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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Scaled Composites news: First manned captive carry flight of SpaceShipOne
chabot imageObjectives: First manned captive carry flight of SpaceShipOne. A man-in-loop launch rehearsal and inflight checkout of all ship systems including flight controls and propulsion sytem plumbing.
Results: Complete full up rehearsal for SS1's first glide flight, including airspace, range control, Scaled mission control, data and video TM and high and low chase platforms. Providing high chase was one of Burt Rutan's earlier designs - the StarShip, owned and operated by Robert Sherer. See accompanying photos in the Tier-1 Photo section for the unique formation of the Starship, Spaceship and White Knight. All SpaceShipOne's systems were exercised, including the environmental control, electrical, pneumantic and avionics. Flight control force versus displacement data was obtained to validate simulation modelling and even the space ship's feather control was exercised after cold soak at altitude. All systems performed satisfactorily including nitrous tank heating by WhiteKnight bleed air and the pilot controlled N2O dump valve. Read More

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Big vehicle plumbing, more mixed monoprop tests
chabot imageWe assembled and tested the major fill and drain plumbing for the big vehicle this week. To be able to load and drain 800+ gallons of propellant in a short amount of time, the plumbing is quite large. We are using 2” cam and groove hose couplings for connections, and we are welding 2” pipe connections wherever possible, instead of using NPT connections. We machined custom aluminum flanges to replace the NPT flanges on our KZCO servo valve for the master cutoff, which allows us to do away with rotating connections there. We still have NPT connections between the stainless steel check valve and aluminum hardware on the loading side.
Fitting a 1/8” thick O-ring to an 18” diameter groove is a pain, because the groove isn’t really deep enough to keep it from wanting to pop out as you move around the circumference. A thicker O-ring would have made life easier, but then we would have needed to use a thicker flange plate, which would have added weight and required longer flange bolts. We used Teflon thread sealant to stick down the O-ring as we moved it into position, which worked out well enough. Read More

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Unequivocal Mixed Monoprop Success
chabot imageOn Tuesday, we received our third style of catalyst from Catalytic Products International. This catalyst is a 3.5” tall roll of platinum plated corrugated foil. Unlike the random bale metal we tested last week, this material has a solid bond that doesn’t rub or wash off, and it seems as active as the ceramic monolith catalyst. The catalyst we got on short notice has 200 pores per inch, but it can also be fabricated at 400 ppi. Corrugations give slightly more surface area to volume ratio than square pores, but the 200 ppi sample should still be presenting less surface area than the 400 ppi ceramic monolith.
The physical characteristics of the foil catalyst are nicer than the ceramic monoliths, because it won’t crack or chip. We had to cut a small ramp into the engines to allow us to squeeze fit it in, but it made a nice, tight seal, and it was plenty rigid to be self-supporting at this diameter. Read More

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Catalyst bale, Forced preheat, Big vehicle work
chabot imageWe tried an alternate catalyst design fro Catalytic Products International this week. It is basically a mass of thin stainless steel ribbons that have been crimped like heating elements, then coated with a catalyst. It is provided in a pack wired together like a hay bale. We were hoping that a platinum based catalyst on a stainless steel base would be a metallic bond, but it turned out to be more of a platinum-black powder coating, and the adhesion was terrible. It was probably fine for gas processing (the intended application), but you could rub the coating off with gloved fingers, and rocket engine liquid / high speed gas flows took it right off. Baking it on under flame helped a bit, but not nearly enough. When we fired an engine with this catalyst in it, we wound up with a big ring of black goo on the ground under the nozzle where all the catalyst had been washed off. Read More

Friday, July 11, 2003

Scaled Composites news: Pilot proficiency, First flight for SpaceShipOne crew chief.
chabot imageObjectives:
Pilot proficiency. First flight for SpaceShipOne crew chief.
Made several practice SpaceshipOne approaches using various configurations and runways. Good exposure for SS1 crewchief Steve Losey on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission. Read More

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Helicopter drop test
chabot imageWe finished up all of the prep work for the vehicle on Tuesday. We welded in strapping points to hold 600 pounds of “passenger” sandbags in the cabin area, and we mounted five 45 pound Olympic barbell plates on a peg at the end to simulate the weight of the final engines, plumbing, and backup recovery system that will be on the full size vehicle. We mounted four 2” throat engine shells as placeholders. Total weight is just under 2400 pounds. We use a combination of multiple chain hoists, a palette jack, and a forklift to move the full vehicle around and get it up on the trailer, but we did wind up breaking one of the castor wheels that we had mounted on our tank cradle. If we wind up having to use the 1600 gallon propellant tank (the current one is 850 gallons), we aren’t going to be able to stand the vehicle up under the main girder inside our shop, which will be inconvenient.
On Saturday, we headed out to our test site for the drop test. There were quite a few stares on the road in transit… We had a few spatters of rain, and the wind occasionally gusted to 12 knots, but we were able to perform the drop in relatively calm 6 knot winds. Read More

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Scaled Composites news: First glide flight profile rehearsal
chabot imageObjectives:
First glide flight profile rehearsal / two ship checklist flow / airspace coordination / Command and Control responsibilities and handoffs.
Good exercise of all involved parties and agencies including the Edwards air Force Base, Joshua Control and Scaled Composites, Utility Mobile ground station. Read More

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