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Saturday, May 24, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Big vehicle work
chabot imageThe big vehicle will be hover tested hanging from four climbing ropes under a big crane. We usually lift the cabin with chains through eye nuts on the seat belt harness backup plates towards the middle of the honeycomb bulkhead, but for load points that may take a pretty good shock, we want to feed directly into the cone metal. If we just grabbed at the top, it would certainly bend the metal on a hard hit. We have some 2” square blocks of milled aluminum already welded in up there as a secondary catch in case the main bulkhead bond ever lets go, but it took some work to arrange for lifting points from there.
If we had thought it all the way through earlier, we would have drilled ¾” holes in each of our bulkhead backup blocks before we welded them in, which would have let us just tie the rope off around a bolt through there, but we can’t get a big drill in with them already mounted. We turned some little bars that we carefully welded in with lots of back-side water cooling to keep from cooking the nearby epoxy bond, but we were still a bit unsure of the joint strength. We decided to drill a hole through the bracket from the outside of the cabin, and thread the rope through that, then tie off to the bar, so it is pulling into the block instead of out of it. There is a danger of cutting the rope like this, so we are going to smooth it out pretty carefully. Read More

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Scaled Composites news: First captive carry flight with mated White Knight and SpaceShipOne
chabot imageObjectives: First captive carry flight with mated White Knight and SpaceShipOne. Vibration and aerodynamic interface assessment. Mated handling qualities evaluation. Envelope expansion to 130 knots / Mach 0.5 above 45,000 feet. Stalls and 2/3-rudder sideslips. SpaceShipOne systems inactive, controls locked and cabin unmanned. Launch system was qualified and functional for this flight.
Results: Excellent two-ship stability & control throughout the envelope. No interference or vibration issues. Smooth surface flows on SS1 except around rocket nozzle. Two-ship performance was as predicted. Mach .53 was achieved at 48,000 ft. Climb rate at 48,000 ft was 700 ft/min. Envelope was cleared for future manned captive carry and glide flights.
Next flight should be a manned captive carry in which all SpaceShipOne systems (except rocket propulsion) will be tested at altitudes up to 50,000 ft. If successful, the glide flights will follow soon, since the systems preparation and pilot training requirements are the same. Read More

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: More miscellaneous
chabot imageWe were a little bit light this week, because I had E3 business, and Russ and Phil’s company had their respective industry trade show, but we still got a lot done.
Joseph is all ready to pour concrete for our peroxide storage building.
We got in the rolled and welded cones for three small crush cones and two large ones, so we did all the hole marking and drilling. We are not adding vent holes on the small cones, because there is still 4x the volume in uncrushable cone and coupler underneath it, so overpressure shouldn’t be an issue.
We got in the conical flanges that will be permanently mounted to the tanks, allowing us to unbolt the entire cabin section for work or swapping to another tank. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite long enough. The were 7” long, but at a 10 degree angle, the 1/8” thickness and manufacturing tolerances caused the cabin to sit about 3” higher than expected. We could just barely have made it work, but I decided to get new flange hoops made that are 11” long. The annoying thing is that I should have realized that there was no downside to making them taller in the first place (except a little weight) – I was worried about it interfering with the hatch reinforcement plate, but that sits on the outside of the cone, so it wouldn’t have mattered. Read More

Friday, May 02, 2003

Scaled Composites news: Engine performance at altitude
chabot imageObjectives:
Engine performance at altitude. New pilot masks and ECS airflow routing. Regulated bleed air control of the aft cabin temperature (to test the capability to heat SpaceShipOne's nitrous oxidizer. Appraisal of new traffic alert system.
Engines showed much improved performance up to 50,000 feet. ECS changes confirmed to assure clear windows for landing. Successful bleed air heating test: good control and sufficient energy for SS1 propellant heating. Read More

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