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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


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