My next rocket project is to finish up some test stand work for a paying customer I can’t talk about.
As for the LLC projects :
I’ve been exploring a number of catalyst options for peroxide. I’m looking at silver plated nickel screens, and commercial catalysts from several different vendors. These include the commercial catalysts from CPILINK that John Carmack was kind enough to send me. If that catalyst is still commercially available then its high on my list. All of the parts and pieces to build an electrically pumped biprop peroxide test have been ordered. I have all the parts on hand to both convert the 90 Second vehicle to a solid catalyst and to build a biprop version of very similar design capable of doing 180 seconds.
The plans for next years LLC have stirred a bit of controversy and I’m not sure what side of the debate I agree with. The basic problem is this: The LLC is supposed to be an impartial contest, yet you have the head of the Xprize, Peter on video telling John Carmack that they will expedite the 2009 contest so Armadillo does not have to wait a full year to win the prize. That was an astonishingly ill conceived video. Peter has a personal business relationship with Armadillo, so even if there are a million legitimate reasons to accelerate the contest and change its format, that one video could be used by anyone with an axe to grind to trash both the concept of government prizes and the xprize organization in particular.
I’d really like to see the 2009 LLC be a first to demonstrate at any location like the original Xprize. This would simplify the contest for all competitors as you would only have to get permission to fly in one location, not both your testing base and the LLC venue. It would also reduce the financial burden on the xprize organization as the local logistics would be resolved by the team and not Xprize. From a personal stand point It would improve our odds of winning the 2nd place 90 second prize and enable us to then switch our focus to taking a shot at the 180 2nd place prize when we were ready rather than at some specific date. . Unfortunately I’ve personally received enough private E-mail from multiple people just steaming mad about this that I can’t see the possibility of any change in the LLC format without it ending up in court.
The sad part about this is that after spending two years working on this I have a feel for the difficulty level and I don’t see that any of the new not yet flown teams have a shot at getting a 180 second vehicle ready by October, its just too hard. Other than armadillo we are the only currently registered team that has fired a motor to thermal equilibrium with the necessary performance to do 180 seconds (Our Lox Ethanol motor) and we have chosen to take a different direction.