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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Flameholder engines
chabot imageWe did a lot more development with various flameholders and ignition systems.
Slitting the tubing lengthwise and making crosses out of it was labor intensive, so we started working with 316 stainless angles. I had to go someplace other than McMaster-Carr for these -- http://www.supremestainless.com/ had everything I needed in stock, but would only ship mill lengths (20’) by truck. I got some of each size from ¾” to 2” legs.
A single 1.25” angle across the chamber gave a visibly stronger flame than the tubing cross. The book “Gas Turbine Combustion” by Arthur H. Lefebvre (a good, informative book) has some data on flameholders that follow a few general trends: larger flameholders are more stable than multiple smaller ones, and for angular gutters, increasing the angle (from 60 to 90, for example) increases the stability, but at an increased pressure drop. Read More

Saturday, February 28, 2004

ARCA News: finished the work to the main parachute
chabot imageToday was finished the work to the main parachute for the demonstrator vehicle. ARCA constructed this parachute because we couldn’t find one available on the market to meet the specifications. The ground deployment tests will begin in the next week. More Info

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Flameholders
chabot imageWe had a couple more things to cut-and-try on the vehicle engines to see if we could get them to behave better, but I decided to step back and think about the problem a little more.
Our working theory about the operation of our mixed-monoprop engines is that the “cold pack” decomposes some of the 50% peroxide and vaporizes the methonal, which gives a somewhat combustible atmosphere that can be ignited by the glow plug and stabilized behind the perforated metal plate. With a stable flame in the open space between the cold pack and the hot pack, the remaining liquid (water and undecomposed hydrogen peroxide) will be vaporized and heated enough that when it enters the “hot pack” it decomposed and further combusts without progressively quenching the pack as all of our early attempts would do, even if we had preheated the pack to very high temperatures. When the hot pack has been preheated enough, it radiates quite a bit of heat back up to the perforated metal flameholder, helping to stabilize the flame. Once it gets fully established, the engine runs very stably, but the problem for us has been getting the engine up to its operating steady state. Read More

Friday, February 20, 2004

ARCA News: The test stand for the first reaction chamber of the Demonstrator 2 was complete since January
chabot imageARCA reported today that, The test stand for the first reaction chamber of the Demonstrator 2 was complete since January. Unfortunately the bad weather not allows us to go to the test site. Here are two pictures from the verification of the digital thrust force device. More Info

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: 63" Bulkhead, Custom boards, Engine work
chabot imageThe custom honeycomb bulkhead for the next vehicle arrived, and we have started prepping it. The current cabin has a 40” diameter bulkhead midway up the cone with a fairly sparse 2” thick aluminum honeycomb core. We have pressurized the cabin to 18 psi without any problems. The new bulkhead will be going on the bottom of the next vehicle, and is a full 63” diameter, so it needs to be stronger to compensate for the larger span. We had Teklam build the strongest panel they could conveniently put together, which turned out to be a 3” aluminum core with increased density, and double ply fiberglass facing sheets. This gives significantly more margin than the current bulkhead, and only weighs 39 pounds. Read More

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The X PRIZE is prominently featured the front page of the Feb 10 USA Today. The article, titled "U.S. on Verge of Private Space Travel," states that "By the end of the year, humans are likely to ride a privately funded spaceship into suborbital space for the first time, an organizer of a competition encouraging such flights said Monday.... The $10 million X Prize contest seems likely to change the government monopoly on space flight. About two dozen teams from around the world are competing to launch the first privately funded vehicle that would fly people into space." To read the rest of the article, click here.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Electronics work, Engine problems
chabot imageBecause we had to put the flight computer on the charger several times during testing last Saturday, I replaced the main battery with a new one nearly three times as large. That took a fair amount of rearranging on the electronics board, but it should allow us to have the computer on for almost six hours without a problem. Our electronics are all still on the circular board that was originally intended for the 2’ diameter vehicle, even though it looks like we are probably never going to fly that configuration. I will probably wind up rebuilding it on a new mounting board the next time we make a major change.
I finally figured out why I couldn’t get the four port serial board working with the Ampro CPU board: the highly integrated board only has two free IRQ available in the default configuration, one of which wasn’t available on the serial port board. The Ampro won’t let anything else on the PC104 stack fire an interrupt that it might, even if you aren’t using that particular device, like the floppy or LPT port. The latest bios flash lets you disable the LPT port to get another one back, which I will have to do for the next serial port I need (or mess with the linux kernel to get shared IRQ working with the WinSystems four port board). I am looking forward to moving to the latest Ampro CoreModule board, which includes four rs232 ports on the CPU board. That will cut our PC104 stack to only two boards, the Ampro and the AccessIO A/D + DIO board. Read More

Friday, February 06, 2004

"[This] request includes funding to establish a series of annual prizes for revolutionary, breakthrough accomplishments that advance exploration of the solar system and beyond and other NASA goals. Some of the most difficult technical challenges to exploration will require very novel solutions from non-traditional sources of innovation. By making awards based on actual achievements instead of proposals, NASA will tap innovators in academia, industry, and the public who do not normally work on NASA issues. Centential Challenges will be modeled on past successes, including 19th century navigation prizes, early 20th century aviation prizes, and more recent prizes offered by the U.S. government and private sector. Examples of potential Centennial Challenges include very-low-cost space missions, contests to demonstrate highly mobile, capable, and survivable robotic systems, and fundamental advances in technical areas like lander navigation, spacecraft power systems, life detection sensors, and nano-materials."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Canadian Arrow News: Astronaut photos are available for purchase
chabot imageAstronaut photos are available for purchase

More info

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Space Transport Corp. News: STC develops 12-inch engine
chabot imageOn Feb. 3, STC conducted the first static development test of their 12"-diameter engine. In static tests, the engines are oriented "nozzle-up" and the engine does not move.
Within 1 second of ignition, the engine over-pressurized resulting in a bulkhead blowout. The engine was properly restrained to the test fixture during subsequent burnout. The test provided information that will lead to improvements in STC's proprietary manufacturing procedure. Another test is planned before the end of February.
STC has encountered similar over-pressure issues with smaller engines. Experience has shown that this sort of problem is easily resolved without significant redesign and is not related to repeatability or quality control.
More Info

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