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Drew Kerman

The Kerbal Space Agency - Flight Tracker v3 w/Better ground plots, telemetry, navigation & more!

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This is a real-time accounting of events that have taken place in the kerbal universe, from the dawn of the space age on the planet Kerbin. The Kerbal Space Agency, a cooperation of private companies, pushes the boundaries of exploration beyond the reaches of Kerbin's atmosphere and out towards the stars. Starting from scratch, with no idea if it was even possible to get into the space, the KSA has since gone on to achieve this goal and many more. Daily operations take place at the Kerbal Space Center, from rocket building, to equipment testing, to mission planning and tracking of all ongoing missions - as well as astronaut training, public outreach and scientific advancement. The progress of all this is communicated to any who wish to follow along via our official twitter account. Get to know our operations staff, including Flight Director Lanalye Kerman, Lead Scientist Wernher Von Kerman and Lead Engineer Simon Kerman. Commander Bob Kerman leads our growing astronaut corps and kadet training program. C7 Aerospace operates alongside the KSA working on atmospheric aircraft with the eventual goal of re-usable space planes.

Come explore the Kerbol system with us!

NOTE
This forum thread is currently under re-construction due to the new forum software
and all the main content is being moved over to the
NEW KSA WEBSITE!
So check it out :)

Edited by Gaiiden
cleanup for new forums

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Note: Expanding the Mission Dispatches section of the Chronicles just above will let you check out earlier dispatches that were originally posted in their own threads

After failing to rendezvous and de-orbit the derelict Kerbin III spacecraft for a second time, the team at KSA has come up with an even better rendezvous technique they hope will allow for success on this mission. Additionally, the rocket being flown by Capt Bob has been slightly simplified to reduce the chance of any staging malfunctions interrupting the rendezvous attempt.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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Although united under a world government for almost 60 years following the Great War and enjoying a time of peace and prosperity, many kerbals continued to remain focused on rebuilding a world that had nearly faced destruction. Scientists continued to cast their gazes upwards to the heavens, but found little support from the kerbs around them to break free of gravity and venture out into the unknowns of space. Then, just 5 years ago, a kerb named Drew Kerman decided that needed to change. It was a long, arduous process to fight government oversight and establish relationships with companies willing to part with money to fund the venture, but the Kerbal Space Agency was officially founded on September 29th of 2013. It would spend the next several months working on the technology required to begin even contemplating the idea of actually reaching space.

This summary leads up to and covers the events of and between Mission Dispatches #1 and #2.

It wasn't until February 16th of the following year, in fact, that the KSA engineers had managed to devise a working, testable prototype of a rocket engine that could carry a payload of fuel and instruments into the upper atmosphere. Lofty goals, but this rocket prototype was only built to go up several hundred meters to prove that sustained propellant burn could be maintained without catastrophic explosion. The flight of Kerbal I was carried out under the watchful eye of Lead Engineer Simon Kerman, a well-respected kerb throughout the aircraft industry hand-picked by Drew Kerman to lead up the new space initiative.

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While successful, Kerbal I was merely the first step in allowing the Agency to operate in sub-orbital space. After the engine was fired and subsequently crashed into the ground a few hundred meters away, Simon and his team were able to immediately apply the data gathered towards the launch of Kerbal II. Now that they knew they could get a rocket aloft, the engineering team had to prove they could safely return it to the ground.

The first of several overreaches that have befallen the program struck early, when Kerbal II was built around a new quad-engine design. Although engineers were confident in their skills based on the previous test, routing the fuel for four separate engines brought forth a number of unforeseen issues that nearly resulted in the rocket exploding on the launch pad. Despite the setback, Simon was able to wrangle the engineers into an all-night session to figure out and fix the problem. Kerbal II made a successful liftoff and recovery.

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Now that they could get a rocket up and bring it back down, the KSA engineering team knew the sky was the limit - and indeed the atmosphere of Kerbin was all that stood in the way of reaching the vacuum of space. It was full-speed-ahead now to develop a capsule and lift vehicle capable of taking a brave kerbal up towards the infinite beyond. But who could they possibly find willing to do such a thing?

Edited by Gaiiden

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After the Aerospace Group was formed on April 30th, 2014, it immediately began working on a rocket-propelled aircraft prototype. Jet and propeller aircraft were already well-understood and well-used among kerbal society but to strap a rocket to wings and have it fly through the atmosphere? That was something new. First though, they had to spend the next month researching various other things besides rockets, such as the pit capsule that could withstand the demands of rocket flight and an ejection system that wouldn't kill the pilot. They also had to recruit some brave test pilots and choose Kirk and Jermal Kerman, two of the most respected military jet pilots in the service. Finally, in the beginning of June they were ready for the first test flight.

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To stay up to date with ongoing Aerospace Group testing, follow @KSA_MissionCtrl

Edited by Gaiiden

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The Aerospace Group was able to put together a new Lawn Dart for a second test flight, this time the goal was to achieve flight from a horizontal take off using the runway. There was some debate about the aerodynamic efficiency in using trusses for the main gear, and at one point the team planned to have them jettison shortly after take off and just use the recovery chutes to land. Ultimately it was determined the drag would be negligible for this test flight and the final prototype was handed over to their second test pilot, Flight Officer Jermal Kerman, to attempt flight and recovery - via the landing gear if possible.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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The Agency had originally planned to do this in two missions, but Lead Engineer Simon convinced Flight Director Lanalye in marathon planning session that it could be done in one. Thus, Captain Bob was tasked with piloting the tallest rocket assembled to date into orbit high above Kerbin to service ComSat I, which needed larger-capacity batteries. He then had to lower his orbit to rendezvous with ComSat II, which had experienced problems during launch that caused it to lose all its solar panels. The ComSat Service Vehicle constructed for this mission was an improved model of the craft used for the Kerbin III de-orbit that allowed fuel transfer to restore Center of Mass within the RCS thruster ring for proper translation abilities Bob lacked in the previous mission. The Agency was all set to pull off yet another successful mission.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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Emboldened by the successful creation of a rocket capable of sub-orbital flight and recovery, the job now fell to 3 brave kerbals who would step into the capsule one at a time to let KSA scientists see how rocket launches affect a kerbal's physiology. But who are these three kerbs with the guts and skill to go soaring high into the atmosphere strapped to a vehicle that is constantly exploding out one end? The selection process was long, and dozens of kerbs from the military forces were tested to the limit in the months prior to the first launch of the KSA. But by the end of January, 2014, the first astronauts were named: Bill, Bob and Jebediah Kerman.

This summary covers the events of and between Mission Dispatches #3, #4 and #5.

Of the three astronauts selected, Jebediah Kerman was easily the "front-kerb" of the group. A highly-decorated military aviator and test pilot, Jeb was adored by the media and kerbettes alike. The KSA bestowed upon him the rank of Commander, which granted him leadership during missions involving more than one kerbal. Bob and Bill were ranked as Captains, capable of piloting solo on their own missions. All three were more than eager and ready to begin the kerbal space program, and the first thing they got to do after moving in to the Astronaut Complex was head down to the R&D labs for their first close look at the capsule.

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The reaction was unanimous. All three kerbs, being pilots, were extremely put off by the fact that the capsule appeared to have no windows with which to see out of, nor any controls with which to fly by. The engineers, proud of their creation, were taken aback by the scathing review of their project but stood firm their ground on the capsule not requiring such complicated features. "Simple, simple, simple!" said Lead Engineer Simon to Jeb. Given that these upcoming first missions were solely to test a kerbal's endurance under stress of launch and the guidance capabilities of vectoring thrust engines, there was no need for controls or windows.

Still unhappy, the three astronauts grudgingly accepted... for the time being.

But it quickly became apparent that the astronauts were right, when several weeks later on 2/22/14 Kerbal III made its first launch, under the command of Jeb. After an initial delay due to heavy cloud cover, Kerbal III began its ascent under direct computer control and almost immediately lost stability, sending the rocket into an uncontrolled tumbling burn only a few hundred meters up in the air. Commander Jeb, calm as always, made use of the limited manual controls inside the pit to cut the engines and immediately deploy the chutes, which righted the craft just in time for a touchdown on the main engine bell.

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Despite the successful recovery, the inadequacy of the computer guidance systems gave fuel to the astronaut's arguments for manual control. Jeb did, however, admit during the post-recovery press briefing that "not having windows didn't let me see how screwed I was" when he was asked how he was able to remain so calm when facing almost certain death. Despite this, engineers still refused to include any manual controls in the craft. By the next launch on the 26th, Captain Bill had logged several hours in the "spin seat" gyroscopic trainer to get used to handling the emergency controls while under G-load in the event of another rocket flip-out event.

After running an experiment of his own by peeing in his suit (to no detrimental effect on the suit's electronics), Captain Bill and Kerbal III left the pad into a nominal ascent with a lowered amount of thrust for the early stage of climb through thick atmosphere. At around T+30s Flight gave Bill the go for throttling up the main engine, at which point the stabilization systems failed to overcome the increased torque and the rocket began to tumble, but this time it was already several kilometers up. After cutting the engine and allowing the stabilization system to right the rocket, Bill was given permission for a second, smaller burn that ultimately led to a 17.2km apogee before fuel exhaustion. Parachutes were deployed as the rocket began to fall back to Kerbin but a miscalculation by the engineering team meant the chute's surface area was not enough to slow the rocket for a safe landing. Capt Bill emerged from the capsule shaken and unhurt but the rocket did suffer significant engine damage.

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Once again Simon and his team of engineers came under fire from the astronauts regarding controls for the spacecraft. No longer content to rely on computer-guided systems, Jeb and Bill fought for hours with Simon over the issue. Finally Flight Director Lanalye stepped in to order Simon that rudimentary controls be added to the capsule. Not pleased with having to "hack it in" to his design, Simon stormed off to the engineering labs to begin the retrofit, Jebediah in tow for oversight.

5 days later the retrofit was complete and Capt Bob was ready to take his turn aboard Kerbal III and attempt to get even higher than Bill's last flight. On the morning of March 3rd Kerbal III left the pad at approximately 9am with Capt Bob slowly steering the craft over into a gravity turn to assist with building up speed. While doing the maneuver Bob did experience a loss of control, but followed procedure in cutting the engines and regaining stability before continuing to burn. He ultimately ended up several kilometers downrange over the Kerblantic after ascending nearly half way to space, hitting an apogee of 33.5km. Splashdown was uneventful and recovery successful. Bob found the controls to be "adequate" and is certain that with a properly-designed capsule the astronauts could pilot their own way into space.

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These three sub-orbital flights marked the second major milestone in the KSA's ultimate bid for space. Although they all had various issues, Simon and his engineering team assembled heaps of data for them to use in order to begin constructing the rocket that would place an un-kerbed vessel into low orbit above Kerbin. The three astronauts were instant celebrities among the kerbal people and received a ticker-tape parade through the streets of Kerbin's massive capital city Kerbalopolis. Commander Jeb, ever photogenic, graced many a newspaper and magazine cover leading his two fellow astronauts. Not since the end of the Great War had Kerbin felt so unified in a purpose - to put a kerbal in space!

Edited by Gaiiden

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The KSA was ready to break the bonds of gravity and fly out of Kerbin's atmosphere into the cold embrace of space. After the three flights of the Kerbal III manned rocket, Simon and his team of engineers had all the data they needed to construct an even larger rocket capable of ferrying a single kerbal into orbit and returning him back to the surface. Despite the pleasingly precise calculations made on paper, the actual implementation turned out to be a bit more troublesome than expected. Despite some setbacks, the teams of the KSA knew it was only a matter of time before one exceptionally brave bad ass kerbal would gaze down upon his home world from a height greater than 70km.

This summary covers the events of and between Mission Dispatches #6, #7, #8, #9 - leading up to #10.

It was only days after the last flight of Kerbal III that Kerbin I, being continually developed alongside the Kerbal III test flights, stood on the launch pad. The rocket was the first design to incorporate more than one stage - the first would be boosters, the second would be the main engine, and the third would be the orbital science payload with its own engine. As the liquid-oxidizer engine used did not provide a great deal of thrust, the large boosters were able to lift Kerbin I a significant way into the upper atmosphere for the main engine to provide a better TWR through the final ascent into orbit. There, the science stage would decouple and use its own engine to ascend into a higher orbit for science measurements before returning after a single orbit. Landing legs and parachutes would allow for a safe return.

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The launch of the craft went off nearly without a hitch - weak control authority caused a bit of wobble during ascent but otherwise the rocket performed as expected, dropping its boosters and throttling up its main engine until cut off at an apogee of 205km. However in the few minutes it took to coast to apogee for orbital insertion burn, the electrical charge of the spacecraft ran out and contact was lost. Reports from visual monitoring stations on the other side of the Kerblantic a few minutes later spotted the re-entry trail as Kerbin I's ballistic arc returned it to the atmosphere of its namesake, where it burnt up.

Although slightly embarrassed by this simple oversight, the engineering team learned a valuable lesson in how small things can sneak past you and end up causing big problems. Instead of simply re-building Kerbin I with additional battery capacity however, Simon decided that some new tech was needed and brought some recent advancements out of the R&D labs to apply to a new Kerbin II design. These included steerable rocket fins along with a more powerful, thrust vectoring main engine that would completely negate any control authority issues and also allow for smaller boosters. However before Kerbin II could be fully constructed the KSC was hit by a nasty tropical storm that prompted a complete evacuation of the facility, situated on low-lying land. Thankfully damage from the storm was largely cosmetic and the KSC was up and running again in no time. Ten days after the launch of Kerbin I, Kerbin II was ready for its attempt at orbital flight.

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Launch of the craft was uneventful, and a 100km apogee was established after separation of the boosters and main engine throttle up. Just under three minutes after launch, Kerbin II had successfully burned at apogee to reach orbital velocity! The excitement at mission control was amplified by the class of kerblings that were watching from the observation room, excited to see history being made before their eyes. Hopefully one day some of them will be going into space! Shortly after achieving orbit communication was lost with Kerbin II, however this was simply due to the craft dropping out of sight below the horizon. By the time it came back around electrical reserves were low but within expected levels, enough to perform science experiments, re-orient the craft and burn to de-orbit. During re-entry telemetry was lost due to plasma from the heat generated by blasting through the atmosphere at over Mach 3 but mission controllers were alarmed at just how hot readings had gotten prior to losing signal. No further communication was received by the spacecraft, which should have contacted the recovery crew on station after its chute had deployed. An extensive search of the waters around the targeted splash down zone revealed no trace, and Kerbin II was declared lost - an unfortunate end to an otherwise successful orbital mission.

Since there was no craft to study to learn what went wrong, all engineers had was the data telemetry beamed to mission control before contact was lost. From it they deduced that the parachutes must have been damaged or destroyed by the heat of re-entry. Re-designing the science module to accommodate a different type of parachute was not deemed cost-effective by the KSA Board of Directors and so the engineers got creative and figured out how to mount the radial chutes on top of the science module, hopefully well out of the hot plasma created by re-entry. Other than this change, the external design of Kerbin III was similar to Kerbin II and the VAB was able to quickly assemble the new rocket for flight just under a week later.

However engineers did make one additional internal design change - additional logging equipment was added to the telemetry stream to help engineers better troubleshoot problems in the event that the spacecraft was unrecoverable. In doing so, engineers failed to account for the increased demand on the electrical supply, which once again led to a dead spacecraft. However unlike Kerbin I, which failed to achieve orbit before losing power, Kerbin III successfully made the insertion into orbit and it wasn't until after it had dropped out of contact and engineers reviewed telemetry logs that it became apparent the spacecraft would lose power before it rose again over the opposite horizon. This was coupled as well to a guidance issue that left the spacecraft on a highly-eccentric orbit so it took longer to come back around within sight of signal receivers here at mission control.

Plenty of spare parts, no major change in design, and familiarity with the rocket let the VAB construct Kerbin IV within two days for staging and launch. Initial ascent was nominal, but a malfunction led to an early separation of the 2nd stage, which interrupted the orbital insertion burn. Orbit was attained shortly thereafter on the orbital stage engine after it was confirmed no damage was done to the craft, but the late burn into orbit placed Kerbin IV on an orbit even more eccentric than Kerbin III with an apoapsis of 634km. Carrying an antenna capable of only reaching 500km, this would mean that for an extended period during its flight around Kerbin the spacecraft would be out of contact. Thankfully, electrical drain was normal and the craft was expected to remain charged until contact was re-established. Upon this happening, the craft was de-orbited and finally the KSA was able to successfully recover a craft returned from orbit when both chutes deployed properly after re-entry. Kerbin IV also beamed home the first image from orbit:

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With the successful recovery of the Kerbin IV science module the KSA was ready. They debuted the new capsule that would carry a single astronaut up into orbit. It was redesigned from the ground up with input from the astronauts and featured a small window and integrated controls to allow the pilot to command the craft completely if needed. The first kerbal to be sent into space was decided to be none other than Commander Jebediah Kerman, who gracefully accepted the responsibility - and the danger. Simon and his team were already nearly complete with the Kerbin V design by the time Kerbin IV launched and the VAB was able to begin assembly only a few days after the recovery of Kerbin IV. The greatest challenge yet faced by the KSA was still to come...

Edited by Gaiiden

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Now that the LKO communications network is finally completed and fully operational, a mission proposed weeks ago by Lead Scientist Wernher Von Kerman was finally approved - a near-polar orbit would be established for observations of the entire planet over the course of a day-long mission. Originally scheduled to launch on 6/30, the previous day a dish at the tracking station suffered a mechanical failure and needed to be replaced. After a day to replace the dish and a day to test/calibrate it, weather was the issue holding up the launch. There was a small chance, so Flight Director Lanalye ordered the rocket out to the pad the night before so it could be prepped in the morning. However a fuel line was not properly attached, blew loose overnight and moisture got into one of the large main engine tanks. In the time it took to dry, the weather worsened for the day and launch had to be cancelled. Finally, on 7/3, everything fell into place for the mission to receive a Go.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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Although the Aerospace Group's first vehicle the Mk1 (nicknamed the "Lawn Dart" by the pilots) did not perform as well as expected, they were still able to use data collected from the flights to apply towards a more traditional aircraft design that was still capable of supersonic flight and took advantage of recent advancements in materials processing to hopefully achieve impressive performance characteristics. The Mk1.2, officially named the "Raker", was under development for several weeks prior to its first test flight in the beginning of July 2014. Due to issues that cancelled the first test flight trial, this log entry contains both the failed first attempt and the following second attempt.

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After Kirk's successful flight with the Raker, the engineers of the Aerospace Group took some time to check over the airframe. Despite the twitter account initially saying the Raker was nothing special, it is in fact using an advanced composite materials airframe and so engineers are taking great care in making sure it is holding up to the stresses of flight as predicted. After the airframe check turned up no issues Flight Officer Jermal was handed the controls. Given his past experience with high-G forces he was the natural candidate to put the Raker through some high-performance maneuvers and a supersonic run to really see what the airframe could handle.

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While the rocketry teams continued to work on the upcoming Munar Relay Network, the Aerospace Group continued flight tests of its Mk1.2 Raker after a second airframe check came back okay. Although the Raker pushed up to mach 1.6 engineers saw some dangerous heat levels in the engines at those speeds and it's unlikely the Mk1.2 will ever surpass mach 2. Still, the platform was about to prove its usefulness to the KSA when FO Kirk embarked on the first science mission in conjunction with additional flight testing. A pod of science instruments were attached under each wing so they could be dropped over various land areas, parachute down and run experiments on the ground. While these probes were ultimately successful, initially the couldn't stand up to the Raker's speed.

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The death of one of KSA's most decorated astronauts was a hammer blow to the Agency and kerbal society as a whole. The world of Kerbin mourned together over the loss while those at the KSA worked to come to grips with the reality of the disaster. Despite the tragedy, everyone knew the push to explore space had to continue, if for no other reason than to honor the fallen hero. The KSA also knew that in order to send a kerbal back into space they had to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they could bring the astronaut back safely after doing so. Thus, a series of orbital recovery tests were planned, tests that the Agency realized should have been carried out prior to the first kerbed attempt. Humbled by failure, the KSA began the long road back to space.

This summary covers the events after Mission Dispatch #10, which includes Dispatches #11, #12, #13, and #14.

While tragic, it was quickly ruled that the death of Commander Jebediah Kerman could have been avoided. KSA engineers knew from a

previous mission that the radial chutes were prone to overheating during re-entry. To solve this, they moved them from the side of the rocket to the top. With Kerbin V, because the Launch Escape System prevented a nose chute from being installed, the radial chutes were once again placed on the side of the craft, high up near the nose. Engineers expected the tapered design of the capsule to better deflect heat on re-entry and keep the parachutes safe. They did not include any sort of scenario in the event that the chutes failed to survive re-entry as they had before. Because of this, Lead Engineer Simon tendered his resignation to the KSA Board of Directors without hesitation. However, the Board recognized that Simon was not liable to accept full responsibility for the failure of the engineering team and also felt that future tragedies could be avoided if the program were led by someone who could take responsibility for and learn from mistakes made. Thus, Simon's resignation was refused and he was tasked with finding out if the radial chutes were safe for use or if alternate measures had to be taken.

The first craft to launch was a near-copy of Kerbin V, dubbed Kerbin V(a). The main difference was in place of a LES there was a nose cone chute to backup the two radials. In the event that they failed again, the engineering team would at least this time have an intact capsule to study for determining why the chutes did not function properly. Launch and flight of the craft went as planned but when Kerbin V(a) was sent back into the atmosphere similar to how Commander Jeb returned, the radials were once again destroyed although the nose cone chutes properly deployed to land the capsule in one piece. Studying the remains of the radial chutes that were charred into the capsule, the engineering team felt they had discovered a flaw in activating the chutes prior to re-entry which compromised the integrity of the casing. Staging the chutes while in space was done in the event that unplanned extreme G forces were to cause the pilot to lose consciousness and be unable to deploy the chutes after passing through re-entry. To get around this the team developed an altitude sensor so the chutes no longer had to be readied for deployment in orbit.

Kerbin V(B) was launched a few days later after some weather delays and achieved orbit with no problems. Other than the altitude sensor, it was configured exactly as the (a) test rocket but engineers decided to send this one back on a steeper re-entry angle to see how it would affect both the radials and the nose cone chute. Once again the nose cone chute was the only canopy deployed when the craft passed through re-entry, the good news was that the deployment was done via the altitude sensor. Happy that worked at least, engineers spent some more time studying the capsule and finding that despite the steeper re-entry angle the radials hadn't burned up any worse than last time, so clearly it wasn't taking a lot of heat to make them fail.

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B) launch from Mission Control

Kerbin V(

Having ruled out operational defects in the radial chutes, they were scrapped entirely for a re-design. While the nose cone chute had performed flawlessly during testing, Simon recognized this time around the the configuration of the chute was not as it would be were they to use it on an actual mission. The remote-guidance computer was beneath it and slightly wider, potentially blocking more heat. Kerbin V© was built to make sure that the nose cone chute, atop the capsule by itself, could properly survive re-entry. For the launch of the rocket, Captain Bill convinced Flight Director Lye that, since he would be third in space after Captain Bob, he should at least get some flight time sooner by controlling the un-kerbed vessel. After the launch went as planned, Lye gave Bill the okay to perform the orbital injection burn. This... did not go as well. Capt Bill burned way too long and Kerbin V© ended up with an apoapsis of over 1Mm. Needless to say, Capt Bill was on centrifuge puke cleanup detail over at the Space Academy for quite some time.

Despite the mission setback, controllers were able to use the remaining fuel to lower the craft's periapsis within the upper atmosphere at 58km while also lowering its apoapsis to 561km. So, a return of the craft was guaranteed, but no one really knew exactly when it would be. On the bright side, being able to study the effects of the aerobraking would give scientists a much better understanding of the upper atmosphere, which has not been studied much at all to this date. Still, it wasn't until 20 hours after launch the following morning that Kerbin V© began to descend through the upper atmosphere for the last time. At this point the craft was completely "dead stick" as the control unit was now attached to the orbital stage which had been jettisoned much earlier. However SAS was disabled so the craft could assume proper re-entry orientation via airflow. Thankfully, the nose cone chute survived the re-entry and the capsule was recovered intact.

Despite the fact that the nose cone chute showed no signs of re-entry damage after it was recovered and studied, Simon and his team were now well-ingrained into the "what if" mindset. What if the nose cone chute failed? The only other option was a technology developed for speeding road vehicles - airbags. The R&D department had already been experimenting with their use for delivering small probes onto planets with little or no need for chutes so Simon grabbed the latest prototype and threw together a basic test rocket to get into orbit the capsule they installed them on. If these could be used to cushion the fall of a much heavier capsule, they could also prove the use for smaller craft.

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The airbag test vehicle, sitting atop a solid rocket booster

The launch of the vehicle sent the craft onto a ballistic trajectory that would take it out of the atmosphere and drop it right back in within a matter of minutes. The airbags would deploy just prior to landing, which would occur over land, not water. The flight went off without a hitch, and recovery teams were soon digging the capsule from a small crater in the highlands across the Kerblantic. Later analysis of the capsule showed that, for the most part, the airbags did the job and brought the capsule to the ground in recoverable condition. However, accelerometers aboard the craft recorded Gs in excess of -25, which was widely accepted at the time as being way too much force for a kerbal to survive.

The KSA now had to carefully weigh their options. They had a reliable chute for re-entry, however using it would compromise safety at launch as the LES would need to be removed in order for the nose cone chute to be installed. They had a redundancy should the parachutes fail, however the survival of the astronaut in that situation was far from guaranteed. In the end, it was decided that the launch system in use for the Kerbin rockets had proven itself reliable, and the LES would be removed to install the nose cone chute for the next kerbed orbital mission. It was ultimately still a dangerous situation, with catastrophe now possible at the start of the mission rather than the end. The Agency recognized that despite all the precautions they could take, sending a kerbal into space was simply a risky endeavor. Captains Bob and Bill both agreed the risk was acceptable, but only one could go up...

Edited by Gaiiden

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At the end of April, 2014, the KSA Board of Directors authorized the formation of the Aerospace Group as a branch of the engineering department overseen by Simon Kerman. The goal of this team was to work alongside the rocketry teams in developing technologies that could eventually lead to the creation of a Single-Stage to Orbit (SSTO) re-usable aircraft. A "spaceplane", in other words. The team would be applying well-known aerodynamic principles but doing so in ways never before attempted. For example, no one has ever tried strapping a rocket to the back of a plane and trying to fly it through the atmosphere, but that is indeed what the Aerospace Group played around with first.

This summary looks at events leading up to Flight Log: Mk1 Lawn Dart - Entry #1

While the engineers ramped up R&D on new technologies, the Group had to look for pilots willing to brave the dangers of testing unconventional aircraft. They pulled service records from various military air units around Kerbin to find two pilots who seemed to fit the bill - Kirk and Jermal Kerman both sported exemplary records for both bravery and flying skill. They were hired on as Flight Officers and transported to KSC so they could work alongside the engineering teams to ensure the final product was something a pilot could use.

Throughout the month of May the Aerospace Group spent most of its time researching the Mk1 cockpit that would hold the pilot. The cockpit had to be modular so it could be applied to a variety of designs, and as well as being operable by the pilot an ejection system had to be developed to ensure that the pilot could safely abort the flight should things (inevitably) go wrong. During testing and training of this system, Kirk was improperly secured and suffered a serious back injury that laid him up for several weeks. In the end however Jermal continued to test and help develop the ejection system into a production unit to be installed in the Mk1 cockpit. Once that was out of the way, the team got to work designing the first flyable prototype.

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Mk1 prototype, before the development of landing gear

The Aerospace Group, towards the end of May, also started to use FO Jermal for rocket sled testing. Strapping Jermal to the sled and using rockets to accelerate to several Gs and then water brakes to decelerate just as harshly, the engineers were able to begin recording real data on the high-G effects on kerbal physiology. Until now, most of it had been conjecture or based on experiments with dummies. The first test peaked at -15Gs of force and caused some bruising from the straps, which were redesigned for the next test, which peaked at -18Gs. This time, Jermal suffered some bruised ribs, a broken wrist and strained neck. While the injuries were more severe, it was nothing life-threatening. After some recovery time Jermal was back on the sled for a crazy -25Gs. The test actually only peaked at -23Gs due to a miscalculation on the braking end, but Jermal still walked away relatively unhurt and gave medical researchers and structural engineers alike tons of data to pour over to determine if kerbals could survive even higher impact forces.

By this time, the beginning of June, Kirk was back on his feet and the Aerospace Group was finally near to test-flying their Mk1 prototype.

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Thanks to the superb testing done by both Flight Officers Jermal and Kirk, the Mk1.2 Raker was cleared for active service duty. Its main mission was to fly science pods aloft and drop them in remote areas around Kerbin so Wernher and his team could perform additional research. Kirk had already successfully flown several such missions around the KSC, although there were complications with the probe packages due to the Mk1.2's high operating speed causing structural failures of the probe bodies. Still, with careful use of the throttle it was possible to carry out the missions successfully. Kirk had only ever flew with 2 drop pods attached, and when it was Jermal's turn to embark on science missions, the Aerospace Group determined that the Raker could in fact carry 4.

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While various technologies are still under development to eventually put some kerbals on Mun, the Agency is getting ready by establishing a communications relay network that will allow an orbiting craft to maintain a constant connection to Mission Control. To do this, there will be two ComSats placed out in front and behind Mun along its orbit. The first, ComSat Mun I, is what the KSA is launching for this mission. The transfer stage that will carry the satellite into position will then enter into an orbit around Mun for science observations. After this, an impact trajectory will be set up to kick up a good amount of Munar soil that ground-based telescopes can observe. The mission is expected to take two days to complete.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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The time taken to properly test and ensure that the Mk1 capsule was capable of returning a kerbal safely from space was also used to help everyone heal from the loss of Kerbin V. The effort thrown in by everyone at the KSA refocused and revitalized the program. Despite some reports and rumors of drunken behavior out in public tied to one of the Agency's astronauts that were never proven or confirmed, the KSA was well on the path to recovery and back into space. The time was fast approaching to place another kerbal into orbit, and both Captain Bob and Captain Bill were ready. But only one could go up...

This summary covers the events before, during and after Mission Dispatch #15.

The papers and the TV news were all abuzz in the days before the launch of Kerbin VI when it was announced that Captain Bob would be second kerbal to go up into space and orbit around Kerbin. The story was being covered far and wide around Kerbin and only grabbed more attention when it was announced, the day prior to launch, that Captain Bob had been admitted to the KSC medical center with a mysterious illness. The KSA was quick to affirm that Bob had contracted a disease of unknown origin and that although he was in stable condition and responding well to treatments, he was no longer fit to fly a mission into space. Captain Bill, on standby in the event that something should happen to Bob, was called in to replace him as Pilot in Command for Kerbin VI.

The day of the launch, thousands of kerbs showed up to pack into the viewing area south of the pad. Dozens more ended up coming in boats, parking offshore - many of them however were well within the hazard zone east of KSC in which a rocket could splash down after a failed launch. Launch was thus delayed an hour and a half as civil services were called in to help usher the boats out of the area. Finally, at 10am local time, Kerbin VI successfully left the pad carrying Captain Bill up towards space. However within a minute of launch, after booster separation, it was apparent that something was wrong. Tracking showed the rocket deviating greatly from its planned easterly course and heading north on an inclined orbit. Calls to Kerbin VI were not returned as the rocket continued to ascend, coasting towards a 300Km apogee with 39 degrees of inclination - and then, before orbital burn, telemetry was lost as the rocket dropped below the horizon.

Tension and worry built at Mission Control as kerbs scrambled to figure out what had gone wrong, calls were placed to tracking dishes around Kerbin to see if anyone could get a fix on Kerbin VI to determine whether the capsule had attained orbit or not. The minutes ticked by and no reports of a re-entry trail came in, but neither did anyone report getting a signal from the ship. Finally, nearly 47 minutes after launch, a link was established with Kerbin VI as it circled back around the planet to within view of Mission Control. Flight Director Lanalye was stunned to learn, once Captain Bill began responding to radio calls, that he had been performing science experiments and EVAs on his own initiative, a clear violation of mission protocol. When asked about the ascent malfunction, Captain Bill revealed that he had decided to go with a different orbit for better viewing opportunities. The problem with this, however, is that without an orbital comm network, the inclined orbit of Kerbin VI would make communication very difficult over the short period Bill's life support would sustain him in orbit. Flight deemed this unacceptable, denied Captian Bill's request for additional orbits and ordered that he burn to return to Kerbin immediately.

At that point the comm channel was shut off. In clear violation of orders, Captain Bill had gone rogue. Data link to the craft was still open and Lanalye gave the order for a burn command to be uploaded and executed by the craft's onboard computer. While the team at Mission Control knew this could be overridden, they felt it likely that Bill would be unable to do so before the burn had executed long enough to place him in a return trajectory unrecoverable with remaining fuel. Unfortunately, all contact was lost soon after the burn command was sent due to the capsule once again falling below the horizon, so it took some time for confirmation to come in through visual tracking that the craft was in fact headed back to Kerbin.

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An image recovered from Kerbin VI's science camera

Thanks to the completely unplanned return burn, the capsule ended up coming down in a mountainous region. When recovery crews finally arrived at the location of the capsule, they found Captain Bill alive but battered. He was immediately suspended from duty pending formal charges.

In the weeks that followed, Captain Bob made a full recovery and returned to active duty. Captain Bill remained suspended, and was later arrested when formal charges of failing to follow orders, being intoxicated while on duty, and poisoning Captain Bob were filed against him. The investigation that had opened after the Kerbin VI mission had led officials to learn that the medical doctor had been bribed by Bill to clear him fit to fly on the day of the launch. Working back from there they uncovered numerous police reports of drunken behavior against Bill that had been somehow swept under the rug. The KSA was never implicated for involvement in this and denied any knowledge of it. Lab results of Captain Bob's illness was linked to a high-atmospheric sample of Mystery Goo that Bob had access to while helping out in the R&D building for a time.

During his trial, Captain Bob admitted that the death of Jeb had taken him to a dark place, and he had returned to a bad habit of drinking. He had also lost all faith in the KSA and when it was announced that Bob would be second in space, his fear was Bob would die as well and the program would be cancelled, denying him the chance of ever reaching orbit himself. Captain Bob, when testifying during the trial, forgave Bill completely, even though the illness he contracted could have killed him - Bill had no way of knowing what the affect would be. Bob's cooperation during trial and Bill's testimony helped alleviate his sentencing, and Bill Kerman was officially discharged from the KSA and assigned 2.5 years of prison with rehab.

Following the sentencing of Bill, the KSA Board of Directors made the decision that training for the new group of astronauts currently underway would not be accelerated. This meant that Captain Bob would be the lone astronaut for the KSA for some time...

Edited by Gaiiden

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The second ComSat is sent to Mun to establish a network of relay communications for any orbiting space craft. Originally designed to trail Mun's orbit around Kerbin, ComSat Mun I failed to hold station in its leading position and now the KSA is constructing the same 3-satellite constellation as their LKO relay network. Flight Officer Kirk also performs 2 flights in the Mk1.2 Raker - one to video the launch from 10Km and another to drop science pods on the badlands on the other side of Kerbin.

This dispatch includes Mk1.2 Raker Flight Logs #7 and #8.

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The KSA Board was convinced another Raker would benefit the Agency and so authorized another to be purchased. Its construction was completed on the 5th of August, 2014, and FO Kirk took it out for a test flight the following day. Hoping for a good outcome of the test flight, Wernher and his team were eagerly anticipating the continuation of science missions around the vicinity of KSC.

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Following Kirk's day of successful science missions, Flight Officer Greggan finally got to try his hand at the Raker. Not surprisingly, he pushed the aircraft too fast most of the time and a lot of probe cores were replaced for him to complete his science missions. The Aerospace Group announced that they were working on a design better suited to these types of sorties. Until then, the pilots have to make do and Greggan gradually learned the technique of flying slow and steady as he carried out missions throughout the day.

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The KSA was finally on the verge of completing their ComSat network around Mun so they could begin sending orbital and surface missions in earnest to start to fully explore the nearest neighbor of Kerbin. The launch of ComSat Mun III arrived on schedule, although there were some problems earlier in the week - the SPH suffered a worker death and the VAB had to deal with a minor fuel fire. The VAB supervisor ensured that everything was alright, however a critical step in the launch readiness procedures was overlooked...

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Addendum: Several days later, after it was shown that a kerbed mission to refuel the satellite would cost more than just building a new one, ComSat Mun III was parked in its LKO orbit and handed over to the Kerbin Meteorological Society to help them study weather patterns from space using its cameras. It was re-named KWO (Kerbin Weather Observer)

Edited by Gaiiden

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After the loss of the second Raker, the Aerospace Group was under heavy scrutiny by the KSA Board of Directors. The poor mission planning that led to the Raker's destruction (as well as injury to Flight Officer Kirk) was just another problem on top of the group's already poor past design decisions. But the KSA was very interested still in a useful atmospheric craft for performing science missions around Kerbin so they allowed the Aerospace Group to build their latest design, the Mk1.3 Kerboljet. This hybrid of jet and electric propulsion was meant to fly slow and long - ascending on jet power and gliding on electric propellers. After several weeks of revising the design the first production model was constructed in the SPH. Due to Kirk's injuries, FO Greggan was to be the lead test pilot for the Mk1.3 program. This first flight log covers the initial testing and flight of the Kerboljet.

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Edited by Gaiiden

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After the so-called "Rogue Flight of Kerbin VI", the KSA made the firm decision that no further kerbed flights were to take place until a communications network of satellites were in position to allow mission control to remain in constant contact with any ship, in any orbit around Kerbin below 2Mm. To this end, the LKO (Low Kerbin Orbit) ComSats were designed to fulfill this purpose, as well as allow for future constant communication with missions around Mun. Three of them were to be launched into orbit, however not all launches went as planned...

This summary leads up to and covers the events of and between Mission Dispatches #16, #17, #18 and #19.

It only took two days after Capt Bill's return from space for the LKO ComSat funding to be approved. The plan had been in the works for some time but the situation with Kerbin VI had shown it was needed now rather than later. The design for the satellite was simple, it would use a 2.5Mm omni antenna to provide seamless communication around Kerbin, and include a dish capable of reaching out as far as Minmus, although the primary objective was to target Mun. Solar panels would power it during the day and batteries would allow it to function through the night. The ideal orbit

was calculated to allow the ComSats to stay as low as possible while allowing transmissions to remain above the atmosphere.

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The final design of ComSat I is shown below.

bU75vPPQKC?tw_i=461879199620288512&tw_e=link&tw_p=archive

ComSat I was launched on May 3rd, 2014 and took a near-vertical ascent profile in order to remain above KSC as long as possible to ensure it could be inserted into orbit before losing connection when dropping below the horizon. Flight controllers had to fight with the rocket being top-heavy and sluggish on ascent and took extra care to ensure that everything staged from the craft was to fall back and burn up in the atmosphere, however in doing so they modified the ascent profile enough to place ComSat I on an orbit that carried it as far as 4.4Mm away from Kerbin, although they thoughtfully left its periapsis a few kilometers within Kerbin's atmosphere so that the craft could aerobrake its way back down to a proper orbit. This process took nearly 10 hours, although it was sped up some by making two lower 40km passes. Scheduled burn commands were essential in controlling the craft during times it was out of contact, and mission planners had to also deal with the craft running out of electrical power, but when it tumbled after passing through the atmosphere this allowed the panels to orient towards the sun often enough to provide power to recover control of the craft.

After an all-night session, ComSat I was finally in its proper orbit, and changes were already being made to the next two ComSats under construction. In addition to a larger torque wheel for the launch rocket, engineers had to install larger battery packs so that the dish and antenna could both be used simultaneously through the night transit.

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ComSat II, pictured above, launched in the late afternoon of May 8th and although the modified launch vehicle allowed for better control, a shallower ascent trajectory presented other problems. The KSA hoped to use a more efficient ascent profile that would carry the rocket over the horizon sooner, but still maintain contact thanks to ComSat I being overhead at the time. However the turnover towards level flight was made too early and denser air in the lower atmosphere caused enough friction to burn away the solar panels after the fairings were prematurely ejected. Although the satellite made it up into a stable orbit, without the solar panels providing power, electric charge was drained before any further maneuvers could take place.

On May 10th it was ComSat III's turn. Engineers dialed back the thrust on the solid rocket boosters so the craft was traveling slower while it was still in the thicker air, and the fairings were allowed to stay on the rocket longer into the ascent. However, even with these changes the ascent trajectory still proved to be too shallow and heating managed to destroy the launch antenna that provided control commands to the rocket, causing it to burn up and crash into the ocean.

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Because there was never to be a ComSat IV, an entirely new satellite had to be constructed and so it was not until May 16th that the new ComSat III (above) launched into orbit, using an even more conservative ascent profile to prevent air friction from becoming a problem during ascent. Insertion into orbit was smooth, and the process of placing the ComSat into the planned orbit also went fairly well. The only minor problem was that not enough planning was used to get the proper interval between ComSat I and III so when the time came for the final burn to place ComSat III L/O fuel was expired and RCS thrust was needed. This was touchy since RCS thrust had to be performed while a connection was established, and controllers almost missed the window.

With all three ComSats in orbit, the KSA was now forced to resume kerbed orbital flights because ComSats I and II required maintenance in order to make the network fully operational. To do this, Capt Bob would need to fly a craft up into orbit and into a close approach with the satellites. Bringing two spacecraft orbits together had never been attempted before and the KSA engineers and scientists were working hard to figure out how it could be done...

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I've been wanting to do this for months but I couldn't come up with a good way to go about it since the site offers such limited HTML support, I couldn't figure out a way to include stats and ribbons in the thread without creating a post for each crew member, or filling the first post with tables. More importantly, I hated the idea of putting up ribbons without an easy way to identify them. Tonight I finally had the epiphany of being able to pop a window up after calling another external page that closes itself. Yes, it's kind of like a pop-up ad and in fact my browser made me ok pop-ups from my site domain. But it lets me created an accessible HTML page I can format however I want. To keep it friendly, whenever a link is clicked inside the window it closes, because the link will open in your main browser and now you have a pop up window under your main browser window you may forget about, or have to alt+tab over to close. Blech, I hate that too don't worry.

If anyone wants to implement this for their own mission threads, here's how to do it. You need your own webserver or host, first of all, that can contain the HTML files. You start with a file that opens the popup window and closes itself:


<html>
<head>
<script>
function centeredPopup(url,winName,w,h,scroll){
LeftPosition = (screen.width) ? (screen.width-w)/2 : 0;
TopPosition = (screen.height) ? (screen.height-h)/2 : 0;
settings = 'height='+h+',width='+w+',top='+TopPosition+',left='+LeftPosition+',resizable=no,scrollbars=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,location=no,directories=no, status=no'
window.open('http://www.blade-edge.com/images/KSA/Roster/JebediahCase.htm','Kerbal Decoration Board',settings)
window.close()
}
</script>
</head>
<body onload="centeredPopup('http://imgur.com/ZaDJRxG','myWindow','800','615','no')">
</body>
</html>
<!DOCTYPE html>

Note that in the code above I'm not using the first two parameters of the function, I actually hard-code the values in the window.open command. No real reason, the code was copied from a tutorial site so I hacked it up a bit. Now you just need to craft the page that you want to appear in the pop-up window.

Auto-updates!

Thanks to the code I wrote for my flight tracker, I can now have these windows auto-update so I just have to create the pages ahead of time then sit back and let it take care of itself with new data at the appropriate times without having to babysit it.

Edited by Gaiiden

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The KSA finally recovered enough from the atmospheric asteroid explosion just over 150km west of the KSC at the end of August to complete assembly of the third Munar comsat and launch it on its mission to complete the Munar relay network. The previous attempt had ended in failure due to wrongly-tuned boosters, but Lead Engineer Simon personally oversaw the final stages of the rocket construction to ensure booster thrust was set properly. In addition to completing the communications network around Mun, once separated the transfer stage would perform a fly-through of the impact cloud kicked up when the previous Mun comsat transfer stage, still in orbit, slams into the Munar surface. Lead Scientist Wernher Von Kerman had devised a new dust collector experiment for this purpose, although the collectors are also capable of collecting interstellar particles. Finally, there was a chance to arrange a very close (1.3km) fly-by of a passing asteroid in the hopes of photographing it prior to the launch of ComSat Mun III.

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