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Thursday, November 27, 2003

chabot imageIn the continuing quest to build the first privately funded reusable spacecraft, IL Aerospace technologies (ILAT) introduced today their newest team member: Professor Claude Oiknine, one of Israel's top scientist and pioneer of the "Shavit" satellite launcher among other high-profile space programs. Prof. Oiknine was appointed Chief Technical Officer of ILAT where he will lead the Israeli effort in every technical capacity. In addition to this appointment, the team received another boost from AERODAN Systems LTD, an innovated aeronautical engineering firm comprised of more than 25 top-notch industry experts. AERODAN has agreed to provide ILAT with a broad range of services in the subjects of aerodynamics, heat transfer, performance simulations, finite element analysis (FEA), guidance and control.
"This is exactly what our team needed", said Dov Chartarifsky, ILAT Founder and CEO. "Having a world renowned expert of the caliber of Prof. Oiknine join our team, places us closer to our goal of winning the X Prize and establishing the world's first private space program". Read More

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Vehicle modifications and tests, New engine test
chabot imageBecause the new engines have the mounting flange on top, and hang down a lot lower, we had to raise the vehicle up a fair amount and relocate the engines. We moved the engine mount points inboard, and made an extension to mount the wire rope isolators directly under the support struts. We chopped off the old extension brackets we had previously used for the isolators (hurray for the plasma cutter…), so this was actually a small net savings in weight. If we started over, we would just have longer side panels and angle braces and avoid the extension. Read More

Friday, November 21, 2003

chabot imageHigh Altitude Research Corporation Inc. (HARC) will present the latest entry, the Liberator, into the X PRIZE Competition, a 10 Million international contest aimed at jump starting the manned commercial space industry. HARC will hold a press event to introduce the team, tour their amazing facilities, unveil the Liberator Capsule and test fire a Hybrid Rocket Motor. More Info

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Scaled Composites news: The sixth glide flight of SpaceShipOne
chabot imageObjectives: The sixth glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Test pilot Mike Melvill's first flight with the enlarged tails. Emergency aft CG handling qualities eval and simulated landing exercise with the new tail configuration. Airspeed and G envelop expansion and dynamic feather evaluation.
Results: Launch conditions were 48,300 feet and 115 knots. Satisfactory vehicle handling characteristics at the emergency CG limit. Melvill reported improved stability, improved control powers and improved stick forces throughout the flight profile. The feather was extended after a 3G pull-up to the vertical at 30,000 feet. The vehicle recovered to a stable attitude and descent after a few mild oscillations. The landing pattern was flown at a higher airspeed than previous flights which allowed for a more controlled flare and landing at the nominal touchdown point. More Info

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Air Liquide peroxide, Misc, Welded engines
chabot imageWe fired one of our engines with 50% unstabilized semiconductor grade peroxide from Air Liquide. It worked perfectly. This actually looks cleaner than the 50% propulsion grade we got from FMC – the Air Liquide reads 1 ppm on the TDS meter, while the FMC stock reads 4 ppm to 5 ppm. (stabilized Solvay food grade read 18 ppm, and stabilized FMC technical grade read 232 ppm)
It looks like our supply problems are finally over. We have a solid engine combination, and a willing propellant supplier. Hurray! It sucked that the lack of 90% peroxide prevented us from flying any vehicles for the last eight months, but all the work that went into the mixed-monoprop propulsion system has probably been for the best anyway. The propellant is several times cheaper, gives 20% better Isp, and is generally better to work with (less caustic, and less material sensitive). The development work has also given us catalysts that we will be able to use with 98% peroxide when we are ready to work on high energy upper stage biprop engines. Read More

Friday, November 14, 2003

Scaled Composites news: The fifth glide flight of SpaceShipOne
chabot imageObjectives: The fifth glide flight of SpaceShipOne. New pilot checkout flight. Stability and control testing with the new extended horizontal tails. Tests included stall performance at aft limit CG and evaluation of the increased pitch and roll control authority. Other objectives included additional testing of the motor controller (MCS) and handling qualities in feathered flight.
Results: Launch conditions were 47,300 feet and 115 knots. Satisfactory stability and control at aft limit CG. A notable improvement in control power, particularly in roll. Handling qualities into and out of feather remained excellent with good nose pointing ability. Adjusted landing pattern altitudes resulted in a touchdown at the targeted runway aim-point. Read More

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: 1000 lbf mixed monoprop
chabot imageSafety note: we found a crack in one of our 5 gallon HDPE carboys that we use as a transfer container when loading peroxide from drums to our run tanks. We always keep the carboys on a containment palette, so there was no spillage, but a few hundred ml of peroxide has probably leaked out into the containment sump when I noticed the crack. We pumped the peroxide to a new container and tossed the cracked one out. I checked my records, and we had been using that particular carboy for a bit over two years, which was probably a mistake. The first year of that was with 90% peroxide, which is known to embrittle PE after extended exposure. We had a bunch of new carboys, but we hadn’t tossed the old ones out. Read More

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Scaled Composites news: White Knight Flight Avionics upgrade evaluation and landing pattern practice.
chabot imageObjectives:
Avionics upgrade evaluation and landing pattern practice.
Satisfactory GPS-aided INS stability and position keeping through a normal launch and glide flight profile.
Read More

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Tank burst test, Engine scale-up, Plasma cutter
chabot imageWe hydrostatically tested one of the Structural fiberglass tanks this weekend. The 24” x 50” tanks we use on the subscale vehicle have plastic screw threads, which we were confident would be the first thing to go, so I ordered a somewhat larger tank that had a bolted flange. I had hoped that the single flanged tank would have a complete fiberglass overwrap on the non-flanged end, but it turned out that it has a cast aluminum integral piece that was probably used to hold the tank during the winding process. To my surprise, it had a few pockets of exposed liner on this bottom flange, which I expected to be the first part to let go.
We filled the tank with water, then filled our trailer test tank with water, and connected that through a very small orifice line to the top of the tank, then began pressurizing it. As always, these tanks make a distressing amount of snapping and popping sounds as the pressure is increased. We took it up 50 psi at a time to 600 psi, let it sit there for a while, then relieved the pressure. We took it back up slowly again, which it did without much popping, and let it sit at 600 psi for a little while. When we took it up 50 psi more, the bottom flange burst. When we looked at the bottom, it appears that the aluminum flange broke before the liner could extrude through the holes, although there were significant visible stress lines on the exposed liner. Read More

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