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Monday, June 14, 2004
TEAM MICRO-SPACE SUCCESSFULLY TESTS PROPULSION MODULES
Micro-Space, a competitor for the ANSARI X PRIZE, "completed successful test flights of three of our liquid fueled propulsion modules," according to a June 6 press release. "High sustained thrust was achieved in these flights. Sufficient thrust is now being generated to permit manned flight with clustering, although somewhat greater thrust is optimum for X PRIZE efforts," noted Team Leader Richard Speck
Micro-Space Press Release (June 6, 2004) - Micro-Space recently completed successful test flights of three of our liquid fueled propulsion modules. This brings to ten the number of test flights of this system. High sustained thrust was achieved in these flights. Sufficient thrust is now being generated to permit manned flight with clustering, although somewhat greater thrust is optimum for XPRIZE efforts. Our very active flight test program has now resolved the propulsion problems which are missed in static testing. Telemetry and tracking are operational, yet undergoing improvement. Our program, like Mercury and Apollo, relies on unmanned flights to perfect the spacecraft systems. Electronic data and high resolution imagery are invaluable to diagnose problems and engineer solutions. Micro-Space is bringing online a "Dynamic Imaging Theodolite" (DIT) to upgrade capture of high altitude imagery. The "DIT" is a Spectron Engineering "DASH" robotic imaging theodolite (used for aerospace display analysis) upgraded for target tracking. This unit can resolve a one foot object at twenty miles, and detect it at orbital altitude. More than ten degrees per second of motion is available to track an object, with position resolution to a few seconds of arc. A pair of systems can provide stereoscopic images and 3D analysis. The imaging module can capture over 1000 images per second for slow motion video playback, and provides photometrically calibrated picture elements for analysis. Our current flights underscored the problem of the "Powered Gravity Turn", which challenges all sustained thrust rockets. Unlike short burn, solid motor rockets - which sometimes exhibit straight flight paths - the sustained thrust causes a rocket to accelerate away from vertical, with an exponential divergence. To optimize air drag, and avoid crushing 20 gravity acceleration, the sustained thrust is necessary. This problem historically forced Robert Goddard and Wernher Von Braun to incorporate guidance hardware into their early flight systems. Now it is our flight test priority. Guidance systems, some of which we flew successfully ten years ago, will now be incorporated into our test systems. The "DIT" high resolution imaging system will be invaluable for system development. Combined with our high thrust motors, we will soon achieve extreme altitude flights.
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