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Monday, May 31, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace: Boosted hop
chabot imageWe changed our A/D from the AccessIO board to a Diamond-MM-32-AT PC104 A/D board. Hopefully this one won’t give us as many problems. We also went back to a dedicated battery for the actuators, instead of sharing it with the main power supply. I couldn’t fit another big battery on the electronics board, so I had to mount it remotely.
On Tuesday we did eight hover tests trying to reduce the back and forth swaying in position hold a bit. The variables that go into the control equation are angular position, angular rate, angular acceleration (not currently used), inertial velocity, and inertial position. After trying variations on all the parameters, it turns out my initial guess worked best. Next day analysis showed that while the initial ratios of parameters were probably pretty close to right, the total scaling of all the parameters could be increased quite a bit before hitting the maximum slew rate of the actuators. I added a new parameter that globally scaled all the tipping parameters, and set it to 1.25 to boost everything up a bit.Read More
A Very nice picture http://media.armadilloaerospace.com/2004_05_30/flight_5.jpg
There're also 2 movies available, windyhover.mpg and boostedhop.mpg

Sunday, May 30, 2004

chabot imageA new XPrize newsletter is sent to all members subcribed on the newsletter mailing list.

We have put the newsletter online over here.
For reading the previous april newsletter, visit this page.

Private spaceships
Almost three months ago, amid great fanfare, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a historic measure to open the door to private-sector spaceflight — a measure that would allow entrepreneurs to take passengers on suborbital space trips.
The chairman of the House Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert, called the legislation "one of the most important measures this committee will move this year." California millionaire Dennis Tito, the world's first paying space passenger, said "I hope the Senate takes up this bill soon and sends it on to President Bush for his signature."
But since then, the bill — known as the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, or H.R. 3752 — has languished without Senate action. And some in the infant space travel industry are increasingly worried the measure might just fizzle out.
Without the legislation, private spaceflight could be left in "legal limbo," said XCOR Aerospace, a California-based company that received a suborbital launch license just last month. Read More

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Brian Cook Remembered
chabot imageBrian Cook, one of the key team members of the da Vinci Project passed away on May 24th - Brian Cook was one of the projects key Public Relations people and is the son of Al Cook, the projects flight controller. The projects team leader, Brian Feeney, met Brian Cook about 1 ½ years ago following a telephone call where he asked if he could fly on the ship into space. Like many of us, he realized there was a line up but nonetheless threw himself behind the project full force arranging key relationships with government. He was instrumental in establishing the sizable Saskatchewan based launch team. Brian Cook was a pioneering spirit and will always be a part of the project and be remembered by the da Vinci Project Team. His enthusiasm for our greater goal of opening up space to everyone has been an inspiration to all of us. He'll be sitting along side Brian Feeney on that first flight, and we’re sure, will be a guiding light to a safe journey...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

New Mexico gets space shot inquiries
chabot imageThree crews that are competing to be the first private team to launch a reusable launch vehicle into space have inquired about being able to launch their vehicles from New Mexico, New Mexico Economic Development Department Rick Homans said Wednesday.
The inquires have come from teams that are competing for the X PRIZE, a $10 million award that will be given to the first private team that can put a reusable launch vehicle 62.5 miles into space, return it and its crew safely to earth, and repeat the launch within two weeks. So far, 26 teams from seven nations are competing for the X PRIZE.Homans said the launch inquiries came quickly after May 11, when the St. Louis-based X PRIZE Foundation announced that New Mexico had won the competition to host the X PRIZE Cup, an annual, two-week-long space show that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the state. New Mexico beat out Florida for the event.
"Three of the contestants for the X PRIZE have contacted us about the possibility of doing their launches in New Mexico," Homans said. "That does not mean that those launches will come to pass, but these are the kind of calls we welcome."
Promoters of the X PRIZE Cup are hoping it will be the space equivalent of the Oshkosh Air Show, which is held every year in Oshkosh, WI. They say it could be a huge tourist draw to the state.
The first X PRIZE Cup will be held at White Sands Missile Range in the summer of 2005. Gov. Bill Richardson's administration has set aside $9 million to help build the infrastructure for the first show. It hopes that within two or three years the event will be held at a commercial spaceport that the state is hoping to build north of Las Cruces. Read More

chabot imageXPrize.com reported today: Team TGV continues working diligently towards their goal of developing a profitable vertical takeoff/vertical landing rocketship, the "MICHELLE-B". Since their recent relocation to Norman, Oklahoma, TGV has put together a technical team with over 200 years of aerospace experience among the group. According to team leader and TGV CEO Pat Bahn, "We continue working with a marvelous group of subcontractors, partners, stakeholders and customers in preparing to bend metal and make noise. We would love to meet anyone who will be attending the National Space Society's International Space Development Society's ISDC event in Oklahoma city over the Memorial Day weekend." For more information on www.tgv-rockets.com.

chabot imageXPrize.com reports: Estes Industries, the world leader in model rocketry, recently announced the creation of a line of flyable scaled models of ANSARI X PRIZE ships at the NATIONAL RETAIL HOBBY STORES ASSOCIATION convention in Las Vegas in mid-May. In his presentation about the X PRIZE competition at this hobby industry gathering, X PRIZE Chairman Dr. Peter Diamandis recognized "the value of models in getting young people interested in rockets and space exploration". Gregg Maryniak, X PRIZE Executive Director, noted that "All of us at X PRIZE Foundation--and most of our registered team members--built Estes rockets during our careers. It's a pleasure to have Estes as a new education partner." Estes also plans a line of collectible die-casts to complement the flying models, and has devoted the Company's entire line of new models for the coming year to the X PRIZE teams. Watch for further information at www.estesrockets.com

UPDATE: Pictures from objects (Thanks to Alan Boyle's cosmic log)
http://www.rocketshoppe.com/images/scoop_2.jpg (Scaled still under negotiations)

Armadillo Aerospace: 'Rocket Man' Preparing Space Blast
chabot imageChallenges come in all sizes. For one North Texas man and the team he leads, the challenge is as big as space.
John Carmack, an entrepreneur who built his reputation and fortune in the computer industry, heads a group of seven volunteers who share the dream of space flight. The team, called Armadillo Aerospace, work two days a week in a North Texas warehouse to complete construction of a rocket ship they call Black Armadillo.
They hope to be the first private organization to launch a spacecraft twice within two weeks. Carmack believes Armadillo Aerospace is getting close.
"We will definitely be flying vehicles this year, flying them fast and doing some significant test flights," Carmack said.
It's not exactly NASA, but Carmack said he and the team are making strides. "We pick up the skills we need as we go," he said. "Rocket science is basically plumbing with the volume turned up a whole lot."
Armadillo Aerospace hopes to win a national prize, sponsored by The X-Prize Foundation, of St. Louis, of $10 million.
Team member Russ Blink will pilot Black Armadillo during its first manned test flight. He was chosen for the task because he possesses special attributes. Read More

Monday, May 24, 2004

chabot imageX-Prize.com reports: Los Angeles, CA (May 21, 2004) People have been asking us about X PRIZE clothing for years. It's final here! A range of clothing items suitable for your whole family is available. More items will come online in the weeks ahead, so visit often. Proceeds from merchandise sales will help keep our dreams in flight. Visit our online store here to browse and select your purchase.

Space.com: Spaceport to Rise in California's Mojave Desert
chabot imageA desert airdrome in Mojave, California is on the final glide path to getting government approval for becoming an inland gateway to space.
The Federal Aviation Administration's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) is expected next month to certify that the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center as a non-federal spaceport to handle horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft.
As such, Mojave Airport can offer a range of launch and landing services making it a hub for high-flying craft intended to help spark public space travel. The Mojave Airport is located approximately 100 miles north of Los Angeles, in southeastern Kern County, along the western edge of the Mojave Desert.
The site is already home port for several enterprising suborbital space projects.
Most notably is Scaled Composites, builder and operator of the White Knight/SpaceShipOne piloted vehicles. XCOR Aerospace is also based at the Mojave Airport, engaged in testing its piloted EZ-rocket as part of an expansive reusable rocket engine and rocket-powered vehicle program. Other firms, such as Orbital Sciences Corporation and Interorbital Systems, are part of the space scene at Mojave Airport.
The "up-and-going" commercial space launch market is not only spawning new startup firms and fostering inventive technology. Deep-pocketed venture capitalists, such as Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, find themselves frequenting the Mojave Airport. Read More

Armadillo Aerospace News: Bent jet vanes, Liquid catalyst tests
chabot imageWe pulled the engine back off the vehicle to rectify our error of leaving the paper towel plug in the valve top last week. Unfortunately, only half of it was left above the valves, and there were little pieces visible in the spreading plate holes. We decided to go ahead and cut the top plate off so we could clean everything out well, which turned out to be absolutely mandatory, because there were shreds of towel in every single spreading plate hole.
After cleaning everything out, we welded the engine back together and reassembled the engine on the vehicle. We added an extra layer of Teflon sealant around the double O-ring seal between the engine valves and the tank manway. This was the thing we were most worried about sealing, because they are really tiny 1/16” thick O-rings, but it turned out to work perfectly. We tightened up the fittings on the drain valve and pressure gauge, so the plumbing is now leak free except for a tiny drip on the loading connector. Unfortunately, there is a slight leak past both the master cutoff valve and the throttle valve, so propellant trickles into the engine when the tank is pressurized. This will eventually auto-ignite and start heating the engine, which is good from a warmup standpoint, but we think this is also how we cook the cold packs, by having such a low flow rate that actual burning can take place above the flameholder. We usually get these leaks after we drill vent holes in the ball valves, either due to a metal chip or a burr scuffing the seats. I have rebuild kits on the way, but it will be a hassle to dismount everything. Read More

Friday, May 21, 2004

manchesteronline.co.uk: Spaceman set to lose $10m race
chabot imageROCKETMAN Steve Bennett looks set to lose his race to win the $10m X-Prize.
For the last seven years, the Hyde scientist has been a front-runner in the international contest to launch the first privately-funded manned mission into space.
But a rival American enthusiast is poised to streak past his Starchaser project and snatch away the prize with a mission planned for next month.
Millionaire Burt Rutan has already sent his SpaceShipOne craft to a height of 64km and he plans to reach for the 100km target within weeks.
Mr Bennett today conceded that his Starchaser team is now likely to be beaten to the $10m prize, saying he was simply unable to compete with his better-funded rival.He said: "Obviously, this is disappointing because everyone at Starchaser has been working hard on this for seven years. Burt Rutan is ahead of the competition, but we are waiting to see just how far ahead he is. I think we are running in second place. We are 60 per cent there he is 90 per cent."
"Everyone here is quite frustrated because we are moving ahead quite slowly. But if we had the money we could go out and we could win this." Read More

xprizeblog.com: Happy Birthday Peter (May 20)
chabot imagexprizeblog.com; reports that it was yesterday Peter Diamandis (Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation and X prize founder) his birthday (May 20).
xprizeblog.com wrote: After a few minutes of madly swimming around ike sea chickens with our heads cut off, we decided that it was okay to just give Peter, President and Founder of X PRIZE, Zero G and the International Space University, a nice card and a raspberry cake for his birthday. That was thanks to Angel and Elke. Left to our own devices, we probably would have given him... uh... well, we probably would have forgotten it was his birthday. Angel and Elke are the real brains behind X PRIZE, you see.
Anyway - we had a great time at his Birthday party at a cool restauraunt in Venice. Not Italy, we aren't that worldly. Even Buck showed up. Buck is an Intern at the Space Generation Foundation (where I'm apparently a Director, under Loretta) but he also OWNS his own law firm. Talk about being over-qualified for an internship.
So we sat there for a while, while David Knight spun funny tales about, well... I was more interested in Descher's attempts to Peter into the Iron Chef.
And now? The Canucks and the Scotsman are enjoying the end of the day over a beer and The Tragically Hip's "You are ahead by a century". Cause we certainly will be.
Read More at: http://www.xprizeblog.com/archives/000122.html

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Space.com: Data From Recent Test Flight of Private Spacecraft Released
chabot imageSpace.com: The May 13th flight of the privately-financed SpaceShipOne has verified that the craft and its operators are close to attempting suborbital flight. Their goal: Two consecutive missions, two weeks apart, aimed at winning the Ansari X Prize purse.
SpaceShipOne has undergone a series of 14 confidence-building missions -- air toted, gliding, and powered flights -- much to the satisfaction of SpaceShipOne’s builder, Scaled Composites of Mojave, California.
Another test hop is on the books, before trying to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition, according to sources close to the project.
The quest by Scaled Composites to demonstrate non-government piloted space flight operations is led by aerospace innovator, Burt Rutan, who heads the company. Financial backer of the space plane project is Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and chief executive officer of Vulcan Inc.
The Ansari X Prize money is to be awarded to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers or some 330,000 feet), then return safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks. Read More

Scaled.com posted new pictures on their website:
SpaceShipOne in feather above 200,000 ft on flight 14P. San Diego is at left, Santa Barbara is under the left wing and Edwards Air Force Base is at right/center.
View from back seat at apogee, flight 14P. Note bright sun cast on interior while black sky is seen out top, right and forward windows.
View looking aft at 150kft in vertical, mach 2 climb after burnout, flight 14P. Edwards AFB is at low/center and the Air Force rocket test site is in center.
Just after landing on flight 14P. Pilot Mike Melvill describing the experience while Burt and Crew chief Steve Losey admire. Note color stripes on leading edge TPS to measure aerodynamic heating.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Starchaser starts production of it’s 15 tonne rocket engine
chabot imageStarchaser Industries announce the start of production of their CHURCHILL Mk 3 liquid propellant rocket engine. The new engine is designed to deliver some 15 tonnes of usable thrust for a burn time of up to 70 seconds. Two such engines will be used to power the STARCHASER 5 Reusable Launch Vehicle on its sub-orbital journey into space.
Starchaser’s propulsion development programme has followed a structured and incremental approach. The first CHURCHILL rocket engine, the Mk 1, underwent an extensive series of tests including 5 static firings and produced the specified 0.5 tonnes of thrust. The Mk 1 provided validated data from which to build the larger CHURCHILL Mk 2 rocket engine.
The Mk 2 followed a similar series of 7 static test firings which culminated in a long duration burn of 53 seconds. This engine performed perfectly and proved the reusability of the engine. The Mk 2 developed 3-tonnes of thrust and provided crucial data for the design of the Mk 3 rocket engine.
The CHURCHILL Mk 3 rocket engine builds upon the extensive experience gained from the Mk 1 and Mk 2 engines and proves the validity of Starchaser’s step-by-step approach to rocket engine development. All three engines are powered using the same liquid oxygen / kerosene bi-propellant combination that took Apollo to the moon. Read More

chabot imageStarchaser: We have recently received the main hydrogen peroxide fuel tank. The tank was very easily integrated into the airframe and the LES is now looking more like the finished design.
The plumbing of the valves and controls is continuing. Once the flow system has been completed we need only to build the catalyst reaction chamber and nozzles. The exact design of these will depend on results from the test thruster.
The test thruster for the LES system has finished its first round of tests and we are now developing a more active catalyst and are working on purification and distillation of the fuel so we can achieve or target results. More Info

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Alan Boyle: No Ansari X Prize flights planned until July 17 at the earliest.
chabot imageAlan Boyle's cosmic log reports: The X Prize Foundation confirmed today that it would give 60-day notice of any prize attempt (even though the official rules talk about a 30-day period). That means there are no Ansari X Prize flights planned until July 17 at the earliest. That also means I totally blew my Fourth of July prediction: I had read too much into the foundation's plan for a May 5 announcement, which turned out to be about the Ansari family's backing for the $10 million purse.
Of course, the SpaceShipOne team can fly its plane anytime it wants to — say, for a 100-kilometer test flight that wouldn't count toward the Ansari X Prize. But the team appears to be gearing up for a media splash befitting what could be SpaceShipOne's first official spaceflight.

SubOrbital Day Info
transterrestrial.com posted a few intresting articles related to SubOrbital Day
More info: http://www.suborbitalinstitute.org/

Spaceship One - a Historical Perspective
chabot imageSpaceship One has just reached the 60,000 metre mark. 212,000 ft, for those in the USA, about 6 times the altitude that Intercontinental jets fly at.
On August 22, 1963, the X-15, also a manned aerospace craft, was launched from a B-52 bomber, reached 354,000 ft. That's over 40 years ago. So what's the big deal?
The answer is that it's a relatively small firm that's doing it; They didn't just build the aerospacecraft, they built the launch platform as well; And they intend to fly just as high as the X-15, and do so twice within three weeks, using the same vehicle. Oh yes, it also carries passengers.
I've done a little research on the history of air-launched rocket programs... Read More

Monday, May 17, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Small vehicle work, Big vehicle work
chabot imageWe worked late on Saturday and I spent Sunday at the Wired NextFest event, so this is just a quick update.
We cut open the small vehicle motor to replace the hot catalyst pack. The bottom retaining plate had bowed down a fair amount, but there wasn’t anything burned inside. Activity was down, so we replaced it with completely fresh material. We used a thicker retaining plate with a deeper weld, 600 grams of rings, and welded the top retainer in place under 2000 psi gauge (4000 pounds) pressure.
It turned out that this didn’t help the engine, so we cut the top off to remove the cold pack monoliths. The top one was ok, but the second monolith had some burned sections, and had very little catalytic activity. This almost certainly happens during the low flows at warm up. We have selected the two best monoliths out of our used sets (we have fresh 7”, but no more fresh 5.5”) to rebuild the engine with.
We added a little more weight to the small frame to balance it more precisely. Dry weight is around 420 pounds now.
The software is all complete and simulated for doing our boosted hops, which we hope to test next weekend at our remote site. Read More

Space Transport Corp
chabot imageSpace Transport Corp., reports that it launched a three-stage sounding rocket Thursday from its test site on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula. Team member Phillip Storm said the rocket apparently went higher than 150,000 feet — but couldn't be found afterward.
"The GPS was having some difficulties on the way down, which is our prime method of finding the payload," he told MSNBC.com in an e-mail update. "We'll need to launch another one shortly. The main thing is the microcontroller problem has been solved, and all engines lit as they should."
The small-scale rockets are being used for tests leading up to what they hope will be the piloted launch of a larger rocket later this year. News Source

Saturday, May 15, 2004

da Vinci Project and Kindersley Article
chabot imageIn the blink of an eye, a model rocket nearly two metres long is blazing toward the endless prairie sky on the outskirts of the town of Kindersley, off Highway 7 between Saskatoon and Calgary. Up, up, up it goes until the "Mean Machine'' is reduced to a speck 300 metres overhead.
Nathen is still clutching the launcher, beaming through the smoky haze left behind by the solid-fuel Estes D12-7 rocket engine. "The bigger engines are better," beams the 12-year-old boy. "They leave a big cloud!"
And they won't get much bigger than the one coming this summer. Just a little east of Petrowsky's rural home, not far from where seven wild antelope were resting in the field earlier this day, a Toronto man will attempt a feat that could transform this Saskatchewan town's life — perhaps even your own — forever.
Brian Feeney of the da Vinci Project will try to reach space in a privately built, reusable vehicle. It's part of a global competition, the Ansari X Prize, intended to kick-start space tourism and inspire a new generation of space dreamers.
On an (as yet) unannounced morning this summer, the visionary 45-year-old will climb into the rocket-powered "Wild Fire" capsule he helped design. That capsule will be tethered to a reusable helium balloon and lifted into thin air to 24,400 metres. Then the fun really begins.
At the optimum moment, the tether will be released and the rocket engine ignited. Then, in a bone-rattling 75 seconds, Feeney will blast heavenward to an altitude of 100 kilometres — high enough to be officially considered an astronaut (and fulfill one of several X Prize requirements). God willing — certainly Feeney is — Canada's newest astronaut will safely touch down in the Eston-Elrose area, about 60 kilometres away. Read More - An other da Vinci Project Article

Friday, May 14, 2004

Scaled Composites: More about SpaceShipOne (+Video)
chabot imageThe daily press posted a video from the latest spaceshipone flight:
Including a drawing of the xprize flight: http://www.dailypress.com/la-051404xprize-g,0,4121247.graphic
More info: http://www.dailypress.com/dp-rocket,0,5928406.story

Armadillo Aerospace: John Carmack talks about jet vanes and vehicle development costs
chabot imagehobbyspace.com wrote on this page: John Carmack talks about jet vanes and vehicle development costs in these postings at sci.space.policy: Jet Vanes - sci.space.policy - May.13.04 * Costs - sci.space.policy - May.13.04 ...

Sunday evening we can expect a new Armadillo Aerospace news update, we'll post it directly on our xprize space race news blog, stay tuned.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Scaled Composites: SpaceShipOne Flight Test data
chabot imageFlight 56L / 14P
Date: 13 May 04 Flight Time: 1.5 hour / 20 min 44sec
White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Stinemetze SpaceShipOne Pilot: Melvill
High Chase Alpha Jet Crew: Van der Schueren / Johnson Low Chase-Duchess Pilot: Siebold / Moore
The third powered flight of SpaceShipOne. 55 seconds motor burn time. Handling qualities during boost and performance verification. Reaction control system use for reorientation to entry attitude. Supersonic feather stability and control.
Launch conditions were 46,000 feet and 120 knots. Motor light off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted smoothly to 150,000 feet and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee of 211,400 feet. During a portion of the boost, the flight director display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather experiencing 1.9M and 3.5G’s. Feather oscillations were actively damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at 55,000 feet. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and uneventful landing made to Mojave.

Space.com: Private Rocket SpaceShipOne Makes Third Rocket-Powered Flight
chabot imageSpace.com: Chalk up another booming flight of the privately-backed SpaceShipOne, the piloted rocket plane designed to soar to the edge of space and glide to a runway landing.
With pilot Mike Melvill at the controls -- following release from the White Knight turbojet-powered launch aircraft high above the Mojave, California desert -- SpaceShipOne punched through the sky today boosted by a hybrid propellant rocket motor. According to sources who witnessed the flight, SpaceShipOne appears to have reached an altitude of a little over 200,000 feet.
Scaled Composites of Mojave is the builder of SpaceShipOne, an effort led by aviation innovator, Burt Rutan. The financial backer of the project is Microsoft mogul, Paul Allen.
Today's flight builds upon a progression of 13 shakeout tests, mostly un-powered drop glides along with two engine-thrusting runs. The White Knight took off with SpaceShipOne at around 10:30 a.m. EDT today with the rocket plane landing an the ground a little after 12 noon.
SpaceShipOne's builders are expected to release specific flight data regarding today's test flight as soon as they analyze the mission.
SpaceShipOne's first powered mission took place on December 17, 2003, with the hybrid motor firing for 15 seconds. A second powered flight occurred on April 8th of this year. In that trek, the motor burned for 40 seconds. A major contractor for the hybrid motor used in the rocket plane is SpaceDev of Poway, California.
Routine recording of multiple video streams on board White Knight and on SpaceShipOne are expected to help in pilot and engineering evaluation of the flight.
Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation of Pasadena, California provides the critical camera gear. They are also supplier of the RocketCam™ line of onboard video systems used on rockets, spacecraft and other remote platforms. Read More

Scaled Composites: SpaceShipOne team completed another successful test
chabot imageThis morning, the SpaceShipOne team completed another successful test of key systems on the SpaceShipOne reusable launch vehicle (RLV) and its carrier aircraft, White Knight. This flight marks an additional milestone for Paul G. Allen, Burt Rutan and the innovative aerospace design team in their ongoing efforts to complete the first non-government manned space flight. The test is part of Scaled Composites’ Tier One program, funded by Allen, Microsoft co-founder and CEO of Vulcan Inc.
The SpaceShipOne team will announce the results of this test flight once it has completed an analysis of the data. Look for this information under the Test Updates tab on the scaled website. Information on any future flights will also be provided on the web site, www.scaled.com. We encourage you to check this page frequently for updates.

Florida Panel Holding On To Private Space Competition
chabot imageThe Associated Press - The Florida Space Authority is ready to step back into the race to host the first privately funded manned space flight if New Mexico's winning plan falters, officials said Wednesday.
The St. Louis-based X Prize Foundation this week accepted a $9 million offer from New Mexico that includes $7 million to build launch facilities and $2 million to promote the X Prize Cup. Florida had offered existing state-leased launch complexes at Cape Canaveral but no cash.
``I can't imagine they can replicate some of the things we have for $7 million,'' said Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, who chairs the Space Authority's Board of Supervisors, at the panel's quarterly meeting in Pensacola.
The X Prize Foundation is offering a $10 million prize to the first person or company to launch a manned craft capable of carrying at least three people to 62.5 miles above the Earth, considered the edge of space, twice within two weeks. The prize is being offered to help create a space tourism industry.
Board members urged the authority's executive director, former astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Winston Scott, to keep breathing down the necks of X Prize Foundation leaders.
``This may come back,'' said board member Silas Baker, of Rockledge, a retired Atlas program manager for Lockheed Martin. ``They may find they cannot satisfy the requirements.''
Tracy Hegler, the authority's spaceport transportation planning manager, told the board Florida's inability to match the $2 million in promotional money was the key reason why it lost the bid. California and Oklahoma also made proposals.
Scott said an underlying factor may have been worries about cumbersome range procedures and high costs to use launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center. He said the authority is working to resolve those issues and will continue efforts to attract commercial spacecraft developers to Florida.
Losing the X Prize bid may not discourage potential space tourism companies from locating in the state, said Matthew Hegler, the authority's business development manager.
He said officials with a couple companies told him they are focused on space tourism regardless of what happens with the X Prize and believe the New Mexico launch site will benefit them by reducing the competition for Florida's launch sites.
Jennings said Florida's main advantage is that its facilities are ready now. ``No waiting,'' she said.
You can vote on the xprize forum, in this post or post a reply to share your personal opinion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Official XPrize community discussion forums, moderators added.
chabot imageFrom today, the official XPrize community discussion forums have moderators.
The online xprize community keeps growing day by day, on this moment there're over 200 registrated users and over 2500 articles.
There was real need for moderation after cheater, who got later banned by the administrator, also Franklin started to annoy other users with his ideas.
The moderators are Matthew I. (The Legionnaire) and myself Sigurd De Keyser (Sigurd)
If you're interested to learn more about the xprize forums, you can registrate over here or just read the forums over here, it's all a free xprize service and everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

X-Prize.org: Governor Richardson Announces New Mexico Wins Bid to Host X PRIZE CUP
chabot imageNew Mexico establishes itself as premier inland spaceport
SANTA FE, NM—Governor Richardson today announced that New Mexico has officially won its bid to host the X PRIZE CUP, an international space exhibition destined to energize the state’s economy through tourism, global public interest and significant job growth.
“By prevailing over Florida, California, and Oklahoma in the competition to host this landmark event, New Mexico has emphatically established itself as a worldwide leader in space commercialization,” said Governor Bill Richardson.
Working with the Legislature, Governor Richardson committed 9-million dollars in capital money to this project. Of that $4 million dollars will be used to help develop the infrastructure – the launch and landing facilities needed for this competition - and $5 million dollars will pay for engineering, planning and design, operations and marketing expenses for the creation of the X PRIZE CUP and to develop our inland spaceport near Las Cruces.
An X PRIZE CUP exhibition is planned for the summer of 2005 and the competition is expected to begin in the summer of 2006.
“The X PRIZE CUP is coming to New Mexico because of the tremendous collaborative support we have received from the Governor, New Mexico legislature, New Mexico Office of Space Commercialization and White Sands Missile Range,” said Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation.
The X PRIZE Foundation, originator of the current $10 million Ansari X PRIZE competition, has developed plans for a public event showcasing the capabilities of Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs) through competitive spacecraft races now set to launch from the Southwest Regional Spaceport in New Mexico. X PRIZE class vehicles will compete for cash prizes in an annual race that is intended to be in the spirit of CHAMP CAR and the America’s CUP.
“Winning the competition for hosting the X PRIZE CUP firmly secures New Mexico’s place as the world leader for a commercially viable inland spaceport. The X Prize CUP will also provide New Mexico with a steady stream of national and international media opportunities and will help shape our image as a cutting-edge state,” said Rick Homans, Secretary New Mexico Economic Development Department.
With the selection of New Mexico as the launch site for the X PRIZE CUP, New Mexico is poised to reap a multitude of economic benefits. From the restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops to the development of aerospace-related industries, the possibilities for economic development in southern New Mexico are endless. Being selected as the launch site will accelerate the process of New Mexico becoming the country’s first licensed inland spaceport, which will enable the state to move forward rapidly in its quest to secure its rightful place in the space-related business market.
“Teams and their fans from around the world will gather annually in New Mexico to participate in the competition for the X PRIZE CUP. This event will underpin the evolution of a new era in space, unleashing new developments in space planes, establishing new markets and operational concepts for spaceports, and enabling the public to become part of the visionary efforts to open the space frontier,” said Peter Mitchell, Director of the Office of Space Commercialization.
As a result of the cooperation of White Sands Missile Range with the State of New Mexico, the initial launch for the X PRIZE CUP may be held at White Sands Missile Range. Development of facility infrastructure at Upham, near Las Cruces, New Mexico, home of the Southwest Regional Spaceport, will progress simultaneously. According to Brigadier General Robert J. Reese, “White Sands Missile Range has a long-standing agreement with the State of New Mexico and we are proud to continue that partnership.”
Southern New Mexico’s combination of low population density, controlled air space, excellent launch trajectories, and more than 4,000 foot elevation provide all the natural elements needed to establish a permanent and lucrative spaceport. Combine these naturally occurring components with the vision of community and political leaders throughout the state, and role of New Mexico as a leader in the space industry is assured. X-Prize.org Word Document File

Space.com: Canadian Arrow Team Moves Forward in Human-Rating Rocket
chabot imageSpace.com made a more detailed news release related to an older Canadian Arrow Press Release.
In the quest to build and fly suborbital passenger spaceships, the Canadian Arrow is ready to roar. A series of unpiloted validation tests of rocket systems are now slated for this summer.
The testing is scheduled to take place over a period of four months beginning in August. According to Canadian Arrow team leader, Geoff Sheerin of London Ontario, Canada, the rocket's launch pad abort and escape systems are to be evaluated first.
"This testing will be essential before any manned launches are attempted," the group announced in a press statement. A set of solid rocket motors mounted in the nosecone section are to be ignited, pulling the nosecone and crew cabin off the booster.
Purpose of the shakeout is to verify that rocket abort hardware is reliable enough for human-rating the booster.
The rocket's escape system features eight powerful solid rocket engines that burn for 5 seconds, mounted in the rocket’s nose cone. The crew cabin, or space capsule, is built to carry three Canadian Arrow astronauts. Read More

New Mexico to host manned spaceflight race
chabot imageNew Mexico has been selected to host a competition to achieve the first privately funded manned spaceflight, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Monday.
The governor said the state won over Florida, California and Oklahoma to host the X Prize Cup.
The X-Prize contest calls for launching a manned craft to 62.5 miles above the Earth, which is generally considered the edge of space, twice within two weeks. The craft must be able to carry three people.
The X Prize competition will give $10 million to the first company or person to successfully launch the craft.
The initial launch of the contest, the next stage after the xprize is won, will be held at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.
Organizers of the X Prize have said teams could attempt the space trip as early as this summer. Twenty-seven teams are expected to pursue the prize, and many have conducted test launches.
Lawmakers allocated $9 million during the last legislative session to host the X Prize Cup and develop the state's inland spaceport.
The X Foundation, a St. Louis-based group created to promote the development of private, reusable launch vehicles, is supported by donors including Dennis Tito, an American who spent $20 million to fly in a Russian craft as the first space tourist, and Erik Lindbergh, a pilot and grandson of Charles Lindbergh.
The group's mission is to build what they believe is a $20 billion market for private citizens to travel to space. They liken the prize to those offered early in the 20th century that helped propel the aviation industry.

Note; the Space.com article mixes up the diffrence between the x-prize and x-prize cup, the text above has been modified with the right information.
The [X-Prize] contest calls for launching a manned craft to 62.5 miles above the Earth, which is generally considered the edge of space, twice within two weeks, while the X-Prize cup has manny more challanges and not the need to fly twice within a 2 weeks time frame.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Position hold, big jet vanes
chabot imageWe did several more flight tests to track down the GPS loss-of-lock issue. We replaced the internal 802.11b antenna, which was very close to the GPS antenna, with an external one several feet removed, but that had no impact. We actually moved the GPS antenna off the vehicle to a point ten feet up the tether to the lift, and it still lost lock almost immediately after liftoff, so we conclude it has nothing to do with the antenna. We then took the GPS circuit board off of its mounting standoffs and wrapped it in foam and loosely wire tied it down. We made two perfect flights in a row with this arrangement, so it seems conclusive that some kind of vibration is hurting the RF processing on the board itself.
We then tried an auto-hover with the GPS, and it worked fine. The vehicle was bouncing up and down a lot in place, because the control authority was a lot higher than the responsiveness of the 10 hz GPS update, but it worked properly.
I had another theory on the GPS problems that sounded plausible: while the entire electronics board is mounted on a foam isolation ring that dampens any vibrations from the frame, it is mounted right above the engine, and the base is directly exposed to the ground reflections from the engine. Acoustic vibrations might be getting transmitted directly to the board. We remounted the GPS on the standoffs and glued a foam pad on the bottom of the electronics honeycomb and did more tests. This seemed to be better, as I was able to get a full flight off, but it still had a cutoff once right as it was leaving the ground, so we went back to the loose mounting of the GPS. I am fairly appalled that this $8000 GPS system intended for solid fueled missile applications is this sensitive to vibrations. It sounds like a cracked trace on the board, but I’m not sure if I want to send it back to Thales for another $500 service check that will take two weeks and probably result in them just flashing the bios again and saying it is fine. Read More

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Canadian Arrow announces that test flights will start this summer
chabot imageCanadian Arrow is pleased to announce that it will begin unmanned test flights of its rocket this summer. The flights, taking place over a period of four months beginning in August, will test the Arrow’s launch pad abort system and escape systems. This testing will be essential before any manned launches are attempted. The Arrow is currently completing arrangements for the tests at an Ontario location, which will be announced at a future date.
The tests will include:
· A launch pad abort test, including testing of the powerful solid rockets that pull the crew cabin to safety in the event of problems while the rocket is on the pad.
· Separation of the nose cone from the crew cabin.
· Deployment of parachutes for safe recovery of the nose cone and crew cabin.
· Testing of aerodynamics to ensure the rocket is able to reach the correct altitude and does not display any flight characteristics that are not normal to flight.
· A mach 1 abort and high altitude abort (application for permission to fly currently being processed)
Specifications of escape system:
· Eight 1,200 lb thrust solid rocket engines that burn for 5 seconds, mounted in a 22-ft tall nose cone
· Two main parachutes 64 ft in diameter
· Onboard computer to record data including acceleration, vibration, pitch, yaw and roll of the rocket.
· Onboard video camera aimed out the same window as the astronauts will use. Video will be available to the media after the flight.
· Vehicle will weigh 2,500lbs at liftoff.
· Crew cabin (space capsule) designed to carry three astronauts 65 inches in diameter and 6 ft tall.

The Canadian Arrow will also fly its first XPOD experiment, produced by students at the Canadian Arrow Science Club at John Dearness School in London. The flight will test the durability of the XPOD. Canadian Arrow is a London-built rocket, competing for the $10 million (US) X PRIZE, which will go to the first team that can launch a passenger space vehicle 100 kilometres into space, land safely and repeat the feat within two weeks.
Media may download graphics at: www.canadianarrow.com/testlaunch.htm

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Armadillo expects to fly the big vehicle this Saturday.
chabot imageWe are making great progress on the big jet vane setup, so we should be flying that [big vehicle] next Saturday for another data point. More Info
Note; To get no confusion, as most of you will know, this is not an xprize 100km attempt, nor a real flight, but simply a test.
Index page of messages:

How to Create a Lunar Klondike
Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote: A few weeks ago, I wrote about the role of the X-Prize in promoting private space efforts, and noted that those efforts were likely to be cleverer, and cheaper, than government programs have been. Now there's a prediction that the X-Prize will be won by the end of the summer.
In addition, there's new legislation that will facilitate private efforts (including those of hobbyists) to pioneer new space technologies. The writer Rand Simberg has a roundup of discussion on that topic.
This is all good news, and I strongly suspect that the settlement of outer space will ultimately happen -- as the settlement of the Americas did -- as much by the initiative of individuals and small groups as by big government programs. (Whether it was the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, or the proto-Indians who crossed over the Bering land bridge, neither got here via Big Government efforts.) Read More

chabot imageEntrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari, today announced a multimillion dollar contribution to the X PRIZE Foundation which runs an international competition among private spaceships designed to fly the general public into space. On this day, the 43rd anniversary of astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight into space, the X PRIZE competition is being renamed the ANSARI X PRIZE Competition to reflect the newly-established title sponsorship. The ANSARI X PRIZE is modeled after the $25,000 Orteig Prize won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 for his historic flight from New York to Paris.
The ANSARI X PRIZE will award $10 million to the first private organization to build and fly a ship that can carry three passengers 100 km (62 miles) into space, return safely to Earth and repeat the launch with the same ship within two weeks. Both flights must be completed by January 1st, 2005. The competition has been endorsed by leading space and aviation organizations around the world and includes the vision to jump-start the commercialization of space travel and industry the same way that Orteig Prize opened today's commercial airways.
Space exploration has always been a childhood dream for both Anousheh and brother-in-law Amir, who were born in Iran. "As a child I looked at the stars and dreamed of being able to travel into space," said Anousheh, an avid space enthusiast. "As an adult, I understand that the only way this dream will become a reality is with the participation of private industry and the creative passion of smart entrepreneurs. The ANSARI X PRIZE provides the perfect vehicle to ignite the imagination and passion of fellow entrepreneurs, giving them and their courageous pilots a platform for success." Read More

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Space Transports Corp.: Rocketeers plan to launch ninth test rocket around mid-month
chabot imageSpace Transports Corp., competing to launch a manned suborbital tourism spacecraft off the North Olympic Peninsula coast by year's end, is scheduled to launch a ninth test rocket in about a week, a company representative said Monday.
Eric Meier, Space Transport vice president, said a launch last Friday was only unsuccessful because the 10-foot-tall rocket's third stage failed to fire on time.
Company president Phillip Storm, however, was quick to say the launch was a positive learning experience that has led to a problem solved.
Storm and Meier are competing for the $10 million X Prize, and face several other entrants from a across the nation.
Using data relayed back by the rocket's modem, the problem was found and will be corrected for the next test launch, the Space Transport team's ninth attempt.
The small-scale rocket tests have helped Space Transport perfect its electronics system.
The electronic glitch Friday morning turned out to be a timer that reset the rocket engine's ignition system for the third stage. Read More

Monday, May 03, 2004

Armadillo Aerospace News: Jet vanes win
chabot imageOn the Tuesday before Space Access we tried hard to get a perfect hover of the big vehicle in before we left, but we ran into a couple problems. I replaced the A/D board, but I had a jumper misconfigured, resulting in the thermocouple signals being clamped off early, and fixing an error that I had introduced the previous week while setting up the jet vane code path had resulted in the throttle positions being off by about 13% (which was why the vehicle was almost hovering at 25% throttle last week – it was actually 38% throttle). The combination of these two factors along with the normal issues resulted in us not getting all four engines warmed up properly for a liftoff.
This Tuesday, I get both of those problems corrected, but we also finished up assembly and wiring of the jet vane test vehicle. We have a nice insulated box made of phenolic / nomex honeycomb covered in fastblock insulation surrounding the vanes and protecting the actuators and wiring. We had some intermittent problems with the throttle valve stalling partway open, so we didn’t tank it up to a liftoff pressure, but we did hang it from the lift and let it tilt itself side to side under its own control. I boosted the roll control gain a lot on the second test to let it keep itself from twisting under the tether. Read More

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Benefactor inspired by Lindbergh's story
Peter Diamandis' inspiration for a $10 million purse to spur private space travel began with Charles Lindbergh.
Diamandis wanted to travel into space since growing up in the days of the Apollo moon program, but knew the odds of becoming a NASA astronaut were long.
"I realized that if I was lucky to be selected, which is a one in 1,000 chance, you would fly once or twice in your career," Diamandis said. "I wanted to fly regularly in space."
So Diamandis, who grew up to earn aeronautical engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, sought a way to inspire the development of technologies that would make space travel available to private citizens.
It was while reading about Charles Lindbergh's historic 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic that Diamandis came up with the idea for the X Prize, a $10 million purse for the first privately financed, privately built and reusable spacecraft. Read More
Same author, diffrent story: http://www.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,200~20954~2121529,00.html

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