Drew Kerman

The Kerbal Space Agency: Progeny Mk4 Curtain Drops

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Operations Summary – Week of 3/20/17

Progeny Mk3 Launch #2 Initial Report

Great weather today heralded the launch of our second Progeny Mk3 rocket, which was rolled out, mounted & tested all without any issues this time, allowing Launch Control some free time between finishing pre-flight and the final countdown to run some extra tests on the rocket as it sat out on the pad through an entire night cycle. Despite the increased launch angle and because of the way rocket debris fell back toward the KSC last launch, to be on the safe side all spectators had to be either inside or within 5 feet of a building entrance in order to view the launch from the campus. As launch time approached, the launch team under Flight Director Lanalye performed a flawless countdown and the Progeny Mk3 shot up into the sky right on time.

The flight profile for this launch called for a maximum coast period between stages in order to give the rocket time to reach a higher altitude where engine efficiency would be greater and the atmosphere would be less resistant. Once the booster stage expired, it was immediately jettisoned to reduce weight however the next booster stage was not activated until the vertical speed of the rocket dropped back down to zero. We essentially launched this rocket three times, just not all from the ground! The flight of the first stage went just as planned, with a clean separation followed by a coast of the remaining rocket. The new fin angling (1st stage 1°, 2nd stage 0.5° and 3rd stage 0.25°) put the rocket into a steady spin, but at a slower rate than engineers would have liked. Additionally the length of the rocket and possibly the lack of spin speed eventually caused it to pitch well over towards the horizon by the time it stopped climbing and the second stage was activated, sending it off laterally towards the southern-edge of the pre-planned ascent corridor. With the rocket now almost flying level, the coast period between the second and third stages was very short, and when the third stage was ignited it pushed the rocket past the boundaries of the ascent corridor. Following established protocol, the Range Safety Officer saw this occur and triggered the Flight Termination System, destroying the rocket.

Although the loss of the payload is regrettable, we still gathered a lot of useful data on this flight, which is yet to be fully analyzed by engineers. The stream of telemetry to the tracking station still contains numerous useful parameters all recorded once per second, so while the loss of the Telemetry Data Unit aboard the payload is a pretty big blow to the program, we can still come to useful conclusions with the data we have in addition to the video footage, which will be posted this weekend. Next week we will perform a full review of the latest launch and decide when/how to launch the third and final rocket in this campaign.

Civvie Production Model Certified for Flight

Following up on the ground testing carried out by Commander Val at the end of last week, Captain Jebediah took the new Civvie up for two test flights this week to ensure it’s ready to begin taking on actual missions to satisfy contract work that has been piling up in the weeks since we’ve been unable to fly any aircraft. You can read in detail how both test flights went via this report and this report. In summary, the new Civvie design has proved to be as stable and powerful as its designers promised, much to the pleasure of both us and C7 Aerospace Division, which has already moved on to begin finalizing the plans for its next Genesis Program aircraft, the Deuce twin-engine. Work is also starting to get underway into R&D of turbine-driven propeller engines.

Expect news of upcoming Civvie missions next week.

Asteroid Tracking Network Update

The latest release of the ATN catalog can be found here, containing 402 asteroids. No new alerts have been issued, and BTS-121(D) will be removed from the catalog next week since it has broken up & is currently being recovered in pieces strewn across the land northeast of the Kongo River. No chunks large enough hit the ground to cause more than damage to the immediate local area however the shockwave of the explosion did do some minor widespread damage to flora in the area when it struck the ground.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Val hasn’t really looked at Eve (or Moho) much, which is something she plans to rectify given that these planets are the only ones that show us phases. Here is Eve at max zoom just past half full since the transit on Feb 22nd, when we could see only its dark side.

half-of-eve_32701917150_o.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 2/27/17

Oof, been a rough couple of days and starting to fall behind on things again, but slowly making progress and catching up once more. I took a lot of notes during this past week of operations so let’s dive right in…

Computer Crash

Well it finally happened, the game crashed in the middle of a long Civvie flight (the first test flight) – but not just the game, my entire computer BSoD’d! That was rather annoying given that for all this time I’ve had no problems with long hour+ missions in KSP. However given the PC itself rebooted I’m hoping it’s just a general hardware glitch from too much uptime. Will have to hope it doesn’t happen again but luckily for airplane flight this happening isn’t really a huge deal. Since I started taking screenshots every second instead of continuous video, this meant that I had a record of where I was right before the computer crashed. So I was able to use the coordinates from my last location and place my aircraft there using Hyperedit’s ship lander. Of course I had to also remember to re-enable the VOID logger, image capture and Persistent Trails track. I forgot the last two on separate occasions so it took me three tries to get the aircraft back on track but it worked in the end.

Takeoff/Landing Video

I’ve added to my Before Takeoff and Before Landing checklists to begin recording video using a button on my joystick. I really do like the smaller file size of just stitching together the 1s images but when crashes happen during takeoff/landing the extra FPS really helps me see what went wrong and make it easier to share that exact data in my public reports. So now I just record video during these segments of the flight only.

Joystick Control Issues

Unfortunately it seems the AFBW mod that lets me use my joystick without input lag doesn’t play nice with the KSP trim controls, nor does its own trim control work properly. When you set the KSP trim, moving the joystick will move the control surfaces from 0 pitch/roll/yaw instead of started from wherever the trim is currently set. I made note of the this in the first Civvie test flight and said it was fixed in the second. It isn’t fixed, I’m just dealing with it using the aileron trim. I tried to go back to stock KSP joystick controls but input lag still prevents me from using it. Any delay in the physics ticks of the game (yellow/red time) will also slow the input from the joystick. Even if you don’t see the timer as constantly yellow, sometimes it will briefly flash and the controls will lag. I also thought I had found a way to program my joystick to ensure only a single keypress was sent when a button was hit, but turns out I still need to be careful about how I mash the buttons on the joystick (Saitek X52) to ensure I don’t, for example, start and immediately stop recording video.

Better Overland Distance Calculation

When I want to know how far a ground vehicle will travel I use Vessel Mover, which lets me zip a vessel across the surface while Persistent Trails is active measuring the distance I’m traveling along the route. However for just a straight line between two points I whipped up a simple web page that let me input coordinates to the source code, save and when I ran the page gives me the distance in kilometers between the two points using this javascript code version of the haversine formula.

Looking Out the VAB

I finally went and tried a realistic view outside the VAB and it came out pretty good. I started with the image from the VAB which I then superimposed over the KSC flight scene with floaty. Then I used Camera Tools to match the perspective looking out the doors as much as possible using the flagpole near the launchpad to line up the horizon angle. This gave me the following image:

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170224_074029-300x188.png

Yes, unfortunately the VAB is not totally invisible when you are inside of it, although it’s close enough to make this whole idea feasible. I took this image and layered it under the VAB interior photo and then cut out the default backdrop outside the doors so the above image showed through. Then it was a bit of tedious work with the Stamp tool to do a “nearest-neighbor” replacement, copying the sky closest to the spars criss-crossing the image to remove them entirely. This worked great for the vertical pieces as it maintained the gradient of the sky moving upwards. The lateral pieces were a bit more difficult, and you can still see some banding in the final image but I think it passes as high-altitude clouds. Will have to see if I can find a way to remove the VAB textures from view entirely.

Looking in the HAB

Here’s another example of structure manipulation that I’ve showcased several times before:

HAB-4_2-300x188.png HAB-4-300x188.png

But let’s not dwell on the hangar interior, which is old hat – take a closer look at the two images. The original is on the left and the modified version is on the right. There are two key differences. First I’ve made the navigation lights on the Civvie look like they are lit. Second and more subtle, the daylight shining in through the VAB skylights and windows has been dimmed to match the outside light conditions better. A lot of my images have these small changes to help enhance their look and feel.

Progeny Launch #2

This launch took me two tries because when I initially created the Persistent Trail entry for this launch I made two by accident, and I deleted the most recent one, assuming they were both recording. Well, when I had the payload under chute and waiting for it to descend, I noticed the distance measurement on the trail had not increased from 0. I should have deleted the first trail I created. D’oh! But on the other hand, this was a fortuitous break in my progress because it made me go back and think about how awry the launch went from a trajectory perspective and that it probably should have been terminated for exceeding the range limits. That made for a more interesting event, so I went with that on the second launch.

I also did a better job on the video this time, remembering to use multiple camera angles. This is a trick I had forgotten I already knew to do from the original run of the KSA when I had to “stream” launch video right alongside telemetry, so events had to occur properly at the exact second. Having multiple angles allows you to jump ahead in the footage without anyone realizing it by switching to a different viewpoint. It’s almost impossible to tell the next scene after the cut is actually 6-7 seconds later in the footage to allow things to sync up properly. So this launch video has all its events happening at the proper times as logged by the telemetry data made publicly available.

v1.2.2 Upgrade on Hold

Since I’m clawing my way back to a month of lead time I’m not working through my mod list to upgrade to v1.2.2 anymore for the moment. However I realized this isn’t a huge deal since I can’t actually switch to v1.2.2 until I’m done with the Progeny Mk3 rockets, since I don’t want any changes to occur to the flight profiles as a result of moving up to the new game version and FAR version. There shouldn’t be a huge difference but still. I’ll continue the upgrade once I can, but even if I have the new version ready before I’m done flying the Mk3 I won’t use it until afterwards.

 

Edited by Drew Kerman
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Posted (edited)

Operations Summary – Week of 3/27/17

Final Progeny Mk3 Ready for Launch

After full review of the previous launch was conducted, the decision was made to perform some more tweaks to the launch base and final rocket. The base pitch was adjusted from 6° to 5°, matching the angle used for the Progeny Mk2 launches. The rocket fins for the second flight were 1st stage 1°, 2nd stage 0.5° and 3rd stage 0.25°. These have been increased to 1st stage 1.5°, 2nd stage 1° and 3rd stage 0.75°. The larger increase to the upper-stage fins is due to the fact that these two boosters will be coasting longer than they will be under thrust. The main problem with the previous launch was how flat the boosters fell as they lost momentum. Although the same thing will happen again, the increased spin rate should slow down this pitch over. Additionally, we don’t plan to wait until the rocket gets that far over. The flight profile for this launch will wait only until the pitch of the rocket falls by 3° since the start of the coast period. This should be able to put the rocket into the upper atmosphere at last. The launch is still on schedule for 4/4 @ 20:00 UTC.

In additional Progenitor Program news Umbra Space Industries has continued testing the Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine it first fired up earlier this month, and they have informed us they expect to perform a full 31 second burn next week.

Progeny Mk4 Announced

Earlier this week we made it known that parts for the Mk4 had been ordered ahead of the delivery of the Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine, which is currently under development but with promising progress. Even should the engine be delayed, the Mk4 contains the same parts as the Mk3 with exception to the final stage booster – you can see the blueprint here. So we could continue to launch Mk3 rockets with only the additional purchase of some Mk1-B solid rocket engines. As soon as the parts arrive the VAB will begin regular integration of the boosters to prepare to launch either Mk4s or Mk3s in April & May.

Genesis Program – One Up, One Down

Although this week saw the very successful first science mission of the Civvie Production model, it turns out the aircraft is still in need of some improvements according to the test pilots Jeb and Val after they both logged some flight time in it. Additionally, C7 engineers want to give the entire air frame an inspection now that it has actually been flown (to extremes in some cases). You can read the improvements being made in this press release. Although the Civvie Prototype has been fully repaired, bad weather at the end of this week meant it had to stay on the ground, and then both test pilots accompanied the rest of the crew on a wilderness excursion exercise. However next week we hope to get the Prototype back in the air at last. Once the Production model returns to service, its next mission will be a test for deploying a KerBalloon from a mount on its underbelly.

Related news for the Genesis Program is the near-completion of Kravass General Airport, which has been under construction for the past 8 months in the valley just south of the city. This airport will service both aircraft and airships and be the testbed for implementing new regulations that have been in work by the Air Safety Administration. It is here that we will eventually fly the Civvie Prototype to be retired at the Air History Museum.

Celestial Alignments & Events

The heavens were busy this week. First this past weekend was the start of double-transit season for Sarnus, which is when both Eeloo and Slate cast shadows on the planet’s cloud tops at the same time. Right now though we are only moving farther from the planet, however almost dead in the middle of the season when the shadows look the best we will be at opposition, or closest approach. On Monday we were at opposition with Jool, sharing a kerbolar longitude of 73.6° and coming as close as 53,803,793.880km. On Tuesday we reached conjunction with Dres, meaning we were on opposite sides of the sun. It was 51,469,203.363km away at farthest. Then today we reached conjunction with Duna, which was 35,382,466.181km away at furthest. Finally, tomorrow Duna will have completed its first orbit around the sun since the KSA began operations, so expect our usual retrospective infographic.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 419 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

It’s been a while since we showcased a Munar eclipse, so here is a photo of Mun rising while passing through the umbra of Kerbin shortly after sunset.

munar-eclipse_33172180025_o-1024x640.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 3/4/17

Only a day behind, and this being the weekend I will definitely catch up today. I’m now 4 weeks ahead and that’s plenty to coast on, so after today I will be able to go back to the routine of banging out a day of ops and using the remainder of the time to work on other things. Well, I’m not entirely out of the woods yet since I still have a lot of database updating and mission log prepping to do for events that have transpired over the past 4 weeks in the KSA operations. I was originally planning to just handle them as they came up the actual day before, but that’s not really smart since I have the ability to schedule things well ahead of time I might as well use it fully. So technically I still have some catching up to do. After that it’s back to getting KSP v1.2.2 set up and running – just in time for the new update pre-release to drop! Yea, I knew that was going to happen but whatevs, that’s how it goes…

Rage Quit Flying

So I legit threw my flight controllers and screamed loud obscenities a few times after having so much loveing trouble getting the Civvie to cooperate because of the game’s retarded wheel physics and the lack of respect for stock trim controls by the Advanced Fly-by-Wire mod. So, here’s how I have the Civvie set up to actually fly in the game since the basic fixed landing gear are totally useless:

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170222_185208-1024x611.png

This setup using the retractable gear has the wheels at the proper spread and height relative to the fixed gear, along with the same mass thanks to tweakscale. The struts however add 0.1t to the aircraft over the version with the fixed gear, but I consider that to be negligible. Lately I was having trouble getting off the ground because it would roll fine until 40m/s when the tail wheel would come off the ground (as is proper) and then it would hit the smallest of bumps in the terrain and the main gear would launch the craft into the air before I had reached a flight speed of around 50m/s. By pitching down after the tail wheel comes up to keep the main wheels on the ground longer I can usually make it off the ground intact (for the record the pitch down is also a correct procedure for tail draggers taking off but bouncing into the air isn’t).

The other problem that threw me into a fit of rage was the fact that AFBW doesn’t respect the stock trim settings, so if you set the trim with the Alt-WASDQE keys and then move the joystick, the flight controls will all re-center and pitch/yaw/roll from a neutral position. I spoke about this in last week’s desk notes. Well, I thought I’d be okay just handling the roll with aileron trim but the Civvie is so twitchy along the roll axis I’m trimming left/right like mad to compensate & it’s just a pain in the ass. So I finally looked into the trim axis available through AFBW since I have two rollers on my throttle I’m not using. The AFBW trim worked fine in the flights I did this past week, however the way its setup is rather dumb, in my opinion. Rather than using the actual axis value to set the trim (move the axis 1/4 and have the trim set to 1/4) the trim tab is moved in the direction you twist the axis at a speed defined by the magnitude of the axis. So if I want to finely adjust my trim I need to twitch the axis roller to nudge the trim tab a little bit in either direction. ARRRRRGGGHHH!!! But it worked, even if it was super annoying to control this way. There’s a newer build for KSP v1.2.2 that is said to respect trim in its change log, so hopefully I can go back to stock trim soon.

A final frustration was being unable to stop my Saitek X52 from sending multiple button presses for a single click. Even though I created a macro that had a single key down/key up action, just pressing and holding the button to take a single screenshot produced 2-3 screenshots. So stopping/starting video was a complete clusterlove because if it sent 2 actions the video recording would stop but then immediately start again. So I have to take my hand off the throttle to begin/stop recording during takeoff & landing, which is really annoying. But again – le sigh

 

Edited by Drew Kerman
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Posted (edited)

Operations Summary – Week of 4/3/17

Progeny Mk3 Launch Scrubbed Due to Debris Issue

The final launch of the Progeny Mk3 was progressing well on launch day until shortly before the rocket had finished mounting we got word of debris from the previous launch being found 6km south of KSC along the beach. Losing track of our boosters is a big deal, and before it could happen again the launch was scrubbed shortly after the rocket mounting had completed. For more details on the scrub and reasons behind it, see this press release. Since then, the Progenitor teams have put their heads together and come up with a rather simple solution. The reason the boosters are “flying” over long distances is due to the fins on the rockets, so we have installed low-yield det-cord in the fins of this last Mk3 which when triggered upon stage decoupling will effectively shred the fins to pieces, causing the boosters to tumble down into the ocean as they are supposed to. We are still on schedule now for the new launch time next week of 20:20 UTC on April 11th.

In other Progenitor news, the Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine underwent its first complete 31s burn test without any issues, a huge milestone for the development of the engine. If all continues to proceed on schedule we should be able to take delivery of the engine in May, allowing us to transition almost immediately to the Progeny Mk4 – and space? Hopefully!

Civvie Prototype Flies Again, Rwy09 Re-Opened

The Genesis Program had another good week, starting off with seeing the Civvie Prototype return to flight-ready status after repairs were finally completed to the craft since it was crashed by Captain Jeb back at the end of January. Ironically, it was Captain Jeb’s turn to rotate into the pilot’s seat to take the aircraft up for a quick shakedown flight to ensure everything was in working order. He successfully flew the pattern and landed back on Rwy27 with no issues to report. While the Production model is out of service receiving some upgrades and tweaks, the Prototype can fulfill any observation contracts we receive.

The other event this week related to Genesis was the re-opening of Runway 09 to landings, another effect of the crash from back in January. After releasing their full crash report on the incident, C7 put in place approach markers which the pilots could keep in sight in order to ensure they were high enough to miss the final terrain before the flat KSC floodplain. Commander Val did another quick test flight in the Civvie Prototype to ensure that the markers were placed properly to allow her to approach the runway without having to worry so much about her ground clearance. She made it over the final terrain features with a comfortable 80m to spare (we wanted at least 50m clearance) and landed with only a small issue on approach similar to Jeb as they both had to re-accustom themselves to the heavier weight of the Civvie Prototype.

Remises Sticking Around Through November

Astronomers did a conservative 3-encounter orbit plot that takes Remises through the month of November and they have found it won’t be getting kicked out or tossed into Kerbin by that time. The orbits though show no clear progression towards either end and at that point they stopped in order to return to observations and will see how well their predictions turn out before bothering to look ahead any further.

Duna Completes One Orbit

As the days go by, the planets continue to creep along their slow paths around the sun. At the start of this week Duna completed its travels, coming back to the same spot where it was when the KSA began operations back in September of last year. As usual, we have made an infographic depicting the orbit of Duna and marked all the major events that have occurred in the time since. Use the links in the comments to page back through the orbital histories of Kerbin, Eve and Moho.

The next planet to complete its orbit will be Dres nearly one year from now on March 21st, 2018.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 445 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Minmus can be a tricky target to locate when it passes near the sun, even when it does so at close to greatest inclination of 6°. However the sight can be rather stunning since it seems to blend so well within the daytime sky. In the image below, some sheen can be seen off the mineral-rich flatlands that cover part of Minmus’ surface and could one day provide valuable mining resources.

minmus-unseen_33303362186_o-1024x640.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 3/11/17

I’m writing this a day late but real life has actually been busy lately. However it’s nothing bad, just that the day job of coaching gymnastics can require some extra hours of work every now and then if I need to sub for other coaches. Also got the car’s oil changed & went and saw Logan. So awesome. I hope Dafne Keen gets to truly grown up to be the next Wolverine in an X-23 film. Anyways, I have a few notes for this week:

Losing Track of Astronauts

I may have to consider some sort of simple spreadsheet for tracking where the astronauts are on a given day, because twice recently I’ve almost made the mistake of allowing someone to be where they shouldn’t. First example was a photo I took of the launch pad and I was going to say Bob took it, until I remembered all the astronauts were away on an excursion and he couldn’t have been there to take it. So I just tossed out the image – it was mostly filler anyways. But then as I was reviewing a tweet that was going to be published in a few hours, I realized I had done it again. This image was going to be credited to Bob, but he was off on the MSV Tongjess waiting to launch a high-altitude balloon at the time, so I quick switched it to Val just a few hours before the tweet was published. Almost missed that one! (In fact, while writing this I realized the flickr image still credited Bob. Bah!)

Progeny Mk3 Scrub Was Legit

Yes, I really did end up with a second stage booster falling 6km from the KSC when I simulated the launch again for recording the video. So I realized that was pretty far and everyone would have originally seen it head out over the ocean and figured it was reasonable for them to assume that’s where it ended up. Then I decided it should be found on launch day because of course we’d go through the trouble of getting ready to launch when something like that happens. So this was another example of a situation in the story that was only half-engineered by me.

In related news, I’m going to start using kOS to do two things for me during launch – register the exact times I hit the Stage key and save the game when I do. This way I can better recreate rocket launches when recording video, and I can reload the exact scenario when I go back to see what happens to the spent stages.

Experimenting with GeoGebra

I’ve been turned on to GeoGebra by this forum thread where a user created a top-down view of the stock Kerbol system. Given that GeoGebra has an interactive web application, I’m seriously considering whether I can use this to create a dynamic version of the orbital position maps currently included in the Flight Tracker. This would be a huge time saver in the long run. Even though I can generate these images for a week mostly automatically and get them all ready to upload in 30-45 minutes, moving forward with more space objects and potentially more bodies things will start to get more complicated for rendering the graphs. Being able to just input some orbital data and having the body/craft be rendered for a given date/time would be a great thing. Currently it’s topping my ToDo list for new Flight Tracker features but I don’t know how long it will take me to grok the math needed.

KerbalMaps Stalled

One of the reasons GeoGebra is a nice distraction at the moment is because progress on replacing KerbalMaps since the original author disappeared has stalled once again. We had a good group message chat going over on the forums for a few days but the developer behind the new version has since stopped communicating for the past almost 3 weeks and although I poked him once on twitter and see that he’s active & talking to people on twitter I’ve gotten no response. So no idea what the current status is, but I do plan to try to reach him again in a month or so if nothing happens from him before then.

Approach Markers

So these markers have actually been at the apron to the runway since I started playing v1.1.3 of KSP because for some reason I couldn’t get KerbinSide to delete them like I did with all the other KSC Upgrade items I didn’t want (yet). I’ve had to remove them from some images but they’ve always been so small and far in the background it hasn’t been a big deal. Thanks to the Civvie crash tho (not a purposeful thing I did) I decided since I couldn’t delete them I might as well put them to use and move them out into the grasslands and make them a actual thing so I could have them in images and not worry about it. Well I moved them out there and when I reloaded the game another pair of marker objects had taken their place, even though I edited the original objects. FML.

Fortunately in v1.2.2 of KSP I’m able to delete them through KerbinSide.

Also this image is edited, as most images are. Having the sun face them turns them into obnoxiously bright white markers because the surfaces of the model are untextured and reflective. So the markers them selves were photographed when the sun was behind them then the time instantly switched to later in the day via HyperEdit for another photo which was then layered atop and the marker surfaces erased to expose the darker, earlier day photo.

 

Edited by Drew Kerman
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Posted (edited)

Operations Summary – Week of 4/10/17

Progeny Mk3 Flight 3 Analysis

With the recovery earlier today of the Mk1-A booster, we can hopefully get to the bottom of why the fins on that stage were shredded at the same time as the first stage. That will probably take up most of next week for the Progenitor engineers. In the meantime, data from the flight has been reviewed and everyone agrees that had the fin mishap not occurred we would have reached our goal of breaking through 18km and into the upper atmosphere. The relatively extreme drag produced by the spin-out of the second stage was the real killer in this launch, lowering the velocity of the rocket and not even allowing it to surpass 10km in altitude. Still, the good news from the last launch is that the first stage booster fell only 804m from the launch pad versus the 1.6km from the previous launch, where the fins acted as wings and allowed it to glide a considerable distance. We also had positive tracking of the second and third stage boosters into the water, falling in an uncontrolled tumble the whole way.

Since the last launch was unsuccessful, we have ordered additional mk1-B boosters, and the stacks currently under integration in the VAB for the Mk4 rockets will be used for at least one more Mk3 launch at the end of this month, date and time TBD.

New Genesis Program Aircraft: The Deuce

With the Civvie on its way to mass production after the successful testing done last week, C7 Aerospace has unveiled its next aircraft for the Genesis Program, the Deuce, which is multi-engine, multi-crew and passenger-capable. It will be constructed and tested next month with plans to enter service in June. At this time we are not entirely sure of where C7 wants to go following the completion of the Deuce and therefore the completion of the initial plan laid out for the Genesis Program. We have heard rumors of a jet turbine under development but so far C7 has not made an official statement. At this time our best guess is we will see either the debut of a jet-powered aircraft spearheading a new program or an even larger propeller-driven aircraft for Genesis.

Civvie Payload Operations Begin

With the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer instrument, we were able to get the first look at how the Civvie can handle carrying large objects on its underside. C7 is still reviewing the data collected during the flight that took place earlier today, but the Civvie at least was able to takeoff, fly and land without any serious issues coming to light. Assuming the data comes out looking good, the next step will be to unmount the science instrument and replace it with a KerBalloon attached via a radial decoupler so it can be dropped and deployed while in flight. Doing this will allow for high-atmospheric research to take place over land far from the KSC, since the rovers can carry extra fuel to make it to the recovery location, then collapse the empty fuel containers to make room for bringing back the payload.

Remises Surprise Encounter Frustrates Astronomers

Another event that occurred earlier today was the third known passage of Remises through the SOI of Mun. This was not supposed to happen until later this year, and only regular monitoring by astronomers allowed them to realize yesterday what was about to happen in a few short hours time. Remises has since returned to orbit around Kerbin and before astronomers even try to bother predicting the next encounter they will be carefully reviewing their orbital software to see if any bugs can be found.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 463 asteroids.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Sure, we featured Minmus last week but like we said, there’s lots more to see of this moon. in this shot, it was rising in the east as the sun set to the west, causing the light to reach it to be bent through the atmosphere.

hued-minmus_32643848054_o-1024x640.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 3/22/17

Hopefully the last nasty snowstorm has passed through – March always needs to toss us one last slice of wintry hell. That combined with an Iron Fist binge (it was alright, okay?) has set me a bit behind schedule. I’m still 3+ weeks ahead though so rather than work extra hard to get back to 4 I’ll just make sure to do the next few weekends in a single day and eventually recoup my losses. Not planning any extended time away in the near future. Let’s discuss some things!

Bunker Photo Redo

So this past week the image of the astronauts in the bunker dropped. As I explained in these Desk Notes it was a bit of a pain in the butt to slice that image together, so I was really eager to see it go public at last. But the day before, I looked at it again and really hated that I had Val behind the camera and out of the shot. So I made the decision to insert her into the photo. The easiest way would be a selfie-style image, but I couldn’t fit her in adequately without having to also shift Bill over a little bit to the right so you could still see him waving, which meant I also had to reveal some buildings/landscape behind his head. But first things first – getting a shot of Val I could use. Luckily one of the animation poses I had already made gave her a nice head tilt, and I just had to position the camera properly and make sure the lighting was correct – I still lit her mouth a bit too much but if anyone asked I was ready to explain how she’s standing in front of the bunker doorway.

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170314_045154-300x188.
Val in Jeb’s pose. Female kerbals are rigged differently so her eyes ended up in a perfect position
KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170314_044549-300x188.
Using KerbCam to get a proper selfie perspective then time-warping to make her smile

After I layered her into the photo to see how much I needed to move Bill, I then had to work to create the same kind of view looking out the bunker so I could add the buildings and landscape revealed behind his head. That was done fairly well using floaty to superimpose the original image, and knowing the time to set with HyperEdit for proper lighting (had to play with the Ambient Light Adjustment mod slider as well). I got it close enough that I was able to fudge things in Paint.NET so you won’t notice if you don’t look closely. Cutting out and moving Bill was relatively easy considering the bunker wall and floor is pretty uniform – the stain marks along the bottom gave me the most trouble. Final results:

dyM33MW-Imgur-300x188.png
Before
32060831694_70207ab572_o2-300x188.png
After

I’m really glad I did this, even though reddit wasn’t really that impressed. But I suppose people don’t really give much thought to the effort that goes into images like this. Ah well.

Overcast Skies for KSC

Damn it was really hard to make the skies completely overcast using Environmental Visual Enhancements. I crashed the game a few times while experimenting with how far I could push out the cloud particle rendering. Ultimately it came down to increasing the size of the cloud particles more than increasing the distance at which you could see them. I still don’t fully understand the numbers used by the plugin, but I eventually got a look I liked, then took the photos around mid-day to reduce the amount of shadows seen on the ground. Since the large cloud particles made things pretty hazy, I adjusted the contrast to bring out more definition, but go too far and you can see the borders of the 2D sprites clipping into each other, so a balance must be struck. Rain was a simple after-effect added by creating a bunch of noise and then applying a motion blur to all the pixels. If you’ve ever wondered why I’ve mentioned rain but never showed it, this is why.

Progeny Launch Notes

Took me three tries to get the rocket to behave the way I wanted it to, which is to say yes I purposefully destroyed the second-stage fins to cause a problem for this launch. The first try when I triggered the action group that was supposed to destroy all the fins (using the Kaboom mod) only the lower-stage fins were destroyed, and triggering the action group a few more times destroyed the remaining fins in progression. Ok, weird. Second time I tried again, I just spam-clicked the action group button (using Action Groups Extended) but than made it disappear and the button below moved up to its place, making me also destroy the 3rd stage fins. D’oh! Finally got it right on the third try.

However going back and re-creating the flight for a video was very problematic. For one thing, try as I might to do things the way I did in the original flight the fins on the third stage would suffer aerodynamic failure and rip off. I tried multiple times to the same effect. I double-checked aero failures were enabled in the save game I use for actual missions and they were. So I just disabled aero failures in my save game I use to recreate missions. Anyways, not being able to really re-create the flight is why there’s no extended launch video.

It’s interesting to note that during the launch I was able to respond to two tweets in a way that sets the stage for some things that happen in the future that I already scripted. One example is this tweet, which happens during the second launch, and another is this tweet, which happens during the third launch. Again, I had already done these things but was able to then foreshadow them without planning to. It’s dynamics like this that I find enjoyable about what I’m doing.

I also can’t believe I allowed this mistake to slip past several editing passes. Epic fail :P

Finally, looks like my plan to quicksave with kOS on stage separations is a no-go because the game still imposes the limitation of quicksaving while under acceleration, so I will have to turn to the FMRS mod, which thanks to the awesome LinuxGuruGamer has now been updated to v1.2.2 of KSP

Deuce Design

It was a lot easier developing my second aircraft, and FAR was giving me green numbers pretty much right off the start of things after I had attached the wings and control surfaces. The original design did not include a split tail, but I realized when placing nav lights on the tail fin there was some texture Z-fighting going on and realized that even though I had placed a fin at 90° so only one was visible, I had MM symmetry selected at the time so two were placed in the same location. This then led me to try the split tail configuration and made me realize mounting and deploying payloads from the top of the fuselage would now be possible. Win!

Remises Encounter

I thought KSPTOT had things wrong, which is why I was keeping a close eye on Remises in the game and caught its intercept. I’ve notified the KSPTOT author and we’ll see if we can’t track down the issue.

 

Edited by Drew Kerman
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Posted (edited)

Thanks to all who have commented. I generally just "Like" posts that approve of the content, but I will respond to any questions

Edited by Drew Kerman
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How come did it went unnoticed?! This is great!

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I've been watching from august! you've been doing awesome!

keep up the great work!

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Operations Summary – Week of 4/17/17

Genesis/KerBalloon Collaboration Success

We are all very happy to report that today’s mission was an overall success for both the Genesis and KerBalloon programs. Although we are still awaiting the safe arrival of the balloon payload so we can’t celebrate completely just yet, today’s mission was still a great accomplishment. Genesis not only was able to deploy the KerBalloon, but also carry out an observation contract as Jeb piloted the Civvie back to KSC. Operationally there were no problems encountered and everything went off as planned. There was a small issue Jeb had to deal with from the Civvie which he dubbed “runaway trim”, where the trim wheel would slip and roll up, pitching the nose violently. He’s already informed the HAB crew to have a look at it, they suspect a loose element in the system will need to be refurbished or replaced – no one expects this to be a serious issue. Overall though his first flight with a payload attached to the Civvie he says was very manageable and after Val discovered that even pumping a little fuel to the rear can greatly assist with landing, Jeb tried it with the same results.

We expect the recovery crews to return very early tomorrow around 1st sunset. If they manage to drive close enough to KSC to be in the relatively gentle surrounding hills we will allow them to cover the final distance in darkness.

Looking ahead, we already have another upper-atmosphere research contract in the works for the same region that was flown to today, so if that is signed off on we are expecting to repeat this operation sometime early next month.

Progeny Mk3 Set to Fly Again

Teams investigating the fin issue that made the last launch go awry have had all the data they could ask for to work with after we managed to recover the second-stage booster for analysis. After much study and a bit of banging heads against the wall they have concluded the issue lies within the timing system that was hastily thrown together to manage the fuses that trigger the det-cord. Thankfully it is a simple fix that won’t necessitate a costly redesign in terms of both money and time. The new Mk1-B boosters arrived today on schedule and the VAB has already begun processing one of them to place atop the currently-completed booster stack and the science team is finishing up the payload for delivery to the VAB next week. The current launch time is set for 4/28 @ 15:30 UTC and you can view details of the rocket on its vessel page in our Flight Tracker.

Civvie Turns Profit, C7 Begins Civvie Mass-Manufacture

This week for the first time the Civvie turned a profit for us and C7 Aerospace Division with the signing of some new contracts. While the Genesis Program itself is still in the red thanks to the recent development of the Deuce, the future is looking bright for the program overall as once the Deuce enters service it will be able to offer up even more income opportunities beyond what the Civvie is capable of. The program’s growth will also allow us to phase out heavy reliance on other companies like maritime and airship operations, keeping more support services in-house and expenses down on missions.

With the start of work on the Deuce, C7 has finished up its new factory in Kravass City which will produce as many as 4 Civvies per month starting in May. There is already a pre-order list over 300 names long, so it will take a while to meet demand at the current pace but once C7 gets this factory running smoothly they plan to scale up quickly. The completed aircraft will be shipped to the nearby Kravass General Airport where kerbs will receive their flight instruction from our own Jeb and Val. The initial group consists of hand-picked top airship captains who will then become the first cadre of full-time flight instructors. By the time the first Civvie rolls off the production line in May, it will also have a newly-designed suite of cockpit instruments and our own production model will receive an upgrade.

Science/R&D Labs Begin Work on New Instruments

With the successful deployment of the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer instrument last week, Head of R&D Wernher has already focused his laser-grade attention on the next project, which of several proposals he selected to be a negative gravioli detector. A device to measure this particle will allow us to precisely determine the effect of gravitational fields around Kerbin and other bodies in the system. He and his team of crack engineers have already locked themselves up in their labs. They expect a testable prototype sometime in June or July.

Meanwhile Lead Scientist Cheranne is looking to improve some of the instruments that we already have. Both the barometer and thermometer devices currently in use are not vacuum-rated and she will work with the scientists to develop casings that can allow these instruments to function in space. Why send a barometer to space, you ask? Great question! The answer is that while we strongly suspect most of the moons and some of the planets out there don’t have an atmosphere, how can we know for sure unless we measure the presence of a vacuum? Furthermore, she wants to improve the Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer so it can take samples even in the rarefied upper atmosphere.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 468 asteroids. Poor seeing this past week kept the number of findings lower than usual, all were found via archived data that is constantly being processed. No new impact alerts have been issued.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

The Mun moves off the sun as it sets following an annular eclipse. The Tracking Station and R&D buildings can be seen in the foreground

eclipse-ending_32794988073_o-1024x640.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 4/8/17

Buckle up people, this is going to be a long one. I’m completely moved over to KSP v1.2.2 and it’s been… well it hasn’t been great but I can at least see that it will be getting better eventually. The road to get there though is still a long one and it’s been a bit more of a struggle than I anticipated, which is why it’s been over two weeks to get one week of KSA ops completed. Okay, v1.2.2 isn’t the only reason, I digress.

Getting old sucks

I’m suffering from a bout of tendonitis at the moment in my mouse hand. I felt it coming and I ignored it and now I’m paying the price. All that clickclickclickclickclick scrollscrollscrollscrollscrollscroll for hours on end has taken its toll and the tendon leading to my pointer finger cries out in pain if I use it in the slightest wrong way now. So, I just need to force myself to take more breaks. I had an issue earlier this year with carpal tunnel in my mouse hand – I could make a thumbs up, tuck my thumb into my fist and angle it downwards and it felt like the tendon in my thumb wanted to escape from beneath my skin. But rest and changing how I use my hand has healed it, so same here, changing the way I click & scroll, now using my middle finger more and keeping my pointer finger straighter more often. And yes, more breaks. Well I have a few months of magazine subscriptions to catch up on. And if you’re wondering I’m 34 going on 35 so yea I’m bellyaching a bit much here.

Back to v1.2.2

Okay so after taking a few days off completely from the computer I came back and dove into getting v1.2.2 setup and ready to rock and roll. Overall performance-wise things are roughly the same as in v1.1.3 although the default physics tick is shorter so I see the yellow clock pretty much all the time even when I uninstall all my graphics mods. But I feel no lag at all in my control inputs and the game barely stutters so I will leave it set to 0.4s as opposed to the 0.6s I was using under v1.1.3. Also loading my huge save of asteroids doesn’t work as well as it did under v1.1.3 and I had to create a batch file that uninstalls all but the mods I need for asteroids and now things are snappy again. Not a huge deal. There have been problems though. Oh yes, there have been problems. In several instances I’ve spent hours tracking down issues. I made detailed notes about them but to be honest I really don’t want to bore anyone with the details now that I’m writing about it so I’ll briefly cover some of the issues:

  • FAR developer build was voxelizing propeller spinners, which was creating a huge amount of drag. Thankfully ferram is actively working on things and had that problem fixed in a few days.
  • Wheels still suck, or its just the v1.2.2 terrain issues, but whatever the case getting the Civvie Production to takeoff on the grass was almost impossible in v1.1.3 and now it’s pretty much completely impossible. As soon as the tail wheel comes up the plane wants to swerve sideways. So now I’ve been using flying starts. I taxi out to the turf runway, use VesselMover to move the plane back a ways, mark the spot in Hyperedit’s ship dropper and then drop the airplane from about 600m up, enough for me to recover just above the ground and then fly low and slow over the runway to “takeoff”, where I begin to record telemetry data. Landing, ironically, is a lot better now tho. Here’s an example of an actual landing that didn’t flip out but came close, although sadly it still happens.
  • v1.2.2 allows you to add the mass of kerbals to the command part by specifying their weight in the physics.cfg file, but the game doesn’t show this mass change in the editor, only in flight. However Kerbal Engineer Redux does show the mass change depending on how many kerbals you have crewing the part – but it also adds this mass to every part you place. This was a confusing bug I had to track down.
  • An even more annoying but was a NRE causing the game to fail to finish loading at the very end of the load sequence. I swear I was able to reproduce it with the B9 HX parts installed and even narrowed it down to a single part but when I did more testing adding mods back in and going down to stock the reproduceability went away and now I’ve just come to accept its a thing that happens, although very rarely now. No idea how it was happening so constantly before. [addendum 4/20 – this issue has not appeared since. But if it comes back I’ll know to look at the B9 HX parts first]
  • The worst was when I noticed my command modules weighing more than they were defined in the part.cfg file. After paring down my mods I got the info window that shows up when you go to select parts to show the proper mass and I thought I had things narrowed down but then I noticed that the part itself when placed in the editor still showed the wrong mass! So I had to almost go back to square one but finally found the EVA Parachutes & Ejection Seats mod was the culprit, adding chutes for every seat regardless of whether a kerbal is sitting in it. And the stock info window doesn’t show this mass change unless you have UpgradesGUI installed.
  • I can’t use VesselMover to position aircraft as easily as I did in v1.1.3 to set them up to take photos from the onboard cameras because it no longer respects the AirPark when it is activated and still moves the aircraft up and down. The new altitude adjustment ability is waaaay too slow to be of any real use also. So it took me a lot of experimenting and had to stop for the day twice (otherwise my fist would have gone through my monitor) before I finally came up with a new system using VesselMover and HyperEdit. It’s still not ideal but it works. Most of the time.
  • I also can’t use VesselMover as well as in v1.1.3 to calculate overland distances by enabling the vessel move, starting a Persistent Trail and then just slewing the craft along and letting the trail calculate the distance as I go. Now it updates the trail very infrequently and usually only when I place the aircraft so I have to draw out straight lines only. Once I finally have an updated Kerbalmaps plugin though for my Flight Tracker I can use a Leaflet extension to let me draw lines to calculate distances on that.
  • Oh yea, and this after finally getting the Civvie into the air and attempting to fly a mission >:\

Anyways, point is things have been rough but as I’m getting past each hurdle less and less seem to stand in my way. Hopefully it will be back to smooth sailing over the next week or so. Please? Because going back to v1.1.3 looks like it will be more of a pain in the ass than I imagined there too. Apparently it can’t load any of my saves anymore? These saves are still in the 1.1.3 folder and I have no idea how they could have been corrupted. What the love ever. Onwards!

Peak twitter?

Untitled8.png

I didn’t think I had peaked all that much on twitter but when Tory Bruno retweeted me I expected at least a small bump in my follower count. Nope. I really don’t know what conclusions to draw from that given earlier retweets from popular space accounts have come with a nice jump to the follower count by the dozens in some cases. Oh well.

Line of Sight for Kerbalism

Since ditching RemoteTech for Kerbalism one of the things I’ve missed most is line of sight comms. Kerbalism gives you a connection as long as you can see Kerbin, which means if you’re on Kerbin you always have a signal. I don’t play like that so I had to come up with my own solution, which was a kOS script that draws a vector from the craft to the Tracking Station and I can follow the line to see if I’m clear of the horizon and/or obstacles.

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170328_150923-300x188.png

Jool Retconned

As I mentioned in some earlier Desk Notes, Jool’s appearance has been changed as of v1.2.2 and I’ve since gone back and made all previous images of it update to the new look. I screwed up with twitter a little bit though, because I deleted the tweets from March before I downloaded the archive and so they weren’t there to edit when I went looking. But all other instances have either been updated or deleted.

Better batch scripts

I’ve gone and redone my batch scripts for loading the parts I need for specific vehicles and made it so that I can also unload those parts if I want to slim down my install a little bit. Unfortunately removing a vehicle may also remove shared assets that other vehicles use so I’m not sure how well I will be able to keep track of when this happens to remind myself to re-install the affected craft. If it gets messy, I will rethink things. Here’s an example:


@echo off
set /p decision= "A = Add | D = Delete | X = Cancel> "
if "%decision%" == "a" (
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines" 550.cfg model.mu fueltTanks_cm.dds model002.dds 
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural" "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural" 
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit"
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod"
  robocopy "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Build\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount" "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount"
) else (
  if "%decision%" == "d" (
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\550.cfg"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\model.mu"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\fueltTanks_cm.dds"
    del "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\Engine\propEngines\model002.dds"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\OldAssets\FuelTank\MK1FuselageStructural"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\SXT\Parts\Aviation\OldAssets\Command\mk1InlineCockpit"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\ZepKit"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\HLAirships\Parts\Aero\AirshipPod"
    rmdir /s /q "D:\Steam Games\SteamApps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData\RadialEngineMountsPPI\doubleRadialEngineMount"
  )
)

Really you can enter anything but “a” or “d” and it will cancel, but whatever it just looks cooler like that.

Another image editing example

Because I like to remind you all that nothing is what it seems, here is a look at one of the photos taken from the Civvie on its last flight:

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170408_201230-300x188.
Before
Untitled2-1-300x188.png
After

The funky prop shadow was removed by stopping the engine, and the trees were from a completely different photo attempt taken at a slightly different pitch and bank angle so I had to merge them together carefully, but I just hated that bare slope.

Crap I can’t believe I wrote all this. My hand hurts, I need a break. Time to go outside and check out Jool… errr, I mean Jupiter at opposition!

 

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This is really good so far, I like the (what seems to be) realistic progression and the mod choice, the craft are very good looking. 

Keep up the good great work!

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1. This is awesome! 

2. 

Quote
  • An even more annoying but was a NRE causing the game to fail to finish loading at the very end of the load sequence. I swear I was able to reproduce it with the B9 HX parts installed and even narrowed it down to a single part but when I did more testing adding mods back in and going down to stock the reproduceability went away and now I’ve just come to accept its a thing that happens, although very rarely now. No idea how it was happening so constantly before. [addendum 4/20 – this issue has not appeared since. But if it comes back I’ll know to look at the B9 HX parts first]

I was hitting the same problem yesterday with KSP, on all my installs, without that parts mod. I fixed it by restarting my computer. If it happens again, try restarting your computer first and see if that fixes it, assuming that wasn't part of your debugging process before.

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Operations Summary – Week of 4/24/17

Progenitor Program Reaches Upper Atmosphere

At long last, after numerous setbacks and failed launches, the Progenitor program claimed victory earlier today when it launched a Progeny Mk3 rocket into the upper atmosphere, attaining a maximum height (apokee) of 22,771.90m before falling back to Kerbin and being recovered from the Kerblantic by the Maritime Service Vessel Lymun 9.2km ESE of the launch pad. Full analysis of the launch data will have to wait until the teams return from a well-deserved vacation for most of next week but as with all launches we expect to learn a lot. Although the goal of 18+km has been reached we still have a ways to go and data from this launch will help show us how to get there. Still, rounding upwards we have reached 1/3 of the way to space, which puts a significant portion of the thicker atmosphere behind us. After igniting, the third stage boosted for a mere 2.4s whereas the upcoming Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engine will have a run time of 31s. Could the first Progeny Mk4 reach space? Engineers say it is possible, but no one is getting their hopes up and are ready for another long slog with the Mk4 to get completely out of the atmosphere. You can also watch a video of the launch to see how the fin shredding is supposed to work after the debacle of the previous launch. You don’t see the third stage fins explode because they are timed to shred several seconds later than the previous stages to ensure the booster drifts far enough away to not damage the payload with any debris.

Expect more news from the Progenitor teams next week after we return to regular ops.

Genesis Program Updates

This was a busy week for the Genesis program, which received its shipment of all the parts needed to begin building its new Deuce aircraft at the start of next month. The Civvie Production model trim wheel has been repaired but we are keeping it in the HAB to get it further prepped for the next joint KerBalloon/Genesis mission in May, which was announced today to take place on the 8th. It will cover a similar area to this month’s mission so the logistics of the operation will not change much. Capt Jeb will be back to fly this mission while Cdr Val takes his place training upcoming Civvie flight instructors over at Kravass General Airport. While Jeb has been away and the Civvie Production model in the HAB, Val has taken the Civvie Prototype out on two separate missions (1 | 2) this past week for science contracts. Finally, we’ve used most of this month’s profits to place a purchase order for two more Civvies and will get the 1st and 3rd units to roll off the new production line next month. The 2nd & 4th will go to the training program at Kravass. This will continue to give us the ability to operate two aircraft simultaneously while also now having a third in reserve. We still plan to retire the Civvie Prototype in the Kravass City Air History Museum, which will happen when we accept delivery of the first new Civvie as Jeb flies over the Prototype to bring back the new aircraft.

New Remises Prediction

Despite their best efforts astronomers could not determine the fault that led them to inaccurately predict that Remises would encounter Mun later this year, when in fact it just recently passed through Mun’s SOI for the 3rd time since it was discovered. They are hoping it was simply a data-entry error and so after triple-checking their observations they have plugged the numbers in again to their orbital calculations and have come up with a new prediction for the next Munar SOI pass: Sept 7th of this year. They will continue to monitor Remises on a regular basis to ensure it doesn’t prematurely encounter Mun without their knowledge should there still be some error in their prediction.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 494 asteroids. The ATN has also announced they have completed upgrades to key scopes in their network, and are expecting to see a small bump in discovery rates moving forward. The big gains won’t come until their remote observatory posts begin to come online in 2019. The candidate sites have all been identified and final selections are expected in May.

In related news the Arekibo radio telescope project remains behind schedule, facing more access problems than they anticipated to the construction site. They hope to finally begin blasting the dish basin by mid-May.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Not just two planets at appulse in this photo, but two pairs of planets! Duna and Sarnus gather up top while Eve and Urlum buddy up below. Neidon also makes its dawn appearance.

double-appulse_33177768284_o-1024x640.pn

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

Spoiler

Written on 4/15/17

Still holding on to a two week lead, and the “vacation” for the KSA after this last launch will help, although I still have to go through each day and monitor asteroids and keep an eye on Kerbin’s moonlets and any celestial happenings, I can at least progress faster than during a “normal” day of operations. Hopefully over this weekend I can catch back up to 3 weeks and ease back on the throttle and have more spare time for other stuff, which would be great because I really really really want to see if I can get this 3D model of the Kerbol system working in my flight tracker with the OPM planets and moons added as well. Replacing those static image maps would be awesome.

Civvie Mk2 Redo

So this week was the first time I tried to fly the Civvie Mk2 Prototype aircraft in v1.2.2. I had previously flown the Production model with no real issues, but the Mk2 was a whole different story. For some reason it really really likes to pitch up now and I don’t really know what has changed. I removed the chute on top (just when I’m flying not officially) in case some FAR/RealChute bug was at play and also changed the landing gear from the two-wheeled medium gear attached straight to the wings to the one-wheeled light gear strutted to the fuselage at the same height/width as the fixed landing gear (can’t use those at all). That helped but I was still forced to apply a permanent amount of down-pitch trim to get the aircraft to handle close to what it did in v1.1.3 (I have videos of every flight so I can go back and check). And although I did attempt a normal takeoff it didn’t want to cooperate and so I’m using flying starts for this one too.

4th Time is the Charm

Okay so really 3rd time since I deliberately messed with the last launch, which could have reached the upper atmosphere. But where’s the drama in that? This was also the first time launching the Mk3 in v1.2.2 so I expected problems and there were some – mainly the fact that all the boosters had their atmosphere curves changed so the performed differently. The first-stage booster accelerated the stack so fast the rocket came apart shortly after it finished its burn! So I went back and checked the values I was using in v1.1.3 and was stunned to find all 3 boosters had the same atmosphere curves. This was astonishing because I had discovered this before even rebooting the KSA and called out RoverDude on it, who then released a fix shortly before the reboot and so I could have sworn I was using boosters in v1.1.3 that each had different atmosphere curves – but I wasn’t?? What the crap!? Even the ISP numbers you see when you hover over the engines for the rocket pages is what I thought was being used (have since updated them to all be the same now). This would be a huge retcon that I couldn’t begin to even handle, soooo now I have the ability to “upgrade” these booster should I need to down the line. Yeeesh.

The flight itself took the usual few tries to get right. The first attempt is when I realized something was wrong with the booster performance, the second I panicked when the payload actually splashed down in water and rushed to recover it before it sank too far (which I know now isn’t possible, you can recover it even from the ocean floor) and forgot to save the Persistent Trails or Graphotron data. The third launch I somehow forgot to set the Graphotron to enable on launch, even though I literally have a checklist I follow that has the item to set that option. Epic fail. Finally I pulled it off properly on the 4th launch. How symbolic.

Filming the recreation was easier than I thought it would be, although that came with a few minor issues as well. The final result was consistently so close to the actual flight that I just recorded the whole thing in a single take after the initial launch.

I initially had the payload landing on the deck of the recovery ship until I realized just how fast 4.6m/s is so I had it land close by in the water.

Also I should note that leaving the rocket out the night before came as an idea from the previous launch, it wasn’t an idea I used in the previous launch because I had planned to do it this launch.

Flight Tracker Overhaul

I think I’m getting close to the point where I can begin work on the next major version bump for the Flight Tracker. All the major systems are in place and while there are improvements I want to do to existing features (like the 3D system applet mentioned above) there really aren’t any more major features I want to add (the Deep Space Network communications page would be a separate thing). Flight Tracker/Crew Roster v5 will be done completely in Javascript, using AJAX to place calls to ASP scripts to pull information from the database. This means that I can update various parts of the page without having to reload the entire page in the process. I like that. I should also be able to integrate notifications better and everything should just run cleaner, mainly in the code which I will clean up a lot.

Dunno when I’m going to have time to start this but it’s definitely on my radar now.

 

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Posted (edited)

Operations Summary – Week of 5/1/17

Progeny Mk3 Final Flight Report

We have analyzed the data from the last launch and have found it to be overall satisfactory but have learned that the Mk3 had the potential to get even higher, if not by much. The ascent for the final launch called for the flight controller to initiate booster ignition during coast once the pitch of the rocket had decreased by 2° since the previous booster had been decoupled. Launch occurred at a pitch of 85° and the initial acceleration of the rocket pushed the nose up to 86° before the spin was initiated and pitch stabilized back towards 85°. The coast period of the second stage was defined by the gradual decrease in pitch from 85° to 83° over the following 22 seconds. After the second stage was dropped, the third stage began its coast from 82° – but it never reached 80° and the booster was ignited when the backup parameter was met as the vertical speed dropped to 0. This led to a momentary flattening out of the trajectory that ultimately cost us at least several hundred meters in altitude.

Progeny-Mk3-4-e1492626528723-300x111.png
The purple line is altitude. Note how flat the trajectory becomes before the final boost. Click the image for the full telemetry data

The Progenitor engineers agree we are getting closer to an optimal ascent profile but much more tweaking and experimenting needs to be done. For the Mk4 we have several changes in mind. First, we are going to be playing around with the amount of thrust produced by the first and second stage boosters, as currently they push the rocket’s dynamic pressure values far higher than is nominal. Even though we know the rocket will hold together after the punishing 190kPa endured by the first Mk3 launch, the amount of drag produced is excessive. This final launch saw a Max Q of 96.8kPa during the first stage boost and 51.9kPa during the second stage boost.  We would like to keep dynamic pressure below 40kPa during both segments of the flight (third stage boost topped only 5.6kPa due to the thinner atmosphere, and we can throttle our LF/O engine so only the first two stages are an issue here as far as dynamic pressure is concerned). We will still be launching the first Mk4 with a hot stage ascent to get a baseline for performance, but after that these considerations will be put into effect.

Furthermore we plan to tweak the fin angles once again, since the spin-rate of the last launch was still a bit too fast, and extra spin just uses up energy the rocket needs to climb higher. We feel the first stage fins are good, but the second and third stage’s pitch angles need to be lessened some more due to their longer flight time. We will be dialing them back each 25° which will make the second stage 0.85° and the third stage 0.50°. Additionally, there was still a little loss of altitude gain in the second stage coast period so we will reduce the coast until the rocket pitches over only 1.5° instead of 2°.

Finally, we will be changing the backup ignition parameter to ignite the booster if vertical speed falls below 100m/s while pitch delta remains below 1.5° – we expect this to only be an issue with the third stage and 100m/s is just a starting estimation based on the simulated performance of the LF/O engine.

Here is a look at all 4 launch trajectories together:

ksp_x64exe_dx9_20170417_035959_33292642173_o-300x188.png ksp_x64exe_dx9_20170417_040159_33713471200_o-300x188.png

Now that the Mk3 has reached its goal of breaching the upper atmosphere (18km), work has shifted fully over to the Mk4, which we hope will be able to reach space at last. This last launch, when the rocket fell below 100m/s in the third stage coast it was already at 15.7km. With the tweaks we plan to make outlined above we expect to ignite the LF/O engine just within the limits of the upper atmosphere, which means a large portion of the thick atmosphere will be behind it. However if the Mk4 fails to reach space we have two alternate options to explore – 1) strap 3 Mk1-A boosters to the first stage booster and 2) add a second tank to the third stage for the LF/O engine. If needed, we’ll cover the pros/cons of both.

The Mk4 rocket for the first launch is already almost fully assembled from parts that were delivered last month, we await only the delivery of the first LF/O engines in order to set a launch date, which we expect to hear news on next week.

Genesis & KerBalloon Go for 2nd Joint Mission

After the success of their first collaboration last month the two programs are teaming up again to deploy another high-altitude balloon over the same region as last time, only 17km further north. The mission is set to depart on Monday. If all goes well, a third mission is already planned for later in the month, which will take things even further inland, 31km further north. Captain Jeb will be back at KSC this weekend to fly this mission while Commander Val heads up to Kravass City to take her turn instructing the new Civvie flight trainers for two weeks.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 515 asteroids. No new alerts.

April Finances Posted

For almost the entirety of last month it seemed we would be looking at another deficit in our net income, but with the success of the Progeny Mk3 and several new contracts at the end of the month we have closed the books on April fully in the green. You can review all financial details here.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

We had our first transit of Minmus this year, and it was a near-miss with the moon only partially moving across the sun’s disk, although from this photo it seems to be fully on it. You can see a composite of the transit here with the Moho and Eve transits shown as well. This year will set a record for transits, with a total of 5. Two more transits are scheduled for later this year, a second Minmus transit on June 29th and a second Moho transit on October 15th.

minmus-transit-no1-2017_33924555512_o-1024x640.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 4/19/17

Suffered a bad bout of writer’s block so despite the 5-day KSA vacay I’m still not caught up on things to have my 3-week lead time back, but I’m still able to work on getting caught up. Nothing yet has caused me to stop moving forward and work on things that have to be done – for example the Civvie instrument panel remodel is due to debut with the first delivery of the new aircraft from the C7 factory in Kravass but until that day comes for me to write I don’t have to sit down and work on the IVA instrument placing – hopefully I will be back to 3-weeks lead before then so I don’t have to risk falling further behind. I’m at 2.5 weeks currently. I guess I should also admit that “writer’s block” is just a general term for loss of motivation – although even in times like these my mind is still thinking ahead to things in the future, eventually I work back up to wanting to work to get to those points I’m plotting out in my head. love yes I want to go to space already! :P

More v1.2.2 Woes

Still struggling to ensure everything is running smoothly on v1.2.2. This week I was forced to admit that stock Asteroid-Redirect Mission asteroids were no longer being generated in the game and I had to take the time to investigate why. Turns out something changed in either Kopernicus or the stock game itself that has affected Kopernicus, but originally I had my own asteroid spawn config setup to only check for the possibility of a new asteroid 60 times a day and now the game, using the same config values, seems to check far, far less. I had to lower the value a lot to get asteroids to finally show up. It was made more complicated by Custom Asteroids, which I thought was outright suppressing the stock spawner but the real reason was a bit trickier – since it would take so long for the stock asteroids to show up, Custom Asteroids would have already spawned enough unknown objects to exceed the maximum amount allowed by the stock spawner. I thought it was using its own internal count of asteroids spawned, not the number of untracked objects. Just another example of a few hours lost to getting v1.2.2 playing nicely.

Cross-post to the KSP Forum

I finally found a good reason to revive the KSP forum thread for the KSA, which is to repost these weekly sitreps much like I cross-post them to Reddit (or the galleries at least). Originally I wanted to use the embedded tweets feature (paste a tweet link – done) of the forum to compose mission reports, but that would have been a lot of tweets and the thread would have been hell to scroll through. In the previous KSA iteration I stuck them in spoiler tags, but those were images of tweets, and the embedded tweets don’t work in spoiler boxes. No way am I taking the time again to make images of every tweet to post, especially when my current mission report format here on the site (which also used to use those same tweet images) looks so damn nice with an embedded timeline. So it just languished for a while until the fix to the imgur album embeds gave me the idea to redo it this past weekend to hold all the operation summaries and will continue to update there weekly. Should help bring about a bit more exposure.

Also in the process I realized I had failed to retconn any Jool images that were featured as celestial images of the week in previous ops summaries, as well as in imgur albums where Jool was used as the cover image. Fixed!

Complex Finances

Keeping track of the funds that flow through the KSA’s coffers has gotten a bit more complicated now that Genesis and KerBalloon are doing joint missions, which means they should each share in the profits of the contracts that are fulfilled in the process. I didn’t want to have to go into deciding exactly how much each program should get given their level of involvement and the amount of funds they have to expend relative to each other and just made it an even 50/50 split. But then Genesis also has a 50/50 profit/expense split agreement with C7, which is a completely separate company that I don’t keep records for. So if a joint contract payout is 6,356 funds, that would mean that KerBalloon would get 3,178 while Genesis would only get 1,589 after their split with C7. However since C7 profits do not factor into KSA profits when I make the income entry for the monthly financial sheet (not the program/craft financial sheet) I have to record the total income as being only 4,767, which is less the 1,589 that was paid to C7 and thus shouldn’t end up in KSA’s accounts. What’s that you say? It’s not so complicated at all? Great! You’re hired as my new accountant.

Also I realized this past week I had forgotten to include the astronaut’s salary payments in the expense columns for the past three months. Whoops!

I also added two additional sheets to my finances workbook that let me better see at a glance what all the craft and crew are currently doing, when they’re doing it until, and what if anything is planned for them to do afterwards. Same data as in my text file with the outline of events to complete but just more condensed and easier to look over to ensure I don’t continue to mistakenly reference astronauts doing some event when they are actually someplace else. Aircraft now also have fields for tracking flight hours and distance, since I will have more than one of each.

150+ Mods Remain

So yea, I just did a quick count and there are still over 150 mods, the majority of them part packs, that I still have to install and check out under v1.2.2. This is only something I can do in whatever spare time I have (which is none at the moment) until it comes to the point where I need to build something completely new and want all the parts possible to choose from – which thankfully is still a few months off. But still. 150+ mods. Yikes. Thankfully the upcoming v1.3 release of KSP means most mods are in feature lock and I’m not spending a lot of time keeping a ton of my mods up to date, which is kind of the reason I tend to remain a version behind stock for the most part.

 

Edited by Drew Kerman
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Operations Summary – Week of 5/8/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Launch Time – May 18th @ 16:45 UTC

With this week’s arrival of the first two Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer engines Lead Engineer Simon was able to get a solid estimate on how long it would take to attach them to the fuel tanks and integrate that into the already mostly-complete Mk4 booster stack. If the schedule holds we should have our first completed Progeny Mk4 rocket ready to be rolled out next Wednesday prior to launch early on Thursday. This first launch will follow previous first launches and use hot staging to subject the rocket to extreme levels of dynamic pressure during flight to see how the new third stage handles itself. In other words, no – we will not be going to space next week. The following launch however has a pretty good shot at making it most if not all of the way. We hope to turn around and launch the second rocket before the end of the month.

Civvie Prototype Retired

This week we finally retired our prototype Civvie aircraft, which logged roughly 11 hours of flight time over a total of 2,325km. Captain Jeb had the honor of flying the mission since Commander Val was on rotation already at Kravass General Airport training the new cadre of pilots and future instructors for the production model Civvie. The flight itself almost didn’t make it off the ground when a strong storm was blowing in from the south on the day it was set to depart. With a lot of work from the ground crews we were able to compact a new turf runway in a few hours out on the field to allow the prototype to depart to the south and into the winds that would have knocked it over had it tried to takeoff facing east or west. The aircraft overflew Umbarg on its way west to the desert and we hear some aircraft enthusiasts went topside to spot it. Navigation was done mainly by compass as the prototype does not carry any radio navigation equipment common to airships (but this will come standard in the new production models being manufactured in Kravass) and Jeb had no trouble finding his way to the airport itself, as the 5km+ peak of Kravass Mountain was easy to spot over the horizon once he got close enough. Jeb plans to return to KSC with our first brand-new Civvie next Monday after the severe storm that swept through KSC recently has cleared well out.

If you want a full overview of the Civvie Prototype’s service history, see this article.

Second Success in KerBalloon/Genesis Joint Mission

Once again the two programs teamed up to deploy a high-altitude KerBalloon unit further inland than the KerBalloon program’s limited supply of UTVs could achieve on their own. The only major changes from the previous mission were the flight path of the Civvie, which had to route around the mountains this time to satisfy a second contract, and the departure time for the UTVs, which left KSC at first sunrise so they could be back the same day. Jeb was extremely pleased that he was able to climb the Civvie directly over the mountains this time without having to circle around to gain more altitude. Although control wasn’t a serious issue before, the KerBalloon unit mounting was still adjusted slightly to better improve the center of mass of the aircraft. A low cloud ceiling during the mission prevented the airship comms relay from being able to maintain a station higher than the mountains, which meant it had to move between allowing us to talk to the Civvie or the UTV teams after the KerBalloon unit was dropped and Jeb headed south on his secondary objective – however this did not lead to any problems during the mission. Everyone is already getting prepped for the next joint mission, planned for May 16th.

The KerBalloon program did suffer a mission failure also this week however when the sea launch of a high-altitude unit was overcome by mechanical issues and the onset of the storm that whipped through in the following days. We have several more marine contracts to fulfill so hopefully weather next week will be more cooperative.

ATN Database Update & Deep Space Network Details

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 542 asteroids. No new alerts.

The ATN also revealed this week its selection for sites where three new observatories will be built. We will be using these sites as well to assist with tracking and communicating between craft in space. The press release has all the details.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

With Val away training new pilots we haven’t really had much in the way of celestial photos this past week but Bob was outside the other day and happened to catch Minmus and Mun near appulse. Fun fact: Minmus is 3.3x smaller than Mun, but it is also 3.9x further away. So, if Mun and Minmus were to swap places in orbit around Kerbin, they would appear to be very close to the same size.

mun-and-minmus_33826231700_o-1024x640.pn

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

Spoiler

Written on 5/2/17

So, despite trying my best to get ahead I’ve fallen further behind, but overall things are moving forward rather well, just not as smoothly as I would like. I’m still working on the weekend of the 12th – have it all planned out just have to schedule the tweets and edit the content, then I can move on to the 15th, but that still leaves me barely two weeks of lead time. Ugh. Best get on with it…

Cross Country Flying

Longest flight in the Civvie to date went well, although long flights are still a bit stressful because I have had the computer crash on me once while flying, so I know it’s possible it can happen again. Thankfully though since I’ve switched to taking screenshots every second with which to compile into a video afterwards, if the computer does freeze up all the images will already be written to disk. Additionally the VOID log file is written out from the game so that will be complete up to the point of the crash. I can then use that information to restart the flight from where it left off. The Persistent Trails data will be lost, but really I just use that to track my flight distance, and that data will be saved with the screencaps.

There was a slight issue with battery power that led me to enable the infinite electricity cheat since I couldn’t figure out where the unusually-high drain was coming from. Turns out I had Kerbalism‘s pressurization enabled. Also the latest update to Advanced Jet Engine fixed a bug I didn’t realize was a bug where the engine alternator would produce 15 EC/s at idle, now it produces 0 until I throttle up, which means I have to enable batteries until I have taken off, so there’s a good deal of drain that has not been accounted for in previous flights. I’ve done a best estimate and removed two batteries from my inventory.

Still had some trouble with my joystick’s roller knob I use to control the pitch axis, and a few occasions the trim would run away from me. I chalked that up to “turbulence” since a storm was supposed to be blowing in anyways. Overall I have found the Advanced Fly-By-Wire trim controls to be usable, although I still think it’s stupid they use a relative axis.

I also need to improve my flight planning. I was never good at this either when I flew Flight Simulator, although I did have a flight planner program that I used. Basically, I took an educated guess for this flight that the Civvie would have enough fuel to make it to Kravass. I had no idea what I was going to do if the fuel ran out along the way, but thankfully that wasn’t an issue. Still, I don’t ever want it to be an issue because that would be rather embarrassing even if it does happen in real life for various reasons. Will have to do more research into how the game’s engines work under AJE to see if I can better calculate aircraft range.

Building the airport was my first experience creating a new base with Kerbal Konstructs and I didn’t have any serious issues, although it did seem at one point my changes weren’t being saved, but when I quit and reloaded the game they were. In retrospect I could have used a scaled up platform like the one upon which the hangars and barracks sit to provide a surface to place the runway upon so it would be level, but most real world runways are sloped to some degree (some extremely so) and it adds to the challenge.

Distance Calculator Tool

I mentioned a few desk notes ago that I wrote up a short script to let me get the distance between two points using the Haversine formula for a perfect sphere. Well I have since upgraded the tool to allow for multiple waypoints and multiple bodies and showing the total distance and leg distance in km or m. It can be extremely accurate when used in conjunction with the Ship Lander from HyperEdit, since you can tell it to use your current location and it will fill in the Lat/Lng fields with like 20 numbers past the decimal point for extreme precision. I can measure down to individual meters. Probably could have used it to get the length of the KSC footrace but I just drove it in a UTV instead and used Persistent Trails to record the distance.

Pictures Still a Pain in the Ass

I think the most time spent on anything are some of these images I put together. It can be a few hours total for a single image if things don’t cooperate. Case in point would be this image, which I just had to do because it showed off Scatterer‘s new experimental water shader that had contact foam and refraction. First I had to restart the game a few times because the batch file that loaded the parts for the small boat didn’t seem to be working, until I realized I was missing a command directive that told the robocopy command to include subfolders when it copied stuff. Then when placing the cutter in the water and then switching back to it from the smaller boat the game would crash and the log would be full of spam from G-Effects and Dynamic Deflection, of all things. Bizarre, so I just temporarily removed the mods. After setting everything up from one angle and location a stupid terrain seam in the ground beneath the water was blatantly obvious and impossible to remove in post thanks to it being under the water and the refraction being in effect. So then I go to move everything down the shore a bit away from the seam and for some reason after using VesselMover the cutter doesn’t want to sink into the ocean again and just hovers over the surface, so I had to recover and re-launch it. Then at one point switching between vessels the cutter was launched into orbit and the entire game was loveed up when I managed to get back to a surface vessel. But at least the image came out well!

The hangar nighttime photo was another pain, but again well worth it. It is definitely my favorite open hangar shot so far. I took two exterior photos, one with the Ambient Light Adjustment turned way down and another with it way up. I layered the bright one over the dark one and erased all but the light shaft with a soft eraser brush to get the light pouring out of the HAB onto the tarmac. I added a third layer of the bright photo so I could separately control how the Civvie parked on the tarmac outside was lit by light bouncing off the ground. Then I just had to get an internal shot lined up, black out the HAB windows and also reduce the amount of light on the skylight walls. But then after all this I realized the Deuce should be visible! I thought at first I would just say it had been moved well off to the side, but the game was still running with the camera at the same angle so I just merged the Deuce construction save file and managed to setup all those parts off in the distance without moving the camera. Oh yes, and I also placed a girder out there so that I could take a photo with and without the HAB crews so I could edit out those marshallers outside the building. That gap between the Deuce parts? That’s where a marshaller stands because when I placed those parts I had the HAB crew re-enabled.

Batch File KSP Run Detection

I have a batch file that removes all non-essential gameplay/visual mods so I can clean up execution for the tons of asteroids when I load the ATN save, and also a batch file that removes all visual mods when I need to fly a vessel with good FPS. Problem is I’ve accidentally run these batch files while an instance of KSP is still running, so it only copies out the files it can access and are not locked because the game is using them (mainly the DLLs). It’s not a huge deal I just have to re-merge everything but it’s still a pain so now these files can detect if KSP is running and not execute.


tasklist /FI "IMAGENAME eq KSP_x64.exe" 2>NUL | find /I /N "KSP_x64.exe">NUL
if "%ERRORLEVEL%"=="0" (
  echo KSP is running!!
  pause
  exit /b
)
... else it's ok - do actual stuff

Aircraft Photos Finally Consistent

At last, I have a means of setting up the aircraft so I can take photos with all my visual mods installed as if they were snapped during the actual flight, when no visual mods were used. I use the data displayed from the video capture to set the altitude, pitch, heading and roll of the aircraft and since moving to v1.2.2 this has been really hard since VesselMover no longer plays nice with AirPark and I can’t keep the aircraft at its proper altitude while using VesselMover to adjust pitch, roll and heading. So here’s my new method:

  1. Use this FCC page to translate the Lat/Lng location recorded by Kerbal Engineer Redux from degrees to decimal
  2. Plug these numbers into HyperEdit’s Ship Lander and land the aircraft at that location (tricky sometimes on extreme slopes)
  3. Pickup and rotate the aircraft with VesselMover to the proper orientation.
  4. Quicksave while the aircraft is still in the air
  5. Place the ship back on the ground and toggle AirPark active
  6. Return to the space center
  7. Copy the nrm, rot and CoM vessel parameters from the quicksave to the main save and adjust the alt and hgt parameters to ASL and AGL values for the aircraft at that location
  8. Save and reload the persistence file
  9. Load the aircraft and initiate 5x time warp to stop a very slow sink rate

I’m pretty sure now the fact that the three positional variables I mentioned above are quaternions that if the aircraft is not above that specific point on the surface this is what causes it to reorient itself when it loads. This method is solid, and between two restarts of the game to enable/disable terrain scatter allowed me to take two identical photos and create this photo of Kravass airport, which in reality when including terrain scatter has trees sticking up through the runway since Kerbal Konstructs can’t tell scatter objects not to spawn under its objects yet. Below are the two images used to create the combined photo. I was also able to make use of a config parameter re-introduced to Scatterer that keeps the IVA from being clipped in the second photo, although it introduced some black lines of the internal model I had to remove which is why the photo on the left has the default clip plane set.

KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170426_033436-300x188.png KSP_x64.exe_DX9_20170426_032052-300x188.png

Have you actually read this far? Well, kudos! But even if you just skimmed here’s a cool instance of asteroids swinging around Kerbin on opposite trajectories (unfortunately they remain undiscovered while doing so):

Untitled2-2-1024x565.png

And I also see an undiscovered asteroid that crosses close enough to Minmus to show a close approach marker when its targeted. It’s long odds but I have enough asteroids being generated that there just might be a Minmus SOI crosser at some point.

 

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Operations Summary – Week of 5/15/17
 

Progeny Mk4 Launch Analysis

After an entire day studying the telemetry data (basic Tlm) and launch video from the first launch of the Progeny Mk4 yesterday, engineers have reached the tentative conclusion that high dynamic pressures caused the tanks in the liquid fuel stage to either collapse or break free of their internal mountings and trigger an explosion when the two propellants mixed. They still have not completely ruled out some sort of malfunction with the engine itself during combustion, or perhaps a combination of these two factors, but they do feel that high levels of dynamic pressure are the main cause. The third stage’s structural integrity was probably compromised during the second stage boost and only held together until separation occurred. This failure however isn’t really a setback, because we purposely threw as much dynamic pressure at the rocket as possible in order to test theoretical stress limits of the rocket’s various components. We are now pretty sure that those theoretical limits have been exceeded in the case of the liquid fuel tanks.

In order to make sure the engine wasn’t an issue during flight, we will be static-firing the second one on the launch pad early next week to ensure that it is performing at the expected levels of thrust under various throttle settings. Since these engines are not designed to be lit off more than once, it will take another two days to refurbish & replace the ignition system before it can be integrated into the stack. We’re aiming to launch NET May 30th.

This next launch isn’t going to make things much better for the rocket either, because now that we know how fast not to go in the lower atmosphere, the question remains how fast can we go in the upper atmosphere? Once the air starts to thin out the rocket can really begin to accelerate and the lack of air to transfer heat away means that thermal build-up is a serious concern that will need to be managed. First though we need to find out where the limits are. We will be switching to a normal launch profile for the second launch, coasting between stages, to ease up on the dynamic pressures early in the flight. The third stage will fire at full thrust for its entire duration and the rocket will either burn itself up or make it through intact and possibly off into space.

First New Civvie Delivered

Although his return was delayed last week by a storm, Jeb was finally able to take delivery of our newest Civvie aircraft and fly it back home, following the same route he took in the Prototype, although he made a small mistake on one leg. When we accept delivery of our third Civvie next week Val will fly the same route yet again but at a higher 4km so that Genesis engineers can do a comparative analysis of both flights to study the performance of the aircraft. The second Civvie was put to work straight-away the following day on a joint mission with KerBalloon and Jeb is very happy with the new cockpit avionics, which are currently being installed in the original Civvie production model that was built here in the HAB.

Record Week for KerBalloon

In a flurry of activity the KerBalloon teams, including Specialists Bill & Bob, carried out a record 4 missions this week, 2 over land led by Bill and 2 out at sea led by Bob.

Bill, being the land-lubber of the two, took charge of the recovery efforts for the latest joint KB/Genesis mission, which went off without any troubles although the balloon only reached a height 2.2km above the contracted altitude at which data collection was to begin, so that wasn’t much of a payout from Bloeting. They then had to turn around the next day and run another mission 44km north on the other side of the bay to launch and recover another high-altitude balloon, this time with a much better ascent to nearly max altitude.

Meanwhile, Bob was out at sea taking care of two high-altitude contracts of his own, the first which was delayed from last week due to the storm at sea & Tongjess’ engine problems. Due to part shortages, after recovering that payload he and his team had to spend several hours removing the control unit and attaching it to their second payload for launch on another mission. Both were successful, with the second payload reaching max altitude of 24.9km.

Everyone is happy but exhausted! Additional KerBalloon units arrived this week but we don’t expect the pace of missions to pick up any more than this. 2 more contracts were signed today, with additional proposals forthcoming.

ATN Database Update

The weekly update for the Asteroid Tracking Network database was posted here. It contains now a total count of 570 asteroids. This past week two Class-C asteroids were discovered to have periapsis within Kerbin’s atmosphere, which means they are not on a direct course for impact but will at least graze the planet. It is likely however that upon atmospheric entry they break up and hit the ground if any pieces are still intact. Both events are currently plotted to take place on the opposite side of the planet, so there is no immediate danger. More information will be released after observations have been taken of the asteroids within our SOI on 5/23 and 6/20.

Celestial Snapshot of the Week

Bob is gradually becoming Val’s equal in astrophotography skills and proved it this week with this great capture of Jool while Tylo and Vall are transiting together. Jool is slowly setting lower and lower at sunset, soon it will be out of view for a few days as we pass through conjunction so both Bob & Val have been waiting to get a shot like this before it dropped too low on the horizon.

tylo-vall-transit_34437488431_o.png

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

Spoiler

Written on 5/10/17

Okay so 8 days of work for 7 days of KSA  – I think that’s pretty good considering how much crap I managed to cram into those 7 days. Holy excrements what the hell was I thinking?? This is the problem with having such a short lead time, I don’t really take any time to properly plan things out because I feel so rushed to get things done. I have to be extra-extra careful about things too because I don’t have the liberty of realizing I made a mistake three weeks from now and being able to still go back and fix things before they are posted. Now I only have 9 days. But I’m taking things a bit slower these next few weeks so hopefully maybe possibly I can finally start getting ahead again?

Keeping track of parts

Speaking of not planning things, I had to do a leeeetle bit of hand-waving to make those 4 KerBalloon missions actually work with the parts I had available. Long story short is all the parts were there I just hadn’t deployed them properly so that they could all be used. So for example, this photo is wrong because those two KerBalloons should have had nosecone chutes to free up the two remaining KerBalloon parachutes (that attach direct to the case) to be used by the aircraft drop and UTV carry missions over land. So the missions that were carried out were possible with the parts available, thankfully. I’ve further tweaked the part inventory sheets to help me get better at this.

Mk4 launch clusterlove

I probably could have had this all wrapped up yesterday had I not screwed up the Mk4 launch so badly in so many ways. First big mistake was that I forgot I had planned to have the launch be slightly delayed, so I flew it launching at the original L-0 time of 12:45 local. Then for that launch I forgot to save the Persistent Trails data so I had to go back and fly it again. After that I finally realized I needed to delay the launch so toss everything out and start over with the new L-0 time of 12:54. Okay, get that launch in the bag but then when breaking down the rocket in the VAB to get deltaV & weight measurements I realize the thrust limiters on the boosters are dialed back. This was from me previously testing TWR settings for future launches but it wasn’t supposed to be dialed back for this launch. CRAP I need to redo the launch again. But wait – I’ve been flying this launch with coasts between stages and OH MY loveING GOD I’M SUPPOSED TO BE HOT STAGING THIS LAUNCH – at this point I managed to not pick up and throw things around, but I did “toss” all my launch video & data once again and flew the launch all over for a third time (really fifth or sixth time but third distinctly different launch scenario). Finally I had launch data, video and events I could actually use.

Besides all that I spent some time figuring out how to destroy the rocket with a big boom, because using the Kaboom mod only made things go poof in a bunch of smoke. I had to set the Blast Awesomeness Modifier for the liquid fuel tank to 0.5 to get a nice explosion. Of course, all that time was moot because when I finally realized I needed to hot stage, turns out the rocket comes apart on its own anyways and Ferram Aerospace Research triggers explosions on aerodynamic failures. Son. Ofa. poodle.

So yea, getting through May 18th was painful.

More photo woes

Do you think this is a great photo? I do. I love how wonderfully detailed the terrain is and how far away the trees go. Buuuut all that comes at a steep price for my PC, which is a decent computer, but good lord does KSP terrain scatter just suck those framerates down a ginormous black hole. Yea so we’re talking a slideshow here, what I actually ended up having to do was just take a photo of the aircraft without any scatter so I could actually move and setup the camera with KerbCam. I tied its position to a static object at the airport so that when I reloaded the game I could snap right back to the same point and take another photo with scatter objects and not have to deal with moving around anything, just click a few buttons and capture the shot. Of course with the scatter objects the godrays feature of Scatterer threw off all kinds of nasty shadows so I had to go back to the main menu, disable those, and reload. It’s good I took images with/without ground scatter anyways since I had to remove some trees and grass from the runway/tarmac. Oh and of course immediately after I captured the second image with ground scatter something flipped the physics out and made the camera view tumble all other the place, so I very nearly had to reset again

But hey, I really like the photo.

Also, even with the flat runway at KGA I still couldn’t get the Civvie to take off properly without slewing off to the side as soon as the rear landing gear comes off the ground. Therefore I suspect the main gear alignment is off, but I haven’t taken the time to look into it yet.

More batch file improvements

Added some more code to my batch scripts that move files out of GameData to slim down my install for various purposes. This code checks to ensure that no other folders are present in the Holding folder I use to temporarily store these files:


for /F %%i in ('dir /b /a "D:\Steam Games\steamapps\common\Kerbal Space Program\GameData - Holding\*"') do (
  echo Holding folder is not empty!!
  pause
  exit /b
)

This will keep me from possibly overwriting stuff I already have there or just adding a bunch of folders atop stuff I don’t want to be putting back into my main GameData with everything else.

Upgrading the static Flight Tracker diagrams

I finally got fed up with having to take time to create the static diagrams in the Flight Tracker, mainly because the script that automates the majority of the process was giving me a lot of fits while running, screwing things up mostly. I don’t know when the new dynamic model will be ready as the author is currently performing an overhaul, but I don’t have the time or willpower to commit anymore to the static diagrams while I wait. So last week was the last time they will be updated until the new system is implemented.

Limited twitter timelines per account

So I just finally bumped up against the limit at which twitter will allow me to create tweet timelines for my KSA account. I was afraid there might be a limit, which sucks but thankfully when I embed timelines into the website you can’t tell what account they are hosted by, and I can use my other twitter accounts (currently have four) to create timelines that contain tweets from KSA. So really I don’t have a limit, I just need to create a new account when an account has run up to its max allowed timelines. Of course, that could eventually get me in trouble with twitter but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

 

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I just found this awesome project of yours via your signature, and I am impressed!

Do you hire (Programmer, Engineer, Public Education Manager or such)?

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2 hours ago, MarkusA380 said:

Do you hire (Programmer, Engineer, Public Education Manager or such)?

Nope, it's all me because ironically teamwork involves more work, if you get what I mean :P - especially on a hobbyist project with high levels of varying commitment among team members

Glad you like tho, hope you enjoy the continuing adventures...

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22 minutes ago, Drew Kerman said:

Nope, it's all me because ironically teamwork involves more work, if you get what I mean :P - especially on a hobbyist project with high levels of varying commitment among team members

Glad you like tho, hope you enjoy the continuing adventures...

Too bad, but too understandable :D

Good luck.

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Just now, MarkusA380 said:

Too bad, but too understandable :D

But hey - I forgot to point out you're already helping me out greatly with this by creating and continuing to support Persistent Rotation! :)

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Also, a tiny suggestion for you: Reaction Wheels are very unrealistic, so I added this to my install:

@PART[*]:HAS[@MODULE[ModuleReactionWheel]]
{
    @MODULE[ModuleReactionWheel]
    {
        @PitchTorque *= 0
        @YawTorque *= 0
        @RollTorque *= 0
    }
}

 

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Posted (edited)

5 minutes ago, MarkusA380 said:

Also, a tiny suggestion for you: Reaction Wheels are very unrealistic, so I added this to my install:


@PART[*]:HAS[@MODULE[ModuleReactionWheel]]
{
    @MODULE[ModuleReactionWheel]
    {
        @PitchTorque *= 0
        @YawTorque *= 0
        @RollTorque *= 0
    }
}

 

Thx, but I'm already using (which cooperates with your mod)

Also, I did some searching through my Paypal history and don't have any donation records for you. So have a few drinks. Cheers!

Edited by Drew Kerman

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, Drew Kerman said:

Thx, but I'm already using (which cooperates with your mod)

Also, I did some searching through my Paypal history and don't have any donation records for you. So have a few drinks. Cheers!

First off: Thank you very much. You are indeed the first one to do so.

Second off: Fu... Looks like my mod just got pointless...

How does it cooperate exactly?

Edited by MarkusA380

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41 minutes ago, MarkusA380 said:

How does it cooperate exactly?

it switches off its own code for anything that your mod handles. And for me, your mod isn't pointless because it spins asteroids :P

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Just now, Drew Kerman said:

it switches off its own code for anything that your mod handles. And for me, your mod isn't pointless because it spins asteroids :P

Sure it is this way? His description tells a different story.

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Posted (edited)

3 minutes ago, MarkusA380 said:

Sure it is this way? His description tells a different story.

in regards to persistent rotation he says "can still be used but the SAS and rotation persistence features will be automatically disabled" - I think I see where this could be ambiguous. I interpret this as saying the RCS/rotation persistence features of his mod will be disabled, not that he goes and disables your mod. If you're still unsure, ask him to clarify

Edited by Drew Kerman

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12 minutes ago, Drew Kerman said:

in regards to persistent rotation he says "can still be used but the SAS and rotation persistence features will be automatically disabled" - I think I see where this could be ambiguous. I interpret this as saying the RCS/rotation persistence features of his mod will be disabled, not that he goes and disables your mod. If you're still unsure, ask him to clarify

Yes, seems correct.

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