Thursday, November 02, 2006

The background and the commitment.

I've always had the feeling that the "average" life
was somewhat of a waste. I've always had big dreams.
One of my earlier unfinshed projects can be found
here: Solar Glider
This was an insanely difficult project that consumed 5 years of my life.
As you can see on the web page I have a working design, but I
fell short of my record setting goal.

About the time I last flew the solar splinter I wandered into the
flowmetrics shop ( and discovered the SDSU rocket project.
Here were a bunch of inexperienced students building aliquid fuel rocket.
I was impressed, but on closer inspection it did not seem to look that hard.

So for the next two years I provided them electronics when they launched
and spent a lot of time talking to the wizards at flometrics.
I also bought every book on rocket motor propulsion design I could find
and this has been my bedtime reading for the last two years.

By reading, studying and watching others (principally armadillo) I've come to
believe that a normal humans with moderate funding can do significant
rocketry. As that realization slowly sinks in, I've equipped my shop
with what I think is necessary to actually build rockets. CNC lathe, Mill, and good quality welding equipment. As this realization slowly comes to be I also start searching for a worthy

My inital thought was to do ameateur sputnik. Build a rocket in a garage that can reach orbit. Not with any payload, just a 100 gram tranmitter that circles the globe and
transmitts "Normal mortals can reach space". This is a very hard goal it has significant technical
and significat regulatory issues. I also believe that done as an ameteur project it would take about 1M$. Too hard, too much $ and too lofty.

As I'm in the midst scheming how to do this, I hear about the Nasa/Xprize lunar lander challenge. It looks like the prefect project.
It's hard, but not impossible, the regulatory burden exists, but it is not insurmountable.

So this has become my quest. My guess is that it will take $100K to build a working vehicle that can do the task. I think it will also take another 50 to 100K to prepare for and campaign
the vehicle at the xprize cup. If I live frugally for the next year I can spend this much without
causing any permant financial hardship. the whole family is now on a budget.
I have done things like cancel my dish network subscription, if I'm going to do this I have no time for TV.

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