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The Kerbal Space Agency: To Be Continued...?


Drew Kerman
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Four years and counting! Happy operational anniversary!

The KSA is becoming a "mature" agency now and that helps because it doesn't tweet or generate content nearly as much on a daily basis as it used to back in the earlier years, however at the same time the complexity of the operations has also increased. The pandemic these past few months and me being unable to do my "real job" coaching gymnastics and thus spending nearly all my time at home has also brought about a startling realization: this whole project is taking up a lot more time nowadays than it used to. In earlier years I would have at least 2-3 weeks of lead time, sometimes as much as 2-3 months and now I'm struggling to keep ahead by just a few days.

There is another consideration however - the whole pandemic situation has also brought me closer to friends online since regular in-person gatherings aren't really a thing anymore lately. Ironically this has eaten up time as well because it's easier to get together online to play games than it is to coordinate IRL meetups. So before Covid I was spending less time hanging with friends but getting more from the in-person interaction so I felt less compelled to connect to them online often, freeing up more time for me to work on KSA.

Now, if I free up more time from gaming with my friends online that will help me stay ahead when lead time grows short but another upcoming problem will be when financial assistance for unemployment related to Covid dries up over the next few months. If I return to the gym to coach or search out some other employment opportunity because I need the money to sustain myself then that is once again less time I have to spend on this project.

If time becomes an issue, as I have said before I will be forced to scale back the timeline and scope of this project in order to allow it to continue. Updates will become fewer, background story elements will fade away, crew will develop less character and time between launches will be extended so that I have more time to prepare.

A final consideration for how much time I have to work on KSA activities is contributions from Patreon. Obviously if I can make enough money through here that I don't have to spend as much time coaching or traveling away to fireworks shows then that is more time I can spend on this project instead. Currently I'm making just enough to cover the monthly $10 payment I make to prolific KSP mod author LinuxGuruGamer, who in keeping various mods alive also helps keep the KSA project moving forward with new KSP versions.

While I of course hope my personal situation and the pandemic situation stabilizes in the near future, I also doubt it's going to happen - especially considering this upcoming U.S. election. I remain committed however to not voluntarily giving up the project. I take a lot of enjoyment seeing people react to what the KSA is doing and I thank everyone who has reached out to me over the years with comments and suggestions or even attempted to take part in the role play. It does mean a lot.

I'm really looking forward to making it back to orbit over this coming year and continuing on this journey with you all. Thanks for following along and please don't forget to help spread the word about the KSA's existence!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This past week the Ascension Mk2 finally had its first complete mission success in deploying the Kerbin II probe to a stable orbit! On-orbit operations are now underway for our first space mission that will last for more than a few days - it could in fact last the remainder of the year. This is an exciting new phase of KSA operations that will become more prominent in 2021 with the Ascension Mk3 starting to loft serious long-term orbital missions around Kerbin and outwards towards our moons and even interplanetary targets.

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Click the launch photo to read our latest Ops Summary with more details on the launch

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For all the details of the Mk2 mission head over to our Ops Tracker by clicking the image above

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For the latest status of the Kerbin II probe, once again the Ops Tracker has all the deets via the image link above

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5 hours ago, KerballingSmasher said:

Nice! It's awesome to finally see multiple lines drawn out over the orbits, nice colors too!

It's kind of like the moment The Wizard of Oz goes from b&w to color. An entire new dimension of the KSA Ops Tracker is in the foreground. Even that tool alone is completely great.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Our operational year ended yesterday and Kerbin II was returned to the surface intact (mostly) this past week as well after more than 84 days, 15 million km and 3,000 orbits. Click the image for more info on the Ops Tracker. Be sure to catch up on anything you may have missed over the course of this year and even prior via our Ops Summaries

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What do we hope to achieve in 2021? Here's a peek at our main goals, in rough order of operations:

  • Ascension Mk3 debuts with launch of Kerbin III into high-Kerbin orbit to study the radiation belts & test new vacuum LF/O engine
  • Progeny Mk8 debuts, first flight of rocket guided only by thrust vectoring. Payload mission TBD
  • Mk1-B capsule completes qualification trials, heads to space on sub-orbital test flight atop an Ascension Mk1
  • WildCat-V engine completes qualification trials for integration into Ascension Mk3
  • Commander Valentina or Specialist Bob become the 1st kerbal to orbit Kerbin
  • CommSat Network begins launch of 3 satellites into low-Kerbin orbit for continuous ground coverage up to 70° latitude
  • Progeny Mk8/Ascension Mk3 unkerbed short-term missions to Mun and Minmus under Extremis program. Maybe orbit?
  • Additional, longer kerbed orbital flights, possibly a space walk
  • Extremis I flagship mission attempts first interplanetary exploration of Eve, Jool and Plock over the next 3 years
  • KerBalloon continues operations in later half of year with extended expeditions supported by commsats
  • Iterative design continues to work towards an Ascension Mk4 (full TVC) and Progeny Mk8 Heavy
  • Future Extremis flagship missions for 2022 and beyond planned

Thanks to everyone who has and continues to support us! Stay tuned for 2020 recap infographics coming at the end of the month

Edited by Drew Kerman
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  • 2 weeks later...

Happy new year! 2021 is looking exciting and here is a look back at all that was accomplished in 2020. Full res images in this flickr album

2020 Year in Review - Crew Report

For the first time an entire year was spent by our crew mostly in training, with the fewest amount of actual missions carried out - such is the complex nature of space flight!

2020 Year in Review - Surface Operations

KerBalloon missions were as numerous as last year and mission time was nearly doubled on average as surface expeditions became more far-flung & long-lasting. The successful use of orbital comms tested this year has everyone excited to really open up surface exploration in 2021

2020 Year in Review - Atmospheric Flight

we got in a few flights this year before the Genesis program was shuttered. Fixed-wing aircraft development remains alive with C7 Aerospace Division and missions like those previously flown by Commander Valentina & Captain Jebediah are now handled by a growing pool of commercial aviators

2020 Mission Cadence

although we did have a shutdown of the rocketry programs early this year, there was no shutdown of the entire Agency at any point and we at least got off one mission each month in 2020, continuing the streak that went through 2019 as well. Planning to keep it alive in 2021!

2020 Year in Review - Rocket Flight

Even though overall launch count was down from last year, the missions were much more complex, including our first ever orbital missions launched from the Ascension Mk2 and getting the rest of our crew up into space via the Mk1. The Mk7-B helped qualify the reusable boosters for the upcoming Ascension Mk3 as well as paving the way for the Progeny Mk8. Ironically, our Progeny Mk6 missions, technically the easiest, did not fare well

2020 Year in Review - Orbital Operations

For the first time we get to look at some stats from missions that circled the planet multiple times, something we plan to do a lot more often in 2021, and we have confirmed the Ascension Mk3 can take us interplanetary!

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This last year flashed by in some contexts, and watching the KSA put up some amazing launches was inspiring.

Though everything has come back down so far, there's some exciting possibilities for the future! I'll be sure to pick up a new KSA hat and tee shirt the next time I visit the visitor center. :D

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I don't know how I managed to miss this thread previously for all this time, but this is totally inspiring. It makes me want to start my own space program in this vein. After looking at the website, and reviewing the installed mod list, I am curious about one thing, though - what kind of machine are your running the KSA on?

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18 hours ago, panarchist said:

what kind of machine are your running the KSA on?

It's been a while so I started out in 2016 with

i7-4790K (but not OC'd)
16GB RAM
R7 250X

then in 2018 I bumped up to an RX 460 (cause it was the only decent card I could find at a decent price on short notice when my older card burnt out, stupid bitcoin)

early last year I moved up to a 2060 Super and 24GB of RAM (didn't go full 32 cause I can't carry it over to my new mobo this year when I upgrade my CPU)

graphics card may seem the best upgrade of course, finally decent frames on scenes with lots of ground scatter but that's never really been an issue since I actually fly with graphics as low as possible to increase sim rate. All photos/video are recreated and taken after the fact so FPS doesn't matter. Really looking forwards more to a new CPU this year and 32GB RAM. TBH tho I didn't really suffer any regular stability issues with 16GB of RAM but I did have to take many extra measures to ensure I was only loading parts I was using to keep memory usage down

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If you need something to look forwards to in 2021, I got 4 things for you! KSA's Q1 flight operations kick off next week but it's really February when things go into high gear with the Mk3 and Mk8, two pivotal missions that will set the stage for how we proceed through the rest of the year. The final launch will determine whether we are ready to send a kerbal into orbit. Exciting times! Save the dates! Each image links to the vessel on the Ops Tracker for more information

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Edited by Drew Kerman
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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry forgot to post here earlier this week as a reminder but turns out the Ascension Mk3 still has yet to launch due to ongoing delays. Next attempt is tomorrow 2/12 targeting L-0 of 19:00 UTC so don't miss it!! Click the image for the Ops Tracker

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Also if you did not catch the first launch of the year last month, click the image below to go to the Ops Tracker where you can not only review all the major events but the Additional Resources has links to the mission report, telemetry data and full flight analysis report. If you go back to the launch event you can replay the streaming ascent telemetry

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  • 1 year later...

This was supposed to be an update to continue the KSA plot but that was when I was considering returning to this project later this year. Now I don’t think I am.

The original plan last year was to take a few months off. Then a few months turned into a year. I moved twice in that time before finally ending up homeless just last month. This wasn’t an unforeseen development however so I’ve been able to pack all my things away into a 10×15′ storage unit that I now live out of. I can’t sleep there though so I have a tent pitched in my friend’s backyard and have been sleeping there the past month. I have recently acquired a conversion van from another friend who built it into a live-in vehicle.

This all sounds pretty depressing but what I’m actually doing is by choice to save money since I refuse to participate in this bonkers housing and rental market. Despite having good credit and no debt, I’m currently not making enough to afford $800-1000 (at least) in rent or even more for a mortgage when I factor in food, gas, monthly subscriptions, etc.

I could work more I guess, but I’m far from bored. I’ve got countless TV shows and movies to catch up on, 2-3 years of magazine back-issues across 12 subscriptions, an entire library of Star Wars books to read (never read some of them and never read all of them straight through in order) – the one and only thing I cannot do is setup my desktop computer. And I don’t feel like getting a third job (the other two I have are both part-time) to make enough money for a house to just use my desktop. Plus I have two more big 30+ day road trips to save up for and execute as well.

So the KSA remains in limbo for the foreseeable future. Good news is that I spent the months following the operations pause doing a full review of the entire KSA history – I made sure I know what major plot points are still open, took note of any plot holes I managed to introduce (not too many, all things considered *pats self on back*), technical/factual mistakes, went through the Ops Tracker and made a lot of fixes to mission details and consistent presentation and compiled a full timeline of how the Monolith has affected things for the KSA. I’ve also done a full review of every post and page on the website to ensure that all formatting is consistent and to find and fix any plot flaws/typos. So the entire project up to the pause in Feb 2021 is in pristine shape to serve as a historic reference for anything that happened to the KSA during that time (I am really annoyed about the lack of future support for embedded timelines tho).

I also know what happened to cause the KSA to pause operations and what’s been going on in the time since. I’ve already made plans for plots to introduce the new planetary terrain and scatter system as well as the volumetric clouds that are being worked on for KSP1. I even know what to do for a transition from KSP1 to KSP2. Arrowstar is still working on improving and expanding his launch and mission planning tool, there’s finally good support for rocket sounds and plumes and let’s not forget about that weather modeling system. Plenty of cool things for me to come back to – eventually!

Of course, plans can continue to change but I feel it’s finally time to post something for an update. Hopefully in time I will have the opportunity to resume this project where I left off. Thanks to everyone who has followed along over the years.

Oh and if anyone is annoyed that I left my Patreon active this entire time know that I made $0 from it – all proceeds went to LinuxGuruGamer to ensure all the mods I relied on remained updated.

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