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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

chabot imageIL Aerospace Technologies (ILAT) has unveiled today its new X Prize competition vehicle design now called "NEGEV" (formerly named NEGEV-5).
Aside from the name, the vehicle's configuration has gone through several design iterations in the last 3 months. These modifications originated from as fresh set of innovative concepts derived from ILAT's recently formed technical team and advisory committee, which now comprises Mr. Dov Raviv (former head of Israel Aircraft Industries MLM division); senior aeronautical engineers from AERODAN Systems; and IAF Lt. Col. Itzak Mayo (Israeli astronaut and backup to Ilan Ramon during STS-107).
After several brainstorming and design review sessions, ILAT opted to keep their original concept of using a balloon as a first stage, but not without significant changes. "The advantages of using such launch platform clearly outweigh the disadvantages in terms of simplicity ", said Dov Chartarifsky, ILAT Founder and CEO. "However, in order to meet our new requirements for altitude takeoff, we decided to use a smaller more robust hot-air/helium mixed design rather than the larger, more fragile, polyurethane super-pressure design".
Besides the balloon configuration, ILAT made a more radical decision to change the rocket motor design from a hybrid type that is yet to be developed, to a commercially available solid motor design with an impeccable record for safety and reliability. This radical change was necessary to give ILAT a fighting chance at winning the X Prize before the end of 2004 without sacrificing safety. The downfall of the solid motor is that it is not reusable, and therefore it will have to be replaced on the second flight attempt. This will not violate any X Prize rules since the burnout weight of the rocket motor is less than 10% of the vehicle's total dry weight. "We haven't discarded the hybrid motor concept, in fact, we plan to develop and qualify a hybrid motor before entering the commercialization phase of our program. We regard this to be a gutsy decision on our part, but we feel confidant in our ability to fly our vehicle before the X Prize deadline expires, continued Dov Chartarifsky. Read More

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Hydrotest, Big vehicle work, Engine work
chabot imageWe received a new 100 gallon tank from Structural last week to do another hydrotest on. The previous tank we tested failed at 600 psi, but it had a clear and obvious weak point in the lightweight and incomplete cast aluminum winding flange on the bottom of the tank. The new tank has proper flanges on both sides, and we bolted our own milled aluminum flanges to the ends.
Neil borrowed a real hydrotest machine from his work for this test. We had to change some things on it, because it was set up with a 20,000 psi gauge. Neil said this was their low pressure one! The machine runs on shop air, and it took a painfully long time to bring the pressure up. Neil commented on how different hydrotesting a fiberglass tank was from the steel vessels they normally work with – the steel vessels have so little stretch that they come up to pressure very rapidly.
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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Drum pump, Powered landing, Engine work
chabot imageWe have been experimenting with different ways to load the big vehicle with propellant. Without a launch license, we are limited to somewhat less than three drums of propellant, so our current handling procedures are based around drums. When we fly larger loads, we will probably be loading directly from a large capacity storage tank
We have previously loaded the big tank by filling the 80 gallon tank on the trailer, then pressure feeding that into the vehicle tank. This leaves the problem of getting it into the transfer tank, and also gives us another good sized piece of equipment to cart around. Another problem we had was that pressurizing the transfer tank to push the propellant into the vehicle tank caused the big hose to kick around quite violently. Read More

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

chabot imageThe X PRIZE (www.xprize.org) competition took another step forward on this historic 100th anniversary of flight with the supersonic flight of Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne. This represents the first manned supersonic flight by an aircraft developed by a private, non-government effort.
"We're very excited that Rutan's flight was successful. This is the first of many private flight attempts by X PRIZE teams to open the space frontier. It is appropriate the Burt chose December 17th for his first rocket-powered step towards space. We hope by this time next year the X PRIZE will be claimed and the myth that spaceflight is only for governments will be shattered. It is on that day that we will have the champagne ready and chilled." Read More

Monday, December 15, 2003

With flight tests, engine firings and hardware rollouts occurring on a weekly basis, the pace of the X PRIZE New Race to Space has hit an all-time high. This Wednesday, December 17th, 2003, people all over the planet will celebrate the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers. This 100-year anniversary is a time of reflection and appreciation for many; to the 27 X PRIZE Teams competing to become the first private astronauts, it is a special source of inspiration.
Three new teams have joined the X PRIZE Competition in past month. Space Transport Corporation of Washington State, High Altitude Research Corporation (HARC) from Huntsville, Alabama and Blue Ridge Nebula Airlines based outside of Denver, Colorado.
"Less than 450 astronauts and only a handful of piloted space vehicles have flown during the past 42 years," says Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X PRIZE. "It is our intention that the X PRIZE usher in a Golden Age of spaceflight creating thousands of private astronauts flying aboard dozens of privately owned and operated spaceships."

chabot image26 Teams from 7 Nations compete to win X PRIZE, this downloadable summary provides an update of their status and efforts to win during 2004.

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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Engine development, preparing for flight
chabot imageWe went through 70 gallons of peroxide this week. We have worked out a nice system for extended length testing – we pump four gallons of peroxide at a time into five gallon carboys, and fill one gallon jugs with the right amount of methanol (about 3 liters). To make a run, all we have to do is dump a methanol jug into a carboy and shake it up. Because quenching is one of our major concerns, we aren’t bothering with any shorter runs. Our peroxide supply seems to be all straightened out, so we might as well make the runs long. Read More

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Armadillo Aerospace News: Vehicle work, Rocket Anchor, GPS, Engines
chabot imageAll the new engine angle shims or tack welded in place so we can’t get any of them cocked at the wrong angle on subsequent assemblies.
We added a large battery mount and relay for powering four glow plugs on the vehicle.
All of the motor valves are bolted to welded brackets, and oriented horizontally. This requires a 90 before the engine, which hurts flow a bit, but makes it much more robust. The KZCO valves have tended to break the actuator away from the valve upon a hard landing when they are oriented vertically. Read More

ARCA News: ARCA team leader, Dumitru Popescu, participated in Frankfurt, Germany at the Euromold Fair.
chabot imageARCA team leader, Dumitru Popescu, participated in Frankfurt, Germany at the Euromold Fair.
During this event german team leader Mathias Ditsch presented the major objectives for the Euromold X Prize Team. Dumitru Popescu presented the lecture: “Applied Research in Rocket Propulsion”.
More Info

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Scaled Composites news: The seventh glide flight of SpaceShipOne
chabot imageObjectives: The seventh glide flight of SpaceShipOne and new pilot check out. Full functional check of the propulsion system by cold flowing nitrous oxide. Completed airspeed and positive and negative G-envelope expansion.
Results: Launch conditions were 48,400 feet and 115 knots. All propulsion components, displays and functionality performed as designed. The feather was extended after a 4G pull-up to the vertical at 24,500 feet and rudder used to induce sideslip and yaw rates while "going-over-the-top". The vehicle recovered to a stable attitude and descent after only a single oscillation. The landing pattern was flown following established procedures resulting in a satisfactory touchdown. More Info

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