunno, but it was the only unusual aspect to the flight. But hey, I still managed to land the Civvie intact!

Also, for the first time in v1.2.2 I took off in the Civvie from the ground, on the fixed gear. I was tipped off a while ago that disabling all friction on the wheels would help solve any issues related to misaligned gear and finally remembered to try it out. Nice to be able to have a rolling takeoff again (friction is re-enabled for landing because without it the brakes don’t work! So I disable it right before starting the takeoff roll).

Also the X55 rollers on the throttle I have set to pitch/yaw trim are so much better than my X52 – I should have just been using the X55 from the start.

More efficient post-flight picture taking

If you don’t know, I fly without any graphics mods for better performance, which means that for all the fancy images from the aircraft that you see I need to recreate the exact conditions from which they were taken. I’ve discussed this in previous Desk Notes here and here if you want the details. Because I couldn’t see through the hullcams on this last Civvie flight I had to guess at where along the flight would be good points for photos. Because I would be guessing & have to redo placement a lot I did all the initial setups without any graphics mods so things would load faster & perform better. While doing this I came up with a great way to save the location/orientation/altitude so that once I got the positions I wanted, I threw all my graphics mods back in and was able to just hop from place to place and switch to the hullcam and snap the shot without needing to fiddle around with the aircraft in a low-FPS environment. I forgot to save any before shots for comparison of this last flight but here’s an example I forgot to show off a while ago as to what I see when flying the mission and then how it looks when I go back and recreate it with graphics mods:

Untitle3-300x188.png KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170515_021255-1-300x188.png

Second Mk4 launch a successful failure

I already spoke more about the details behind the latest Progeny Mk4 launch but this past week I actually got to watch everyone else experience it and was very pleased in the engagement by followers. It definitely seemed like people “came out” for the launch and were eager to follow along closely more on that day than on others. I don’t mind that, in fact I think it is normal behavior – I don’t expect people to be hanging on for every tweet by the KSA. Most it seems come around twitter to catch up every few days or every few hours a day. I doubt any of them are pinning up a livestream of the account for them to monitor all day while they go about their own business (actually, maybe some are).

Was still annoyed to catch mistakes however. One tweet was scheduled way early, there was a typo in my launch countdown timeline and the ascent graphic originally had some misleading text coloration. I took it down, modified it, posted a new version that looked terrible, took it down again and redid it and posted it a third time. Stressful.

Also my webserver can’t seem to maintain a constant time on their system clock. Maybe its something to do with a cloud service and my server is really being handled by a variety of machines I don’t frikin know – all I know is that I synced the Flight Tracker clock earlier in the day and by launchtime it was like 40 seconds off. This will be solved when I refactor the Flight Tracker and only use JavaScript to check for timing events rather than a mix of JS and ASP, which return different time values when I ask them “what time is it now?”.

Warming up on reddit

Have been engaging more with the reddit community as well. I’ve upgraded to the new profile and other there you can see I’ve chosen to post a few select heavily-edited images that people have enjoyed viewing, they’ve all gotten above 50 and some near 100 upvotes which is pretty good all things considered. The image of the Mk4 heading out to the launchpad sparked the biggest discussion yet into the KSA, much to my enjoyment.

I’d like to take a moment to say that there are events that have already been planned months ago which will make it look like I’m trolling all the people who have been frustrated that it’s taken so long for KSA to get to space. I’m not really sorry about that or anything, I’m just saying. Big things are coming, and an event that will appear to be me snubbing my nose at everyone who wants KSA to get to space already will lead to some huge plot developments down the road & really start to bring out the story-driven aspect of the KSA.

And that’s all I’m gunna to say about that.

 

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What a week! I just started a new job and had to catch up with the action. 

It sounds like the crash was somewhat controlled, so I guess there is no question of negligence on Jen's part is there? 

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, Nightside said:

It sounds like the crash was somewhat controlled, so I guess there is no question of negligence on Jen's part is there?

no, the crash was not controlled, but the aircraft was controlled up to the point of crashing. In fact Jeb was struggling so much to keep the aircraft in control that he most likely stalled because he forgot to watch his approach speed (which is faster than the Civvie he is intrinsically used to). Pretty sure the investigation will clear him

Edited by Drew Kerman

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Operations Summary – Week of 6/19/17
 

QEF-511(C) Skims Atmosphere & Remises Plots Departure

Later today the class-C asteroid designated QEF-511 by the Asteroid Tracking Network will pass through Kerbin’s atmosphere to a depth of 52km, taking only about 2 minutes to dip in and back out while traveling at around 3.2km/s. Scientists have already placed instrument stations on the ground that contain seismic sensors and audio recorders as well as infrared detectors hoping to spot the trail as it heats up during its passage. Due to the asteroid’s orbit being over the poles, once through the atmosphere it will be out of sight from all observatories until later this weekend, and it will take almost that long as well for scientists to collect the data from the ground stations and return to Kravass, so we don’t expect to hear any news until Sunday at the earliest.

In other asteroid news, one of our resident captured asteroids Remises was caught making an unscheduled pass through Mun’s SOI this week, which greatly frustrated astronomers who had predicted this would not happen until September of this year. This is the second time their prediction proved false and they once again took a close look at the software being used to plot orbital trajectories, finding that if they searched for the earlier SOI intercept themselves, they could see it happening but the software failed to detect the event. They have since increased the bounds by which SOI events are picked up. The good news is the continued improvement of this software will only further aid us in future orbital missions. The bad news is that after leaving Mun’s SOI and being re-observed for updated orbital data new predictions show that the next SOI pass in late August will fling Remises back out into orbit around Kerbol.

Progenitor Program Pushes Towards July Mk4 Reflight

This week we received all the Mk1-A and Mk3 boosters needed to begin building the core stack that comprises the Mk4. Each of the six boosters have had their thrust decreased in order for us to see how the Mk4 flies with less and less of a TWR at lift off. The two boosters will be joined together with their fins also attached. Fin angle will be increased as the thrust lowers so that a spin rate of 100-200 RPM is maintained during the ascent for stabilization of the rocket. We also already have the fuel tanks needed to complete the 3rd stage minus the engine, so when we get our first new LF/O engine at the end of this month there will only be several days left of integration work to complete the rocket. We remain on track for a launch no earlier than 7/10.

Also announced this week was the final design for the Automated Master Control Unit that will allow us to begin programming rockets to carry out tasks during final countdown, ascent, and most importantly out in space beyond the range of regular communications when the rocket falls below the horizon. In addition to this separate part, our current MCUs will all be upgraded with a much more limited programming capacity due to their size but still will allow for several hundred lines of instructions to be stored locally.

Genesis Program Continues Civvie Science Flights & Deuce Rebuild

Another science mission was carried out this week in the Civvie using the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer instrument, coupled with a contract for crew observations that Commander Valentina used to get the altitude needed to safely fly over the water a few kilometers offshore for atmospheric data collection and be able to glide back to land should she suffer an engine failure. The Civvie will continue to be used for science missions while Genesis considers other uses for the aircraft. Speaking of which, the investigation into the failed drop of a KerBalloon last month has turned up inconclusive evidence that the mechanism used to release the balloon failed to activate the timer triggering the release of pressurized gas to inflate the envelope. Engineers are working to redesign the release mechanism to be more robust, hoping that future KerBalloon missions will once again seek support from Genesis.

The Deuce crash investigation remains ongoing. The engines that were recovered from the sea floor show they were in fine working order when the crash occurred, consistent with reports from the telemetry data. They are now looking more closely at the faulty aerodynamics that Captain Jeb reported in his complaints about large sideslip he was forced to constantly counter. While this is going on, HAB workers have fully inspected the aircraft and determined the main wings, nose cone and the engine pods with all attached parts will need to be replaced while the rest of the aircraft remains structurally sound and operational. Depending on what the crash investigation finds regarding the sideslip issue, work to the tail section may be needed as well.

KerBalloon Program Profit Continues, Contracts Stream In

The continued overall success of the KerBalloon program is leading to another month of profit for KSA despite the numerous setbacks in the Genesis and Progenitor programs. Thanks to weather and logistics this week saw just one mission, which only half succeeded due to a failure of one balloon on launch. They will attempt the launch again with a new balloon next week, while also looking to perform two launches out at sea. More contracts proposals are already waiting to be reviewed once these are completed and you can always see what contracts are still on deck via the program page.

Astronauts Carry Out Badlands Survival Exercise

Returning from space will not be an exact science the first several times we get around to trying it out. No matter where the astronauts end up landing downrange from a sub-orbital flight they will be far away from any sort of support until we can reach them. To prepare for this they have chosen the worst possible landing location, the Badlands, and are spending 3 days seeing how well they can eke out an existence with minimal supplies that would be carried aboard a small space capsule. Today was their final day and so far we have heard no word from them, which is good because if we had it would be from them returning early due to some emergency. We expect to have them back at KSC by Monday.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, and contains 729 asteroids, no new alerts.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Eclipses are a regular occurrence thanks to Mun have no inclination to its orbit, but the ones that occur at sunrise and sunset are relatively rare and the sky conditions due to being so near the horizon make them a wonderful sight to behold.

sunrise-eclipse_34278769443_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/8/17

Cruising right along. There were times though I felt that getting this week done so fast was being done at the expense of quality, as there were only 9 photos posted this week (although a good deal of supporting imagery was included as well). But a lot of the things going on were either rather routine (Kerballoon mission) or just didn’t warrant including an image. Hopefully things weren’t too boring this week given the fact that everyone just wants me to “get to space already!” :P Sometimes the reality of how I’m running things is hard even for me, I will admit, but still looking forward to exciting events coming soon.

Overcast skies

Getting better at whipping up gloomy weather, which at first was really tough to get right without a lot of work. The general procedure I use now is to adjust my Environmental Visual Enhancements properties being used with Stock Visual Enhancements to create low clouds (around 2500 for the altitude setting) and also tweaking the Layer Volume area setting to 5 from 4 to make the coverage denser. Then I take two images to get the lighting I want and merge them together while turning the sky black and white and adjusting the brightness/contrast to bring out detail in the cloud textures. Here are the two actual images combined to make the third final image:

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170607_161705-300x188.png KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170607_161251-300x188.png gloomy-weather_34996619402_o-300x188.png

The first photo was taken at midday so there are no shadows on the ground, while the second photo was taken closer to the actual time of day the image was posted for proper lighting on the buildings. So we have the ground from the first photo with the buildings and sky from the second, with the sky turned black & white. I could go a step further sometimes and take different photos of the sky to merge together for a more dynamic cloudscape.

AFBW troubles

Advanced Fly-By-Wire gave me a little bit of trouble when I went to use my X55 and found that it was identifying my stick as the throttle and my throttle as the stick. I thought okay, maybe I just plugged one in before the other in a different order than I usually do, so I unplugged them both and switched the order plugging them back in. That didn’t work, so I just went into the config file and changed the controllerIndex identifier numbers around.

Slow flights continue

I forgot to try to revert back to the old Kopernicus when I flew this past week’s Civvie flight so once again I ended up with the game lagging 2-3 real world seconds for every 1 in-game second. It didn’t end up as bad as my previous report and I was still able to land, but it was still annoying as hell. Will definitely need to get to the bottom of this because my recordings of previous flights prove this wasn’t an issue until recently.

VAB occlusion is a real deal

As this image shows, the KerBalloon was indeed rising behind the VAB from the view of the Tracking Station during this past week’s mission, and also during the Civvie mission although in that case I guesstimated when it occured since it’s harder to move the camera back to the KSC & check while flying. There will be an in-game solution to this problem in the coming weeks.

Remises orbit prediction troubles improve KSPTOT

I wasn’t coming up with the idea for the Remises orbital predictions to be false, there are still plenty of issues with KSP Trajectory Optimization Tool (Mission Architect) that need to be resolved as people continue to apply the program to various tasks. The reason for missing this last SOI hit was accurate, the program was indeed plotting the intercept but failing to recognize it was occurring. It’s great that KSA is helping KSPTOT become a more robust program, and this is only one of many examples in which it’s been doing so.

Online KSPTOT graphs?

Speaking of KSPTOT, although I’ve done searches several times in the past few months for an online viewer for Matlab graphs a search I did this past week finally turned up something hopeful in the form of plot.ly. The initial attempt by the KSPTOT author to get it to work however showed that it’s going to take a bit more effort than simply including the API and calling its conversion function. That’s disappointing but hopefully he can revisit this sometime in the future and you can all finally see graphs like this in an interactive web version that lets you zoom, pan, rotate, etc!

 

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Posted (edited)
Operations Summary - Week of 6/26/17
 

Extremis Program Explores the Kerbol System - and Beyond!

We finally announced our oft-hinted interplanetary probe program earlier today. That post contains all the information we are able to release at this time, however now that the program has been officially formed with a team dedicated to it you should start seeing a lot more updates in the coming weeks and months. This endeavor will tie closely to the outcome of our orbital program, which will be formed once we have a better idea of the delta-v requirements necessary to reach space, as from there we can easily determine how much delta-v is needed to achieve orbital velocity. Once we have this information from the Progenitor program we can lock in design specifications and move forward with our orbital program.

KerBalloon Ponders Logistical Issues

Several high-altitude missions were launched this week by KerBalloon, and all were successful. The mission north of KSC presented a bit of a problem in initially acquiring the signal of the payload after it had cleared the horizon because the VAB was actually blocking the signal (the building is shielded to protect the sensitive electronics of payloads prepared within). To get around this for future missions we will be mounting a small dish atop the VAB that will be used solely for tracking distant objects over the horizon - it will not be able to elevate, but will be able to swivel to point anywhere along the horizon. The dish should be installed by the end of July. The second mission of the week was carried out at sea with no issues, launching two separate payloads off the deck of the MSV Lymun.

We are also looking closely into purchasing our own airship. We have worked well with the charter lines so far, using them to recover hard to reach payloads, rescue crew and relay communications over the horizon, but the cost of renting their services has taken a large chunk out of the profits for KerBalloon. The fact that the program is still highly profitable (net income to date is funds.png163,885 while Genesis & Progenitor are both in the red) only serves to prove that we could earn back the investment in our own airship rapidly. however there is more to owning an airship than the initial purchase cost. In addition to any maintenance that will be required as well as hiring on a crew to run it we will have to store it. Currently airships are tucked away in underground hangars at the various cities they are based from. We do not have a structure large enough to house an airship of the size that would be suitable for our purposes. Building one isn't an issue but we have to consider any future expansion of the KSC to ensure that we are not forced to build around it - because it will be a massive building that will not move once it has been laid down. We are also looking into renting or hollowing out a berth at Umbarg.

Genesis Continues Civvie Science Flights and Deuce Investigation

This past week saw only a single Civvie flight thanks to a hydraulics cable leaking and causing Captain Jeb to gradually lose the ability to maneuver the control surfaces with ease. Thankfully he was able to make it back to KSC before the aircraft became completely unmaneuverable and performed a great non-standard approach over the bay in order to get back on the ground as quickly as possible once the problem became apparent. The aircraft has since been repaired and is ready to be redeployed once the weather is agreeable for an atmosphere sampling mission out over the West Shore Desert. Val will rotate into the cockpit for that mission.

Investigation into the crash of the Deuce is wrapping up and we expect to hear a final verdict sometime next week. All mechanical issues have been ruled out after inspection of the engines showed they were operating normally at the time of impact. The fuel system issue that was identified during the ground trial was also determined not to be a factor. Interviews with the HAB & ground crew, as well as Captain Jeb, have all been conducted and the aircraft's short maintenance history has been examined. C7 engineers are now focusing on the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft, given that Jeb reported a large amount of sideslip in flight and a left-roll tendency at stick neutral. It is suspected the tail design may need some reworking.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 736 asteroids, 9 updated observations and no new alerts.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

The team that was observing yesterday’s transit of Minmus returned to Kravass from the Great Desert where they setup a temporary observatory for the event and we now have an updated transit composite. The desert outpost was done not only for a high chance of clear skies but because it was the place where they could see the transit for the longest length of time. Even still, they won’t be able to see the entire event. The next transit of Minmus is January of 2019, although if anyone goes above 40°N latitude they will be able to see Minmus transit again in late August of this year.

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From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/17/17

Casual gaming with GTA Online goes not as planned

So for the past few months Uncharted 4 multiplayer has been my casual gaming choice for something to do when I'm done working KSP stuff for the day and just need to wind down a bit more before trying to get some sleep. I have just a teeny bit of gamer rage when playing competitive games and after destroying my second PS4 controller I figured it was time to call it quits :P I decided to hop back into GTA Online since another friend of mine had it for PC. I created my new character, logged on and played through some of the tutorial missions and was literally just about to jump into a Time Trial to start earning cash and reputation points to begin building my career when all of the sudden I started receiving $50,000 every second along with like 1,000 RP - and I was like "what the hell, no, no, no, no, no!" but of course I couldn't make myself log out. I watched as people in the text chat cried out in joy and thankfulness for the modder heaping cash & RP upon us all and was like "well, maybe this isn't so bad?" Finally after accruing north of $10M and like level 60 I decided enough was enough and logged off. Then I went searching online for whether or not I was going to be banned in the next few days. Verdict: No. Turns out Rockstar will probably reset my cash accounts but I'll keep my level and anything I purchased before then. So I logged back in and started to go on a hardcore shopping spree, and along the way I managed to land in a session that got hit by more money and RP to where I had like $25M and now I'm level 90ish. Needless to say when my friend finally logged on the next day I took him straight to my $7.6M yacht parked off the coast and he was like "WHAT THE love DUDE?! Didn't you just start??" The next day when we were online together another modder came into our session and started dumping $$$ and RP - while at the same time doing things like spawning us all atop Mt Chilead with every possible weapon given to us (where of course a huge brawl would break out). Sometimes we'd be floating in the air all doing push ups, or like a few dozen rocket cars would spawn overhead and kill anyone they landed on, the rest would get in and fly off. One time we spawned in downtown LS with cars floating up off the streets then crashing back down kinda like the terraformer effect in Man of Steel. It was pretty nuts. At the end of it all I had north of $60M and I'm like level 124. So far R* has taken back only $25M-ish and worried they would take back more I spent the next two days buying up everything I possibly could and modding the crap out of every car in all my 5 properties...

So yea. I expected to take it slow in GTA Online and ended up binging the crap out of it these past few days in order to set myself up with all the money I got. If you're wondering why T2 is shutting down modding services, this is why. I can't really say I blame them - the cheating was rampant. Anyways, that's why it took so long for me to get this week's work done. Good times...

Heat problems

Two days this past week were north of 90°F and I don't have air conditioning here. I do have good ventilation, so if it's 95 outside it is 95 in here and not any hotter but 95 is still 95 and way damn hot. I noticed when playing GTA even during the evenings after a while my framerates would tank because my GPU was shutting itself partially down to prevent a literal meltdown. One of the days I had planned to work until it got too hot then head to the mall to cool off and see Wonder Woman. Well, I didn't even get to where I was ready to switch off my computer before it abruptly shut itself off. Yikes. Thankfully I managed not to lose any data in the apps I had running at the time. That was 5 days ago now and since then it's been running perfectly fine now that the temps are back to below 85°F. This will be my first full summer in my new place, so I'm still waiting to decide if I really need to shell out a few hundred bucks some A/C or not. May be able to just get by with one of those simple ice bucket coolers you can build yourself.

"Hydraulic leak"

Yea so I was flying in the Civvie and I have a new mod installed (PhysicalTimeRatioViewer) that lets me see what fraction of real time the game is running in. As the flight progressed I saw the percentage drop steadily from 98% all the way down to 50% and sometimes lower, which meant the game was running 1 second for every 2 real world seconds and getting worse. Hence, the Civvie developed a leak in its hydraulic system and Jeb had to cut the mission short. Now that I know it's an issue that worsens as the game is running I will switch back to the previous Kopernicus version for the next flight and see if the problem persists.

Financial readjustments

There is a reason you can only view the previous month's finance sheets via KSA's Google Sheets page and it's not just because each sheet already includes the prior months, but because I tend to go back and tweak income/expense numbers sometimes and no way am I going to make sure multiple versions available online are all consistent! In this case I went and added deployment costs for all the UTVs that went out with a KerBalloon attached to them - because I keep great records I was able to go back and do this all the way through last year where applicable. I also adjusted some contract payouts for high-altitude KerBalloons that fell short of their maximum altitude. I use the formula ((maxAlt - contractMinAlt) / (failAlt - contractMinAlt)) * payout to determine what fraction of the full payment is actually given to the KSA depending on how high the balloon got relative to the altitude when the contract becomes valid.

An additional formula I use is for deploying vessels from the HAB/VAB: ((l*w*h)/t)*partCount, which is all data you can get from the Engineers Report down on the stock toolbar. It's a nice formula because if a craft is big but light and made of few parts it won't be much more expensive than a craft that is smaller but way more complex (more parts). Small and light vessels are also more expensive than small and heavy vessels because you figure they use advanced alloys or miniaturization to keep size & weight down. It's also entirely independent of the actual cost of all the parts that make up the vessel, which is something that is only paid once to build it.

Full timestamps on mission report tweet timelines

OMG this is something that makes me so happy, because looking back at the mission report timelines I love how they fill the page and are so easy to create but I have hated for so long the fact that you can barely see the timestamp on each tweet. Moreso, the timestamp only includes the date. I want people to be able to get a proper sense of how long events are taking place from one tweet to the next. I had to hack in some JS code to get it done, but it only took me about 3 hours of work to get it all figured out once the official reply from twitter was "sorry, you're on your own but here try this..."

Yes, there was much fist-pumping to be had.

Let the game decide

Just want to say that yes, there are times I just sit and time warp and watch the skies to see if the clouds clear up and let me launch. I don't do it all the time but if I don't need an event to go one way or another then I do let the game decide for me.

Worbille

Yes, this is a mash of Orville and Wilbur :)

 

Edited by Drew Kerman

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Posted (edited)
Operations Summary – Week of 7/3/17
Imgur Gallery of Weekly Images
 

Progeny Mk4 Makes Ready for Return to Flight

The third Mk4 has been fully integrated today in the VAB after the 3rd stage was added yesterday. The rocket has been tweaked in several ways since the second Mk4 was launched at the end of the May. The most obvious change is the lengthening of the 3rd stage by adding an additional payload truss. This was done to both increase the effectiveness of the fins that are now lower on the rocket and allow us to add two more batteries so the rocket can stay powered up throughout its entire flight from launch to coast to re-entry and splashdown, gathering precious data the whole way. Another change was the bottom booster had its thrust reduced to just 81% so the rocket leaves the launch base at an initial 6Gs of acceleration. Coupled with the second stage booster’s thrust reduced to 52% we are hoping the rocket will see stresses no greater than 40kPa as it ascends under power from both engines. Finally, the fins on the second and third stages have had their pitch increased by 0.1° to account for the lower thrust. The added weight from the extra truss, batteries and fairings has increased the mass of the rocket from 1.764t to 1.789t and decreased the Δv from 2.543 km/s to 2.273 km/s. However we’re pretty sure that anything above 2 km/s shot nearly straight up should be able to reach space and the Mk4 second flight had a projected apokee of over 100 km.

On Monday the rocket will get its final checkouts and, assuming all goes well, will be rolled out and mounted to the launch base after 3rd sunrise. It will then stand ready for launch the following day. Everyone is extremely excited!

Genesis Continues Science Flights, Sets New Records

The week kicked off with a science flight by Commander Valentina, who rotated into the cockpit and continued the mission Captain Jebediah had to abort last week due to a hydraulic leak. To gather atmospheric sample data from the West Shore Desert required her to perform two separate passes of the region, as it was too far west to be within sight of our ground station at Umbarg so data could be transmitted while she flew over the area. The entire flight lasted 2:06:28 and covered 680 km, which put Val back on the Agency records for both continuous flight distance and time. For now, the maximum flight time a Civvie can endure is limited by the length of the day, not its fuel tank, as there are as yet no facilities either here or at KGA to allow planes to takeoff or land after dark. The Air Safety Administration has frustratingly been dragging its heels on setting up night flying regulations for aircraft and ground facilities. As a former Lead Policymaker for the ASA, Flight Director Lanalye is no stranger to such things but is nevertheless starting to get fed up with her former colleagues.

The weekend also ended with another science flight as Captain Jeb took a Civvie out over the Western Mountains to observe an area for Sean’s Cannery. The weather was barely within minimums for the mission, with a cloud ceiling dropping as low as 3km. ASA VFR flight rules stipulate 150m of separation from clouds, so Jeb could climb no higher than 2.85 km over an area where the land itself could rise up that high, or higher. The flight was approved by C7 Aerospace Division although Flight Director Lanalye raised an objection to the Civvie being out of contact with KSC behind the mountains as there was no time to bring in a comms relay airship. Thankfully Jeb was able to navigate around the mountains to the location and back without any problems, but Lanalye has still logged a formal complaint stating that an emergency situation would have left Jeb with no means of alerting KSC.

Along the route to his observation area, Jeb was also able to fly past a possible launch site for a future KerBalloon mission. He took some photos of the area so the Kerballoon team could determine whether their Utility Task Vehicles could access the site to launch the balloon.

KerBalloon Tests New Science Instrument

After several days of delay waiting for ideal conditions, a high-altitude balloon was launched from KSC to test the new negative gravioli instrument designed to measure the changing force of gravity around an object the size of a moon or planet. Cameras were also attached to the payload as it’s been a while since we’ve had any photos from the upper atmosphere. After recovery and analysis Head of R&D Wernher Von Kerman announced today that the instrument performed as expected, measuring the decrease of gravity as the balloon carried the instrument higher and higher. The instrument will be a passenger aboard a future Mk4 sub-orbital flight.

Two other missions occurred this past week for KerBalloon. A low-altitude balloon launch was carried out in the Highlands north of KSC and recovered without incident. A high-altitude balloon launch out at sea was scrubbed due to sea conditions being at the far end of viable for the recovery craft to operate safely in the water. It probably would have turned out fine, but Specialist Bob and his crew did not see any reason to take the chance, even though the contract deadline was that day. We regret the loss of income but we would regret even more the loss of life.

KSC Activity Day Welcomes Staff Family & Friends

This past Saturday we held an even larger public opening of the Kerbal Space Center for KSA/C7 staff families and close friends. Many activities and exhibits were setup throughout the campus to let kerbs explore what was going on around KSC and learn more about space and science along the way. Although the weather started out crummy it cleared up and allowed outdoor activities like water rocket launches as well. For several weeks now upper-level KSC management have been working out details to open the Center to the public on weekends when normal operations are shut down, or at least largely scaled back. Over the past few months the goings-on here have attracted more and more attention from kerbs, and there are no other above-ground tourist attractions yet in existence. We are still unsure when KSC will be open to the public or even if it will, but this past weekend was a great test nonetheless.

ATN Database & KSA Financials Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 755 asteroids, 15 updates and no new alerts issued.

Head of Finances Mortimer Kerman has also closed the books on a profitable June, you can see our income & expenses broken down by month, program and vessel in this report.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Bob & Val finally got the opportunity to view and photograph a double-shadow transit of Eeloo and Slate over Sarnus, which is nearly a month past opposition but still more than large enough to resolve the transit. Tekto hangs out far to the lower right, its inclined orbit will be aligned properly to the sun to begin dropping a shadow across Sarnus’ north pole in late September of this year, although it will be a month too late to also still see Eeloo and Slate shadow transiting together.

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From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/22/17

Yup, back in the saddle. This was a good week, went pretty smoothly. I’m getting close to a major plot point so that’s helping drive me towards what will soon be coming.

Part Commander Memory Leak

Found out what was making my flights slow to a crawl these past few missions. I keep meticulous records of pretty much everything the KSA does so it was easy to look at the video of a flight on May 25th and see everything was fine during landing, then look at the video of the next flight on 5/31 and see that landing was done at around 40% real time. My first attempt at solving the issue was, as I mentioned in previous Desk Notes, to swap out Kopernicus for a new version. Why? Because the installation log at the bottom of my mod list told me that was the only mod that was updated between the 25th and the 31st. When that didn’t make any difference I knew there was something else I was missing. What else had I changed in the days between those two flights? I couldn’t think of anything. Then I remembered to check what I had done differently during the flights themselves, and looking at the videos of the 25th and the 31st landings I finally noticed that I had replaced the Part Access Window for the flaps with a window from Part Commander. The reason for this was because with the Part Commander window I could size it so only the flap setting was visible, which was the only data I was interested in. This gave me the room to open a second PAW for both engines when flying a Deuce. I tested in game and sure enough, when the Part Commander window was open KSP’s RAM usage would tick upwards constantly. This is thankfully an easy fix – just don’t use Part Commander until it is patched up or only show the window during takeoff/landing when I actually need to see my flap position. Even if the window is made visible, the RAM leakage stops as soon as it is closed.

Funny story though, is that I figured this out after flying the longest Civvie mission ever to gather atmospheric readings from the desert near KSC. By the end of that flight I was literally flying from the map view since that would allow the sim to run at 100% real time (that was another clue, BTW). Thankfully the KSC runway running east to west means you can use latitude to align with the runway, so I flew all the way in from the map view just with that information (Val used her avionics) and altitude readouts from Kerbal Engineer Redux. I mean, I swapped out to flight view a few times just to make sure I wasn’t about to run into the higher ground near the KSC on this approach, but I think the time fraction in flight view was down to like 12% real time so it was impossible to actually fly. Still, I made a pretty decent approach and didn’t completely destroy the aircraft on landing:

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The game refused to load out of the flight scene. it didn’t crash, but it just sat there with the Loading graphic endlessly running and I had to ultimately task kill it. Fortunately the SFS file is always the first thing updated on a scene switch so I didn’t lose any progress there.

That bolide was the real deal

Most of the tweets you could consider to be “filler”, like this one about a bolide over the north Kerblantic, are actually driven by in-game events (or are actually part of the process of setting up later plot points – pay attention!!). In this case the game generated an asteroid to be discovered that was already within Kerbin’s SOI and on a collision course with the planet. It was a Class A so I just had it burn up on entry, but that’s the actual location where it hit. I am indeed keeping track of all asteroids that impact Kerbin, many of which kerbalkind have not been aware of due to their remote impacts and the general lack of surface population to witness them (seismographs have played a past role in detecting some of these).

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Subtle lighting effects

Check out this before/after shot:

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170618_061619-300x188.png KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170618_0616129-300x188.png

This was done by taking one photo, then upping the Ambient Light and taking another, then merging them to keep the lit building faces and make the unlit ones appear darker in shadow. It’s subtle, but I think adds a great deal of depth to the image and a sense of “global illumination” that the game lacks from having no light bouncing around the scene. I do this to varying extents in lots of photos depending on the situation.

Yea that VAB really can get in the way

Not only are data transmissions tight-beam signals but the VAB itself would be shielded anyone since you want to be able to test payload electronics without any outside interference. There really will be an antenna dish that will be visible on the roof in the near future thanks to Kerbal Konstructs

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Found that other in-flight issue with Hullcam

Mentioned previously that my Hullcam VDS views could be messed up when looking through the cameras and I would only be able to see inside the aircraft. Well I finally realized it wasn’t from doing a Quicksave As (although for some reason it still switches to a hullcam view after I accept the quicksave name for some reason) but instead it was from focusing on the part with Camera Focus Changer. The author already knows about the issue and is working to try and fix it.

Anyways….

I’m going to go play some GTA Online now. Been a week since I logged on last night but still have boku bucks from the mod craziness that went down last week (I finally got fed up with all the negative Take Two posts on KSP reddit and ranted a bit about it) so I bought a bunker and mobile command center. Then when I was out of my bunker with the command center I left the cab and went to the trailer to play with the turret I also installed and someone came by and blew up my car parked nearby, so I blew him up with the turret (Wheeee!) but then when I exited the trailer I ended up like 50 feet from the thing and when I ran back the other guy had already respawned and was running for my cab and I was too slow to arm a weapon and only got a few shots at him before he drove off and over me. Yes, I got run over by my own damn mobile command center. Laugh it up. I have since found and changed the cab permissions to Friends only :P

COME AT ME BRAHS

(I’m Gaiiden727 if anyone wants to send a Social Club friend request)

 

Edited by Drew Kerman

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What happened at the KSA today? 

I was following the rocket launch (with my phone on my lap at work). after the rocket got to space the KSA website died! 

What happened?!? 

Did the first stage fall back on the KSA server? Did an untracked asteroid take everyone out? Did the monolith do something monolithic?

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Nightside said:

 

What happened at the KSA today? 

I was following the rocket launch (with my phone on my lap at work). after the rocket got to space the KSA website died! 

What happened?!? 

Did the first stage fall back on the KSA server? Did an untracked asteroid take everyone out? Did the monolith do something monolithic?

 

I had the same problem, here's a pic:

nEjxp3m.jpg

is that the same you got?

Edited by StupidAndy

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lets ask @Drew Kerman!

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@Nightside @StupidAndy thanks for the posts, was nice to see people coming here to talk about the event on Tuesday :) Will have a full report up in an hour now that KSA is coming back online (website is accessible again, ops services are still down)

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Posted (edited)
Operations Summary – Week of 7/10/17
Images from the Week
 

Reaching Space and the "Monolith Incident"

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20160605_050611-e1465103462237-239x300.png During the ascent of the third Progeny Mk4 earlier this week, the Progenitor program at last succeeded after months of operation when the rocket broke through 70km ASL at L+1m44s and officially entered into space above Kerbin, heading for an apokee of nearly 135km. Cheers and applause had barely gotten underway when all of the sudden arcs of electricity began to shoot from all the consoles in Launch Control and the Tracking Station. Kerbs still outside reported a huge ball of plasma around the Monolith. The scene inside quickly dissolved into barely-organized chaos as several severely-burned operators were tended to by emergency medical personnel that arrived shortly after the arcing had ceased after several seconds of crazy sparking. Elsewhere around the KSC campus similar reports were made, although at the time of launch no other building had as much electronics in operation as Launch Control and the Tracking Station. After nearly two hours of tending to injuries (no deaths, thankfully) and putting out small fires here and there, an overall assessment was finally begun - which is when all hell broke loose again. Thankfully with most active electronics destroyed during the first event there wasn't as much widespread damage done, lots of melting components but no serious arcing or fires, however new equipment brought online to help determine the overall situation of the KSC was knocked offline. Repair work was begun again from a rapidly dwindling supply of spare parts when roughly two hours later a third event struck, and all recovery efforts were put on hold for 6 hours in case the events continued to repeat.

Now nearly 00:00 UTC, during this time we had been able to send and receive a courier to Umbarg via the access tunnel and the report came back of similar timing to events that included huge bolts of lightning coming out of cavern walls and melting power lines, exploding transformers and in some horrible cases rendering kerbals into instantaneous piles of ash. We had hoped to receive some aid from the city but it turned out they had their hands full. MSV Tongjess and MSV Lymun were both able to lend supplies, but the need for aid was still extreme. Commander Valentina volunteered to take a Civvie aircraft up to Kravass, the next-closest city. Thankfully one aircraft had still been in the Horizontal Assembly Building, which is heavily shielded, and was able to start up and take her aloft, which she did at 4th sunrise (01:16 UTC ). At best speed it takes a Civvie roughly an hour to reach Kravass and spending just shy of an hour there Val got back 3 hours later just as the sun was setting. Unfortunately the tale was the same as Umbarg.

By the following day, the 12th, we had decided the events were over and had begun to get basic systems and utilities up and running again after repairing our emergency generators with the last of our spare parts. Shortly after second sunrise at 13:34 UTC an airship en route to Umbarg stopped by with kerbs from Sheltered Rock and Ockr wondering why all communications with us, Kravass and Umbarg had been lost. To our relief, we learned that both cities on the other end of the continent had remained unaffected. We accepted some aid supplies from them and they continued on to Umbarg, apparently another airship was sent to Kravass as well.

More good news for us to share is that the Mk4 third stage survived re-entry and was recovered 135km downrange by Lymun! We never were relying on any command to be sent to the vessel to deploy its chutes, which were armed at 8km during ascent and set to a pressure sensor. It is in pretty bad shape, the engine is almost completely destroyed and the fuel tanks crushed but they did a great job absorbing an obviously higher than intended impact with the water and the payload bays are still intact. We'll have much more analysis once we have a chance to go over all the data from the rocket's TDU and what we can recover here at KSC.

As for the Monolith - the evidence we have at this time it was in some way responsible includes the eyewitness reports and the roughly 250m diameter patch of scorched ground that now surrounds it. Thankfully all researchers were here at KSC to watch the launch and no pilgrims/worshipers were gathered around it at the time. The kerbs that stopped by from Sheltered Rock and Ockr also relayed information that they had picked up large amounts of radio static from the upper atmosphere that coincided with the timing of events here. What exactly the Monolith did will require a lot of investigation to determine if this was a deliberate act to sabotage our attempts to reach space or an unintended side-effect of its true purpose for which we happened to be unfortunately vulnerable.We have spent yesterday restoring as much of our vital equipment as possible with what parts we were able to scrounge up, salvage or re-purpose. We can communicate again via this website and our media accounts, but it will take until next week until we are able to restore our operations services (Flight Tracker and Crew Roster). Beyond that we are expecting additional airships from Ockr and Sheltered Rock but with the need to also support Umbarg and Kravass getting things patched up here will still be a slow process. We will see how next week goes.

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/27/17

So let's get the potentially obvious question out of the way: Am I trolling all the followers who have hated how long it's taken KSA to get to space by finally reaching space only to be knocked back yet again? No :) Okay, well am I doing this because I'm still only 2.5 weeks ahead of things and want more lead time? That's certainly a convenient outcome of this whole episode but again, no. The reasoning behind what happened is much, much more complex and I can't really explain any further because things will now unfold over the next 2-3 years based off this event. Stick around, and you'll get to see how it all plays out on the grand scale (I have big plot beats defined but to be honest even I'm not sure how it'll all turn out!).

Edit 7/13: I originally only planned to stay offline for two days from the time of the Incident but I didn't see enough people wondering what happened so I was able to go back and re-schedule things for three days without too much trouble. Mwahah. This also was better though as I otherwise would have been working the day KSA came back online.

Okay so moving on then, here are some things about this past week's rocket launch that you may find interesting.

Rocket mount photo

I've been gearing up for this for a while now. I've always been a bit annoyed at myself for never actually showing a rocket being mounted because I go to great lengths to show just about every other aspect of operations around the KSC. I decided there was no way I was setting up for this historic launch without a mounting pic, and besides I had run out of other things to show that I hadn't done already. There was a small hint that this was perhaps coming during the last launch where you may have seen the mount vehicle rolling back towards the garages in this photo.

The mount vehicle is constructed with Konstruction parts and an Akita rover cab for the operator. Being an open cab I either had to view it from the rear so I could stick a generic kerbal in the seat or use one of the astronauts - Bill was of course a perfect fit so that worked. Unfortunately the vehicle I had built and used in the previous photo was not found in any of my game saves! But, that's why I have all my vital KSP files backed up with CrashPlan, which also does revision backups so I was able to look back through multiple Auto-Saved Ship.craft files to find the one of the mounting vessel and properly save it as its own craft file. Seriously, back up your excrements people. This is just one of many times CrashPlan has saved me.

Unfortunately the grasping claw does not fully articulate and relies on kinetic joint movement for some of its armatures, which is a complex way of saying I couldn't maneuver it to actually pickup the rocket in-game from the bed of the carry vehicle. Also, when dropped onto the carry vehicle the rocket would eventually slide far enough off that the Kraken would appear and fling them both into the air. Picking it up off the ground was a no-go also. So what I did instead was just pose the claw in the flight scene, take a screenshot of the robotics window that has all the movement values, and then programmed that position back in the SPH. Then I just attached and properly offset a Mk4 vessel after merging it into the craft file.

The space center crew being out on the pad is just taking photos of them in the VAB then masking out and layering them onto the external shot. Unfortunately the workers do not have set animations, so I have to spend a good deal of time following them around with WasdEditorCamera Continued and wait for them to act the way I want while also being sure to capture them from the right angle. It must have taken me about 15 minutes to get that damn butt pick, following random workers around hoping they would do it, only to see the one in the background doing it! The kerb behind the carry vehicle looking up was just a bit of detaching his head from his neck and tilting it back. Also, it's not as visible as I thought it would be because I had to make him smaller than originally captured, but the marshal's vest does in fact say "KSC" rather than "KSP". Shadows were manually drawn to really make them blend into the scene, as well as some lighting adjustments.

Finally, I messed up a bit on having the fuel tankers out on the pad - they really had no reason to be there (they went out with the carry vehicle last time but that was because we were going straight for launch from mounting) but I liked how they crowded up the scene and had already placed a kerb walking away from them and the two standing there talking when I realized my error. So I came up with the excuse of tanking the rocket to ensure the extra weight of the added payloads would not cause undue stress on the launch rail. Ehhh, a bit thin for like 23kg of extra mass but whatever.

Launch delay

I realized there was no way I actually wanted to get up for a launch early in the morning, but why wouldn't the KSA want to launch the rocket at the earliest opportunity? So I planned to have a weather hold during the first launch attempt. Then I realized I wanted to try to rope as many people into watching this launch bomb out as possible with KSA going offline, and setting it up to have an ambiguous delay would mean anyone that did actually bother to tune in probably wouldn't stick around to see if it launched that day cycle or got scrubbed to the next. So I just had the MSV have a scheduling problem so I could move the launch back with enough time for people to see the change and maybe still tune in.

I still had a weather delay, because I decided to see what the game would put up for cloud coverage on that day and it turned out that it did actually clear up within a few minutes of the actual launch time so I let that play out.

Can you see the planes?

Yea they are barely noticeable but they are there, the two Civvies parked on the tarmac outside the SPH. I originally forgot to include them in the shot from the bunker cam and wasn't sure if they would be a noticeable. Turns out, not really noticeable at all. But better safe than sorry. I have a reputation for detail to uphold you know.

Terminal count

This is just a simple kOS script coupled with the script I use to record the timing of manual events so I can recreate the launch as close as possible for video recording. I've discovered a while ago that launching manually via the space bar and launching via kOS script for some reason can lead to extremely different results during the initial flight phase. I have no idea why, because it's not a timing issue, it's the way the rocket leaves the launch sticks that is noticeably different for both methods of launching. Very strange. Anyways since KSA has talked more about the upcoming Progeny Mk5 automation I felt now was a good time to introduce the AFCS, which will become a legit aspect of the automation control scripts I'll be publishing as they are developed.

The actual launch

It only took me two tries to get this launch done - getting better! I would have had it in one, but for some reason FAR's windows have taken to hiding themselves randomly and I can't figure out why. It did it during both launches and the second time I was just like "screw it" as I have other sources of similar data to turn to if needed. I also had to go back through the launch recording to determine when I did all my manual staging because since I wasn't decoupling the fairings on this launch I moved them into their own staging group separate from the chute, but that added another stage to the stack and my recording script was looking for specific stage numbers to recognize when an event happened. Not a huge deal but just one of those examples where small things can trip you up in unexpected ways.

Also, I didn't think about it until I started getting into post-launch activities but - I should have quicksaved while I was in space!!

That eclipse shot

So first I took a regular photo of the eclipse with Scatterer, then I used Kopernicus to disable the atmosphere around Kerbin:


@Kopernicus:FINAL
{
  @Body[Kerbin]
  {
    @Atmosphere
    {
      %enabled = false
    }
  }
}

I made sure to also remove Realistic Atmospheres since that edits the same node. Then it was just a matter of taking another shot at the same time (using HyperEdit to set the time to the same second) and merging them together in Paint.NET. This part was a little difficult as I had to find the right combination of layer ordering, transparency and masking to get a good effect. Then I also had to copy one of the brighter stars and adjust their hues to make Eve and Moho (whose locations were visible in part thanks to Distant Object Enhancement, although they are loaded as models & visible also). Will definitely be using this method again in the coming months, as the sun will move to new areas of the sky.

And that's all I have to say about all of that!

Yea it's back to slow going for a while but I promise I know how to pace things and all this slowness in recent months will be met with lots of fast-paced missions and more launches soon to come!

 

Edited by Drew Kerman

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Operations Summary – Week of 7/17/17
 

KSC Recovery Continues in Wake of Monolith Incident

After working overtime this past weekend senior staff met on Monday to present plans for bringing various areas of the KSC back up to full operational status. The majority of the damage was done to active electronics as currents spiked and fried out pretty much anything that was drawing power at the time the Monolith… did whatever it did. There was still damage also done to sensitive electronics equipment in any unshielded labs and buildings. Hardest hit were the Tracking Station and Launch Control buildings as they were in full operation for the flight of the Progeny Mk4. While it’s been estimated to take at least 3 weeks to get the KSC back up to supporting operations for the KSA and C7, primary systems are mostly all back up and running with final work being done over the next few days to at least allow support of Genesis and KerBalloon missions to commence once again. Assembly work in the VAB and HAB is also expected to begin picking up once more by the end of next week. The first full week of August should see mostly everything back up and running, although redundancies will still be missing in some non-critical areas.

Progenitor Plans One-Two Launch for Comeback Flights

We’ve gotten caught up on the recent Mk4 launch with a full timeline on its vessel page and telemetry data posted online. We are still missing the launch video and flight analysis, which will come next week. After that, we have the two new LF/O engines as of today and plan to integrated them once VAB assembly work starts up again. Two booster stacks are already assembled and waiting for their 3rd stage, both will be assembled together and launched within two days of one another, assuming weather allows it. Each rocket will carry a new set of instruments to gather more scientific data from beyond the atmosphere, and each rocket will also have a decreased thrust.

What about cameras in the payload? Well… it’s complicated. We’ll discuss it more once we’ve worked out a solution. It’s not a priority as far as Wernher is concerned, but our nascent PR department has been bugging him about it.

Monolith Investigations Turn Up More Questions

After waiting several more days to see if the Monolith would do anything else, scientists began to cautiously approach the structure, starting by probing the 500m diameter ring of scorched ground around it for toxic compounds and radiation. Finding nothing but charred grass, they moved in closer and received no subsonic vibrations typical of the Monolith’s “keep back” behavior, which was also lacking in the days leading up to what scientists can only describe right now as a “discharge”. The biggest difference instruments have picked up is that the object is now extremely cold, even colder than the surrounding air, whereas in the days before its discharge sensors nearby had detected increasing levels of infrared radiation. Work has only just begun in such close proximity to the Monolith, and a security perimeter has been setup to keep back anyone wanting to visit it for the foreseeable future.

Additional investigation is underway at Kravass and Umbarg by local scientists to determine what caused the massive energy spikes that threw huge bolts of electricity around the interior of the large hollowed-out spaces. Many of the arcs grounded themselves on power structures, but many were also seen connecting between seemingly empty spots on the walls, floor and ceiling of the caverns. In these locations the surface of the rock literally exploded with the force of the released energy, which also killed and wounded many kerbs. Inspection of these sites has revealed crystals embedded into the rock that keologists have never seen before. Excavations of the areas have only just begun.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 788 asteroids, 17 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Due to the 6° inclination of Minmus, it and Mun do not often cross paths in the sky from a single location, even though the opportunity for such an event comes every 7 days or so. But then you have to figure that Mun is not always up in the sky over KSC, or any other place on Kerbin except the poles

munminmus-occultation_34760220974_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 6/30/17

Shout out to SpannerMonkey(smce) from the forums for whipping me up the Monolith scorched ground texture when I asked him for help. Be sure to check out his great scenery mods!

Moving right along then, not much to cover this week just slowly building out the details of what really happened with the Monolith. I’m going to cruise through several more days to set me up with a 3wk lead + a few days to compensate for work I’ll be doing over the 4th of July holiday that’ll keep me from making progress. Hopefully then I can go back to banging out a day of operations and then turning my attention to other things in need of work, like the dynamic orbital system display I’ve mentioned a few times before. Not to mention getting started on the entire Tracker/Roster rewrite. Speaking of which…

KSA Server crash

Doing this was harder than I thought, because I wanted it to happen in a way that didn’t seem like it was me obviously trying to present the Flight Tracker and Crew Roster as being offline. So, I didn’t want to just temporarily remove the pages from the server and have the links 404. My initial attempt was exactly as you may have seen it during the event (if not, here click this link) but if you right-clicked and selected “View Page Source” in your browser you would immediately see that all it was was a page set to display a timeout message after 15 seconds. It was pretty thinly-veiled and you can all take it as a compliment that I consider you to be a smart audience who could potentially see right through that. So, I had to somehow make the site not load and show the timeout message without tipping my hand that it was a deliberately-scripted event. How I did it might still be obvious to a web developer who took the time to actually look through a couple thousand lines of code but I simply hid all the other page elements in a div element so everything would load as normal, it just wouldn’t show up. Looking at the source, you’d see thousands of lines of the usual code, with no ASP errors and no JavaScript errors showing up in the debug window either. I even stuck the actual message string as a variable in one of the JS libraries so people couldn’t search for the timeout window text within the source to try and figure out where it was being generated in an attempt to backtrack what was happening. Hopefully all my efforts were for naught because no one bothered to try to pick apart what was going on, but if anyone did further than I hope they came away thinking it was something really happening somehow.

The WordPress site going offline was way easier, just downloading and installing an “Under Construction” plugin that let me switch off the site and display a cool message in theme with the site. I got lucky it was the first plugin I tried, although not all luck since it was top-rated.

I also deleted all the KSP forum cookies so that the next time I visited the site it wouldn’t automatically log me in and I could select the “Sign in anonymously” option which let me still access the forums to reference stuff (like the 3D system model) without tipping people off that I was still around. Yep, sneaky!

Aaaannd that’s pretty much it. Like I said, not much to cover, but there will be more next week!

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 7/24/17
 

Progenitor Wraps Up Latest Mk4 Mission, Sets New Launch Dates

All the data from the last Mk4 mission is finally available, from the mission report to the flight timeline to the telemetry data to the launch video to the launch analysis report.

The Mk4 has two more launches scheduled:

After which we will transition over to the automated Progeny Mk5 to begin working on the software that will guide the rockets in our orbital program.

Kerballoon & Genesis Return to Missions

Both programs ran a single mission this past week, which is the most we could support while also working to rebuild the infrastructure here at KSC. KerBalloon launched a low-altitude payload that was recovered successfully. They used a new balloon-lofted radio antenna to communicate with KSC rather than using a relay airship. This is an effective cost-saving measure for missions relatively nearby where terrain blocks line of sight – going further over the horizon will still require a relay airship with more powerful communications equipment. Genesis flew a science mission that gathered atmospheric samples from two locations and coming home from that mission Captain Jebediah was able to give us our first aerial look at the giant burn scar left by the Monolith’s discharge. Speaking of which…

Monolith Investigations Continue

Scientists are being carefully guarded in terms of what information they are releasing regarding the ongoing close study of the Monolith. So far all we know is that they have been able to approach and setup instruments right next to the object for the first time. No one has yet been allowed to walk up and touch it or even place instruments on the surface itself but we hear that is what’s being worked up to. Everyone is being extremely cautious, not knowing if the object has served its purpose and expired or is simply awaiting another event to trigger it to do something else perhaps more devastating.

Keologists studying the crystal formations in the caverns of Kravass and Umbarg are still carefully excavating the rock around them in several sites that were chosen for their ease of accessibility – many more lie on the ceilings and high up on the walls of the caverns. They are also relying on eyewitness reports from kerbs to help identify crystal cluster pairs that arced current between them to see if there is any difference between the two. As with the scientists around the Monolith, they are taking every precaution that can be thought of to avoid triggering some other event.

A third team has been assembled as well this past week to see if they can use data from the other two teams as well as their own investigations to try and determine why Ockr and Sheltered Rock were not affected.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 830 asteroids, 7 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Here is how Duna appears with Ike at the same magnification during opposition, when it is closer & near conjunction, when it can be over 5.5x further away

duna-ike-opposition-vs-conjunction_35393650780_o.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 7/9/17

Have already finished up Sat and Sun, so I am now officially back to a full 3-week lead time after losing a few days thanks to working a fireworks show over the 4th of July. This is great because tomorrow I can just bang out one day of ops and then finally finally get back to working on some Flight Tracker stuff. First up will be the new 3D orbital diagrams followed by a more accurate day/night terminator for the dynamic map. The author of the new Leaflet library says he may have free time again next month, so once those two Flight Tracker features are integrated I will be pre-gaming some map output data then diving into the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster rewrite.

Mk4 stuff

I fudged the telemetry data a little bit to cause the 3rd stage to impact at a higher speed. Of course, changing the velocity meant I also had to change the vertical speed, and the amount of altitude gone each second, and the fact that it would hit the water sooner… thankfully since everything is in an Excel spreadsheet fiddling with the numbers isn’t too hard.

Getting the launch video was relatively painless and only took two takes, now that I have a checklist to make sure I don’t forget to do anything when setting up. The first take was ruined because in editing the kOS script used to refly the rocket I forgot to leave in a timer to keep the script active during the entire 3rd stage burn – if the script ends after pushing the throttle to 100% it will end up being cut back to 0% (there is a way around this but I just put in a timer to make the script run longer).

Getting better at aircraft mission planning

The tweet the day prior to the Civvie mission that said an hour was allotted for the flight was not something I did after flying the mission. I knew how I wanted the mission to go and I estimated it would take about an hour to fly and I was pretty much spot on – it took just under an hour. Given that I don’t have anything like KSPTOT for planning aircraft flights, it’s good to know I’m getting better at determining what’s feasible to do and what is not given a set of constraints, like time.

Kerbal lifespans

So I will admit that July 27th is my real birthday, but I’m not actually 17 years old. If you must know, I’m now 35. I’ve always planned for kerbals to have shorter lifespans than humans because I wanted to have another excuse to rotate more characters throughout the story and have some actually retire. I haven’t decided on an exact age range yet but Jeb is already 43 and I don’t want them living past 60. The general idea is they mature quickly and stay active late in life, so even if I decide to cap lifespan at 50 years Jeb could still be an astronaut for 5 more years at best. Anyways, I don’t want Drew Kerman to die before I do, so I had to make him really young, which also fits with his backstory of already being rich thanks to his parents so he wouldn’t have had to have worked much to be wealthy enough to start KSA.

I am a GTA:O griefer

So, still playing GTA:Online with a friend of mine and having a good time, even when going solo. I have found that “griefing” other players is when you actually follow the instructions the game gives you when other players are running missions and it tells you to try and stop them. Everyone is so hell bent on making money that if you interfere in any way they completely lose their excrements. Apparently the popular conspiracy theory is being able to only perform high-income missions in public lobbies where other players can mess you up is so that people get frustrated and buy Shark Cards with real money from Rockstar. That makes sense, but knowing that it’s amazing how bent out of shape people get when you actually do it :P

I can still have fun even if everyone hates me.

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 7/31/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Heads Back Into Space

You can review the flight of the fourth Mk4 in its mission report and also check out the Flight Tracker for an updated vessel page that now includes splashdown location and total distance traveled. Flight telemetry data has been posted now as well. We’ve done a basic comparison between this flight and the last, but full analysis will not be done until Monday. Still, there are some interesting things to note, like how the 4th flight staged the first two boosters both higher than the 3rd flight and ascended slightly more vertically but ended up with a lower apokee – no doubt due to the lack of throttle-up on the 3rd stage engine. Also despite being higher the rocket was traveling slower, which made the nose pitch over faster and decreased the coast times. We are also still going past 40kPa during ascent, this time topping out at 61.42kPa – but only during the first stage boost, so if the rocket can ascend with an initial 2G of thrust we may stay below 40kPa the duration of the flight. We also noticed a large precession, or wobble, to the rocket as it was re-entering this time versus the last flight and are not sure why. Thankfully although it did slam sideways into the atmosphere a bit the spin did not turn flat and the engine still took the brunt of the re-entry force as intended. Definitely a lot more scorching on the sides of the rocket though. Finally, the landing was perfect this time around, with the initial chute deployment adjusted down from 6km to 4km. Further analysis Monday will lead to decisions for our ascent profile for Tuesday’s launch.

KerBalloon and Genesis Continue Contract Missions

Both programs had missions this past week to satisfy 4 contracts in total. KerBalloon launched two missions simultaneously, one at sea and one over land. Both were high-altitude missions which are heavily dependent on weather conditions. Thankfully skies cooperated for the most part, although the land mission did not launch in conditions that were as ideal as they had thought. Genesis took care of two contracts in a single flight again, this time with Commander Valentina at the controls. High winds were a concern but Val had enough experience to handle them, although she almost ended up making a mistake during landing that could have led to a serious accident when she forgot to reset her pitch trim on approach and couldn’t fully raise the nose on touchdown. Although it is an item on her pre-landing checklist she either skipped over it or was briefly distracted and returned to the wrong item. The high winds did not provide for a pleasant landing approach. With the Deuce we hope the multi-crew cross-check will help to prevent these kinds of mistakes.

Speaking of the Deuce, reconstruction is coming along well and you can expect to hear more about it next week.

What’s New Regarding the Monolith? We Can’t Say

A pall of secrecy has descended over the projects that are currently ongoing to study the Monolith and the crystal formations in the caverns of Umbarg and Kravass. Earlier this week the Presider was forced to enact an official order that prevented anyone from approaching the Monolith or talking to anyone working on the research project. Ever since the Incident religious groups who see the Monolith as a central part of their faith have been mounting demonstrations in all 4 cities, saying that the lack of access to the object in the days leading up to “The Incident” during which closer scientific scrutiny was being carried out prevented them from being near it when it activated. Apparently they believe the burnt out area is just the after-effect of the transport bubble that was meant to take the True Believers away to meet their Creators. Or Creator – there are a few factions that differ in this regard. The Presider and his Assembly have become concerned that any information released prior to a complete investigation could only lead to more wild speculation by the religious radicals and have thus clamped down on security. With the operation being conducted on KSC grounds, KSA Operations Director Drew Kerman is among the few that still receive regular briefs, but we are unable to share any information at this time. However we will continue to release any details we can as soon as possible.

ATN Database Update & Financial Report

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 844 asteroids, 13 updates and no new alerts issued.

Have a look at our extremely profitable July thanks to the bountiful rewards reaped by the Progenitor Program for making it into space. We are well-funded now for future Mk5 development.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Almost all the naked-eye planets are clustered to the west at sunset these days, and here Mun and Minmus join in on the party as well. Jool and Duna are the only ones missing, but they are keeping each other company further to the east.

western-planet-party_35017324623_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 7/16/17

Two days behind now (weekend days, so not too bad) playing catch-up because I spent too much time with my friend on GTA Online and we’re trying to rope our other close buddies in so we can get a 4-person heist crew going and also completely wreck lobbies as a 4-person organization. Good times. A nice distraction, but my main focus is still here.

The Incident

So this past week I finally got to actually live through the Monolith Incident as it went down for real. Thankfully I did manage to set everything up properly so that when the time came I was able to quick switch over to the website error page and the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster timeout pages, although I hadn’t really thought through how best to do that until that day of. I ended up making a folder holding the files and the same directory structure on my server so I could just upload that and overwrite everything at once. Was a bit scared of doing that to be honest but it didn’t love anything else up. Then when I made the decision to extend the comm blackout a day I almost forgot to reschedule and rewrite some tweets to account for that. All in all though it went off smoothly and although I didn’t get as much of a reaction as I wanted I still got some people wondering about things, which is good enough!

More write-ahead needed for Civvie missions

Almost screwed myself over by not actually outlining the tweets that would be sent during the windy day Civvie mission. Because I can’t actually do wind in the game that affects aircraft using FAR I didn’t really think through some things – mainly the fact that if it really is so windy then why fly in the first place? Crap I had already flown the mission!! Thankfully the flight was very close to KSC so I was able to use that as an excuse. I also didn’t think to delay departure so that consideration could be made for the windy conditions which meant I had to adjust the times in the recorded telemetry, but that was an easy Special Paste operation in Excel.

Also the trim pitch thing was real – trim pitch was still down and Civvie’s prop almost ate dirt on that landing. It’s also a real cause of flight accidents. Yea, I don’t always have to make up ways to screw up. Unfortunately tho I didn’t have extenuating circumstances like high winds to blame for my love up.

Mk4 launch

Took two tries again, because of the dumb issue with the FAR windows disappearing on launch. I brought them back the first launch but to do so I had to rearrange some windows to get at the button and during that time I forgot to note the pitch of the rocket and so the entire flight was extremely shallow. I did manage to puzzle out a workaround tho, launching and then re-showing the FAR window and reverting back to launch made it stay put the entire flight on the second try. Hopefully it’s fixed in 1.3 or the workaround still works.

I also had to change up how the flight was reported on the Flight Tracker due to the fact that this one was continually updated in real time. The previous flight went back and added the later events with data already collected from a recovered payload, so I couldn’t give times for chute deployment and splashdown, and had to just update it one more time at the end with data that would have only been available after collecting the payload once it was returned to KSC.

Additionally I retconned the Mk4 Flight 3 database (before it was published, so technically not a retconn?) to change the time signal was lost because I originally had it happen when it fell below the horizon rather than when the re-entry plasma began.

KSP v1.3 upgrade status

Still waiting mainly on 3 integral mods – Advanced Jet Engine, Kerballoons, and KerbCam. So I’m close, but still not there yet. Hopefully within the next month or so, but in the meantime I’m not really complaining about being stuck on v1.2.2 – there’s nothing about v1.3 that would really make anything I’m doing right now better from and audience point of view.

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 8/7/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Program Completed

With the fifth launch this past week we are closing out the Mk4 program and directing all of our attention on the Mk5. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the final launch still provided us with valuable data that will be useful to the Mk5 program. After review of data collected during the brief 17s mission it’s been determined the primary cause of failure was the low TWR, which was unable to keep the rocket pointed downrange as lift at the nose brought it about to 87° pitch west, carrying it up over KSC. After the 1st stage was expended, the entire rocket was blown up via the Flight Termination System command sent by the Range Safety Officer after confirming the rocket’s course with Guidance and receiving the order to terminate from Flight Director Lanalye, who had a brief consultation with Operations Director Drew Kerman. Running out the first stage reduced the size of the explosion and limited debris raining down towards spectators, but it also allowed us to see how fast the rocket would be accelerated – it stayed below 40kPa. How this data will be applied to the Mk5 program is still under review, the Progenitor team expects to release a report next week. We can say at this time that the first Mk5 launch will not occur until early September, however we do plan to launch all 5 initial rockets in a cadence similar to the last two Mk4s.

Have a look also at a video comparison of the three last Mk4 launches that allow you to see how TWR affects the rocket at launch.

Deuce Rebuild Complete, Trials to Resume Next Week

The Deuce has finished its reconstruction in the Horizontal Assembly Building, sporting its new tail design. C7 engineers have also tweaked down the control inputs for the elevators and ailerons so not only will the aircraft be more stable but control should be more subtle as well. Commander Valentina will put the aircraft through its paces on the ground similar to its first ground trials next Monday while Captain Jebediah plans to be busy with a scheduled Civvie mission that was delayed multiple times this week due to weather. Assuming all goes well after a day or so of data analysis & mechanical checkouts from the ground trials Jeb will once again take the aircraft up to see if flight performance meets engineer expectations. If this is the case, further flights by both Jeb and Val will continue to push the aircraft’s limits to attempt to identify and address any remaining design flaws.

KerBalloon Mission Marathons See Success

Both missions run this week on Monday and Wednesday by the KerBalloon team, including Specialists Bill and Bob, were 12+ hour affairs that saw combined use of land and sea assets due to the launch locations being so close to the water. Prevailing winds out of the west would usually guarantee a sea recovery after the launch, so a Maritime Service Vessel should have been all that was needed for both missions, however we still don’t fully understand upper-atmosphere air currents and the chance that the balloons could drift back over land had to be accounted for which is why Utility Task Vehicles launched the balloons. As usual, with these contracts completed the KerBalloon program is already evaluating several new proposals for next week.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 857 asteroids, 15 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Although it didn’t turn out to be lucky, it was still nice to capture an eclipse with a rocket on the launch pad for the first time. Moho and then Sarnus are visible above the sun, with Eve down near the horizon.

lucky-eclipse_36075891665_o-1024x640.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 7/27/17

The heat beat me back again, and I lost several days of lead time and then several more due to other IRL stuff and so I’ve finally broken down and bought a small portable air conditioner that should be more than enough for my 120ft2 office space when the temperatures start to rise again (has been in the 70s these past few days and it’s been glorious). I’ll probably report in the next Desk Notes how the new unit fares.

KB mission mistake a real “oopsie”

Finding out the coordinates were wrong for the first KB mission this past week wasn’t a plot device, that was me actually noting the wrong coordinates and not realizing it until I was writing out the mission events. Still, made for a bit of an interesting twist to the start of things and also turned out the original shortlink to the incorrect location was made using “bodyup.asp” which was how I accessed the Flight Tracker when it was “down” for the Monolith Incident. So I needed to make a new shortcode anyways and didn’t have to worry about needing to use the same URL.

Mk4 final launch

I was originally planning to make this launch fail, and did some research into how the lower-stage booster could end up getting plugged or something due to a manufacturing defect – I wanted to show it flame out like 3 seconds after launch and then – pause – and the entire thing blows up a second later. But I couldn’t find any compelling evidence out there that this would happen, and I also remembered this launch might fail on its own anyways if the rocket ends up flipping over – which it did although not completely, just far enough to begin heading west instead of east.

I originally had the launch rehearsal scheduled before the buffer time, but then I realized it makes no sense to have a rehearsal if the range monitoring and recovery ships are not yet in place.

I spent almost 20min trying to figure out how the Mk4 gained 15kg over the previous one when I didn’t add any heavier science instruments – it should have lost weight. Then I looked again at the masses and realized USI instruments were 0.02t and not 0.002t like I had thought. Idiot.

I still used game weather to decide conditions for launch, but I did roll the dice in my favor by setting a single cloud layer very high up and not adding additional layers.

It took me two launches again because somehow for the first launch I setup to launch an hour later than I should have *headdesk*

finally, the launch video comparison between the 3 launches might be a teeny bit off, but I don’t think it’s noticeable. Even with some settings that didn’t affect the quality of the launches turned down, the game was still running with a yellow clock. Thankfully I had PhysicalTimeRatioViewer to tell me exactly how slow the game was running so that I could speed up the video accordingly.

3D orbital figures in the Flight Tracker

Yesssssssssss! Finally! It wasn’t all that hard to get working once I figured out all the annoying nuances of working with GeoGebra’s desktop application (much obscenities were screamed) and also the documentation to get it embedded was a bit lacking causing me to request help in their support forums, but in the end I got it all sorted and it is everything I ever wanted. Very happy. Massive thanks again to Syntax over in the KSP forums for mathing out everything. The only major hurdle left is figuring out how to show hyperbolic orbits. GeoGebra has a hyperbola function, but using it isn’t as simple as I would like.

Now that this is working and I have it setup in a way to know how I would like to dynamically load data into it, I can finally start work on my refactoring of the Flight Tracker/Crew Roster… once I catch back up to 3 weeks lead time. Oh, the never-ending toil!

 

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Posted (edited)
Operations Summary – Week of 8/14/17
 

Progeny Mk5 Program Begins

This week we officially retired the Mk4 and announced the Mk5, moving on to the new rocket series. The dates for all five initial launches have been set, here are the first two:

Flight 1: 9/12 @ 23:23 UTC
Flight 2: 9/14 @ 17:29 UTC

Proving that we can turn around and launch again in two days with the last Mk4 missions, we will be extending this concept across all five launches for the Mk5 – it will be an exciting two weeks! Parts such as fins, decouplers, stack adapters, etc. have already begun to arrive for the VAB to sort and prepare for assembly, with the 3rd stages being worked on starting this week. The final specifications for the boosters, which need to be pre-made to a certain thrust setting, were sent to USI this week so they can finish manufacturing them by the end of the month. By the time the first rocket is ready the fifth will already be partially assembled, but not all of them will be completed before the first launch.

Deuce Returns to Flight

After Commander Valentina conducted a ground trial on Monday, we had two successful flights of C7’s Deuce aircraft this past week with Captain Jebediah at the controls. The initial flight was still hampered by over-sensitive controls and after they were dampened still further for the second flight it became apparent that the aircraft was inherently unstable – Jeb could now feel that it wasn’t him causing the plane to pitch up & down violently (at some points there were momentary forces as high as 7Gs while traveling over 140m/s). This means that more work on the design of the Deuce’s air frame will be needed, and C7 engineers are already working with several new models in R&D’s modest wind tunnel. We don’t expect to see the Deuce return to the air until September, but hopefully when it does its stability issues will be resolved.

Cpt Jeb also flew a successful Civvie mission while Val was testing out the Deuce.

KerBalloon Waits Out Perfect Weather

Specialits Bill and Bob lead out a crew in all three Utility Task Vehicles 84km north into the central plains region to launch a high-altitude balloon. They carried 3 days of supplies to last them to the weekend and camped out through rain and cloudy skies until things finally cleared early Friday for them to launch into a perfectly pristine sky. No serious icing formed during the balloon’s ascent and it made it all the way up to 24.990km before bursting. This was great as we haven’t had a clean ascent in a while, however the fact that it took 3 days meant that our net income on this mission was almost nil thanks to requiring a relay airship to be on station for that long. This will be less of an issue in a few months, as Lead Scientist Cheranne returned this week from Wild Blue Industry’s headquarters in Ockr City saying initial design drafts were underway of our new airship.

You can read the full KB mission report here.

KSC Readies New Dish, DSN Sees Setback at Arekibo

The base for our new tracking dish has been installed, and by the end of the month a second ground dish will join the first and the one on the Tracking Station roof. That roof dish will then be dismantled and moved to the ground as well after the second ground dish is fully commissioned in October. This will set us up to begin trying to tie all three dishes together as an array in order to receive signals from deep space.

Speaking of deep space, the Arekibo Radio Observatory under construction at Sea Ring Crater hit a major obstacle last month when the walls of the dish bowl being dug into the uplift island kept collapsing. Keologists working at the site have determined that the material forming the island is not stable enough to support an inset bowl as originally designed, which flies in the face of earlier reports by a separate team that did the initial site survey. The backers of Arekibo have since signed off on an alternate construction proposal, which would see most of the material already excavated treated into a concrete mixture and used to build a dish atop the island. The downside to this is that the original 180m dish has been reduced to just 84m, which will still make it the largest on the planet but radio scientists are nonetheless dismayed. The original July 2018 completion goal has been moved back two months.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 876 asteroids, 8 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Moho and Sarnus reach appulse while Urlum and Eve hang out below. Neidon is there as well if you look veeery closely below left of Urlum. It’s easy to forget that all of these planets were visible to the west after sunset just over 2 weeks ago

moho-sarnus-appulse_35394194464_o.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 7/31/17

Week in 4 days! Yea that was a lot of work (aircraft flights take the longest to do & write up) but I’m almost back to 3-weeks lead again. Today is also the first day I have the A/C unit working as things are finally getting hotter than 80°F outside today and tomorrow. Yea, literally the week I picked up the unit after ordering it temps have been unseasonably cool – because of course they have. It’s 78°F in here now and 84°F outside so things are looking good so far.

Check yo science instruments!

I have a checklist item to make sure in the VAB/SPH that the craft has all the proper instruments as defined in the spreadsheet that tracks what reusable instruments currently belong to which craft, but I failed to also make note of whether the craft I’m deploying has the proper instruments for the mission! Imagine my surprise when I triggered my science instruments in the latter half of the Civvie mission this week and didn’t trigger a contract completion. There was no thermometer on the aircraft. Derp. I fixed that after the flight, and thankfully because of the delays it was okay to say the Civvie was rolled out a few days ago when the mission was initially planned so it makes sense they would have parked it off to the side after the first day. So, no major retconning needed to get around this mistake, but I’ve since modified the checklist item so I don’t do this again.

For photos too!!

Not only did I screw up missing a science instrument in a mission this week, about an hour before this photo was due to go live I realized the Civvie was missing the atmospheric sampling instrument on its belly! Thankfully this wasn’t as hard as I though to fix. I wasn’t able to match the angle of the entire image exactly, but all I had to do was get the angle of the aircraft close to correct, and then fudge it since it was small enough. I wonder if anyone would have even noticed…

Deuce testing

So the reason the Civvie mission was delayed was due to me falling behind and since aircraft missions take up the most time I was pushing it off so it was easier for me to catch up. However I then realized an even better reason was that doing the Civvie mission at the same time as the Deuce ground trials would let me relegate the Deuce activities to the background, which was great because I didn’t plan to have Val do anything different than what Jeb had already done.

Once again the Deuce trials were flown without me doing any prior testing myself, so whatever happened was what happened, there was no pre-plotting or anything – I could have crashed in the water, crashed on the ground, but I did actually end up landing okay both times. The landings though did not end well, as you can see for yourself in this video of the first test flight. I really have no clue how to properly set up these damn landing gears still. I’m trying new values for spring and dampening every time the aircraft flies and still it wants to bounce around all over the damn place. But the approach to landing was smooth both times, so I didn’t include the flipping out in the story.

I actually didn’t wait until now to reveal the idea that Jeb’s mass was inducing the roll in the aircraft, that was something that came to me just this past week. Normally, mass of kerbals would not affect a vessel, but at some point recently Squad did make it possible to give kerbals mass – I can’t remember when I don’t even remember reading it in the change logs I just found it when perusing the config files for new stuff. Here’s the MM patch I use to add mass to kerbals:


@PHYSICSGLOBALS
{
 // http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/15451-the-mass-of-a-kerbal/
 @kerbalCrewMass = 0.03125
}

It’s not really the real cause behind the roll – the roll was way too big to be caused by this alone – but it can have an effect. I know playing Flight Simulator for many years that the aircraft can tend to be a little left-friendly when it’s just you sitting in the pilot’s seat. But it’s a small thing. Then again, no one ever said the physics in KSP were perfect…

Lastly, had some trouble with my Saitek X55 joystick sticking. Annoyingly, the piece that keeps tension between the base and the spring gets stuck, which lets the joystick flop around like a helicopter cyclic. This happened a while ago too and was one of the reasons I stuck with my X52 until I needed to use the X55’s dual throttles. Surprisingly the stick worked great when I first started using it, but now it’s been getting stuck again. Application of WD-40 has done no good, I may need to look into some silicone spray if it gets worse. For now, I just swapped out for a heavier spring to force the piece back down. This has increased the joystick resistance, which I don’t really like, but it works. As if controlling the Deuce wasn’t loveing hard enough already!!

v1.3 at last??

Sooooo close – only two more mods are needed to allow me to transition completely over to v1.3 without having to continue to run v1.2.2 for certain things. It’s probably not going to happen until v1.3.1 drops of course, but hopefully that point update won’t break too much and I can jump straight to that. Regardless, it’s not something I can start working on until I catch up to my lead. Still three days behind, two of which are the weekend so I should be caught up by today or tomorrow.

But not if I’m still here writing this stuff…

 

Edited by Drew Kerman

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Operations Summary – Week of 8/21/17
 

Genesis Takes on Most Demanding Contract Yet

Previous science flights flown by the Civvie have had to adhere to a general area, which was marked by a radio beacon dropped by the client via airship ahead of the mission. Commander Valentina and Captain Jebediah have both flown through and around these areas in various fashions to collect the data required, but this past week Tarsier Space Technology asked if we could go a step further. They requested that data be collected around the target area within 4-5km of the center, from 1km to 4.5km (Civvie’s service ceiling). To attempt this, we equipped the Civvie’s radio beacon receiver to emit pings as Val flew within the proper range, with decreasing intervals as she drew close and increasing intervals as she flew away. Using this, she was able to successfully fly within the required constraints. You can read the details of the flight in the mission report. Whether more contracts will require this is unknown, but it’s nice to know we can do it.

This week also saw the announcement that the Deuce is being redesigned to account for the pitch instability found during the recent flight trials.

KerBalloon Continues High-Altitude Data Gathering

Demand remains popular for our high-altitude KerBalloons as three launches were carried out this past week. The first was off to the west past the mountains and although 3-days of supplies were taken to wait out good weather, conditions turned out to be fine on the first day. When the payload landed however it got caught up high on a steep slope. Unlike last time this happened, frequent updrafts in the area prevented airships from lowering crew to the location. Specialist Bill had to return with a crew and proper climbing gear the following day and has vowed to keep the gear with them on future missions. The second and third launches were at sea from the Maritime Service Vessel Lymun and were more routine, with the weather again cooperating very well. Everyone is looking forwards to what will hopefully be a nice weekend!

Research & Development Focused on New Science Instruments

Head of R&D Wernher von Kerman this week revealed that they are working on a new dedicated accelerometer instrument that can also be used on the surface to detect seismic vibrations. Currently we have a small sensor built into the rocket’s avionics core but a dedicated instrument would give us much more accurate readings. No timeline has been revealed but we expect it will take a few weeks at least to transform this well-known tech into something suitable for the high-demands of rocket flight.

R&D have also reminded us they are hard at work determining the science suite that will be built into the Extremis probes. Right now there are no constraints because mission planners are still working out Δv requirements, so ideas are running wild as to what sort of science would be best performed during the various flybys and deep space travel. It is important that the chosen instruments remain generalized though because we want to outfit each probe similarly so one could replace another in the event of a launch failure.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 902 asteroids, 16 updates and no new alerts issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

If the night sky in this photo seems a bit washed out compared to others we’ve posted, it’s because this is what it looks like to the naked eye. We commonly use either more sensitive light-capturing optics or longer exposures for a more vibrant look to the stars and nebulae above.

natural-sky_35976254880_o-768x480.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 8/5/17

Will be all caught up again tomorrow to my 3-week lead. This was very tough given all the Mk5 material I have had to produce. Since I will inevitably fall behind again later this month when I leave for 4 days to view the solar eclipse, I’ve already decided that I will only ever do 2 days of KSA ops in a single real day before turning my attention to other things like the Flight Tracker rewrite and kOS coding. Crunching through things just to regain my lead time has not been enjoyable at all. Good news though is that my new A/C unit is working great after figuring out how best to configure things to make it most efficient at cooling my modest 120ft2 office. It can’t actually make my room much colder than outside, but if I get it running in the morning when I know it will be hot later, it doesn’t warm up as much and I always have a cool breeze on me.

Deuce redesign

I’m very happy with how the Deuce is turning out with iterative design changes. I’ve read tutorials and watched videos on how to design with FAR tools like the derivatives window but I’m not a very studious person and I can’t really remember things until I actually do them. So these changes being made to the Deuce represent the actual learning curve I’m going through. The first test flight had a serious yaw problem and I saw the red numbers in the derivatives window and I figured out how to fix them for the second & third test flights. Red numbers in the pitch were still there and I knew they were there but I didn’t really understand how they would affect the aircraft until I flew it and realized yea those numbers too would have to be fixed. I don’t want the C7 engineers to be coming to these conclusions from raw calculations though, which is why I liked how Jeb was able to determine the aircraft was unstable once pitch was dampened when at first C7 was concluding it was him being too hard on the controls.

Mk4 launch #4

This past week was the second to last Mk4 launch and it went great from a technical standpoint, the Flight Tracker followed all the events properly. Funny how it was the 4th Mk4 launch on August 4th – I didn’t even realize that until the day of. I kind of wish I could have added a bit more suspense by saying stuff like how most of KSC was evacuated in case the Monolith did something else but I had to play into the fact that there was now a gag order on Monolith news so KSA wouldn’t have been able to mention it that way.

Flying the DME arc

So since Civvie flights have begun to get a bit routine and boring (to write about anyways, I still love flying them) and I don’t yet have anything else going on that allows me to relegate them to the background, I decided to add a new challenge of flying a certain distance from the target area. This was actually done with Waypoint Manager, which gives you the distance to the center. It was still a challenge, but it was doable to turn towards the target until the distance slowed its change, then level out and turn back in when you started to get too far away. This is a technique I practiced with actual DME equipment in Flight Simulator, which you can learn more about in this blog post of my flying exploits.

Stop giving me high-altitude crew observations!!

The tweet this past week about Mortimer declining high-altitude crew observation contracts was a joke based on the game actually still serving me these contracts, despite the fact that I keep declining them or waiting until they expire. There is even a field in the game’s contract module that keeps track of whether you look at and then ignore a contract, so how can the game not take a damn hint??

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 8/28/17
Hopefully imgur albums will be fixed soon - for now click here
 

Mk5 Development Kicks into High Gear

Two big milestones occurred this past week for the Progeny Mk5, the first being the arrival of all 10 boosters that will be used to make the first and second stages of the rocket. The third stages have been undergoing construction for the past two weeks already and all 5 are almost done and ready to be integrated with their payloads as launch draws nearer. Over this next week leading up to the first two launches two Mk5s will be completed with the other three finishing up as the first two and third are launching, assembly-line style. Everything is on schedule for launch #1 on the 12th.

The second event was running kOS code on flight hardware for the first time. Previously engineers had been using development kits with unfinished hardware but the Mk5 probe cores we got last month were the final deal & some late changes were made since the last shipment of development hardware. Thankfully USI did a great job keeping the programming team informed and they were able to run code on the new hardware with only minor issues. We are patching up our code but the hardware looks solid. We will periodically push updates to our source repository on Github. Now that we will be unifying control systems on both the ground and the rocket the AFCS has been renamed the Automated Flight Control System from Automated Firing Control System.

Genesis & KerBalloon Maintain KSA Income

Mortimer, Head of Finances, is still tidying up the books to publish our latest financial report next week but says despite some added expenses from the Deuce and Progeny Mk5 development in addition to purchasing two new communications dishes, thanks to the efforts of the Genesis and KerBalloon programs our overall fiscal outlook remains positive despite a large red number for this past month’s income. This past week KerBalloon launched both high-altitude and low-altitude payloads from land and sea. Genesis only flew a single Civvie mission as they’ve been having to turn down multiple contract submissions – a typo was recently uncovered in the submission guidelines that led companies to believe we can offer high-altitude aircraft flights. Fixed now, hopefully some more valid contracts will start arriving soon.

Remises Departs the Kerbin System

The second known moonlet of Kerbin, Remises, exited Kerbin’s SOI earlier today. Due to its accidental discovery already in orbit we don’t know when it was captured, but since it was discovered back at the end of January it has stuck around for 213 days and circled Kerbin 44 times. Remises’ multiple Mun encounters played a pivotal role in helping us advance our astrodynamics models, with several improper predictions showing that we still had a flawed understanding of how Mun tweaked an object’s orbit during flybys. Ironically, the first accurate prediction turned out to be the latest one, which sent Remises out of the system. It will now continue to be watched by the Asteroid Tracking Network, and updates to its database will include observations for Remises every time it laps the sun along its new orbit. Astronomers have been making tons of observations during the course of Remises’ stay and can now finally start to go through all the data they have collected these last couple of months.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database is available here, containing 916 asteroids, 16 updates and no new alerts issued.

Edlu Kerman, head of the ATN, has also recently released information about the drop in Near-Kerbin Object findings. Recent months have seen a larger influx of observation data from amateur astronomers as telescopes continue to become more widespread and cheaper, in addition to more kerbs willing to spend time on the surface exploring. Overall asteroid detection rates have gone up, but it has also become more generalized and less-focused on the NKOs that could pose a threat to any future surface inhabitants. The ATN has gone back and reworked their search protocols in the hopes of being able to identify a greater number of NKOs moving forward.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

It’s not just lack of time that has kept Bob & Valentina away from the telescope so much, but lack of any exciting celestial events this time of year. Currently the only grouping of planets to be had are Sarnus, Urlum & Neidon, which will continue to become a tighter and tighter cluster as the months go on, although their various inclinations will prevent any occultations.

threes-company_36526910275_o.png

From the Desk of Drew Kerman (Out of Character Behind the Scenes stuff)

Spoiler

Written on 8/12/17

Have been lagging a day behind (still am) for most of this week since I had to take some time to finally plan out my trip to see the solar eclipse later this month. To be honest I was on the fence about going more than just procrastinating, but finally decided I had the money and really wanted to make sure I had the chance to catch an event that many people say should be on one’s bucket list. If I miss out, I still have a good shot at 2024, but the latest weather update over my area says skies will be sunny – fingers crossed!

New KSA logo

Massive thanks to Three_Pounds on the forums for taking the time to recreate a vectorized version of the KSA logo so that it could be embiggened as much as needed for whatever (like finally being displayed prominently on the website, finally). The logo is actually a KSP logo I liked a lot when first starting out with the original KSA in 2014 so I just changed the “P” to an “A”. Problem was of course it was from a flag logo that is only 160 pixels tall, so upscaling that never looked good. It’s very nice to finally have a logo I can scale down more often than up.

New tracking dishes

So eventually I will need to remove the tracking dish from the roof of the Tracking Station, so I wanted to see if I could destroy it without destroying the entire building. So I loaded up the Object Thrower and chucked a ball at it – and the whole building blew up. Oh well. But then I noticed two interesting things: 1) the tracking dish on the lawn didn’t blow up and 2) there was no trace of the building left behind. HRRRMMMM – what happens if I blow up just the dish on the lawn? so I rebuilt the building and blew up the lawn dish and yep – empty spot, intact building. I then confirmed Kerbal Konstructs has the commnet ground station models, loaded one up, scaled it down to .1 (I just stuck the decimal in front of the default 1 scale value for a quick start at scaling it down and hey, perfect match!) and placed it where the original dish used to be. Then I added a second dish and now I have animated Tracking Station dishes! This is way better than my original plan to use KerbCam to position the camera, take a photo of the Tier 1 Tracking Station, upgrade to Tier 2 for the extra dishes, take another photo from the same spot, and then composite them to remove the extra dish that’s not supposed to be there yet and also the Tier 2 building. I will still need to erase the dish on the roof myself once it comes down but that’s fairly easy I’ve already tested out a good composite method for it.

New asteroid hunting method

The real problem with the NKOs isn’t really with finding them, it’s finding ones that are still on an intercept path with Kerbin. Now that there are a lot more NKOs, there are more that have already been to and exited Kerbin’s SOI than there are approaching it, meaning I find them less often and thus have less cool asteroid plots to share (not to mention finding any on impact/capture trajectories). So now I’ve rigged things so more approaching NKOs are discovered. Exciting times ahead! I still need to break down how asteroids are tracked and discovered but it really would be an entire Desk Notes entry all on its own.

Lame-ass observation locations

I keep getting contracts for crew reports like within 15km of the KSC, it’s really annoying. I finally got fed up and just moved the location to someplace more interesting. I think as my reputation score improves the game starts giving me locations further and further from KSC, which would make sense but currently the progression is a bit too slow for my liking. I’m also probably going to start changing the altitude requirements too if the game keeps insisting on giving me high-altitude crew observations more often.

Financial errors

So the reason there is only ever one finance sheet available via the KSA Google Sheets is because I often find clerical mistakes or have to go back and retcon something or other. The latest example would be the very first line of the expense lists on some sheets was not being tabulated, and oh I also forgot to include R&D costs for the negative gravioli detector back in July (R&D costs are the game’s entry cost value for unlocking the part. USI sounding rockets mod ships with no entry costs so I decided to write it that USI is footing the bill in this regard) – I also forgot to include an expense line for purchasing the gravioli detector but then I realized the one I tested on the balloon flight & in space was the one I spent the R&D money on.

Alright, time to knock off that one extra day of lag & then get back to the Operations Tracker (name change!) rewrite. Of course after next week’s road trip I’ll be several days behind again – so it goes!

 

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