As heard on the NASA prizes blog the new LLC rules have been approved by NASA. The draft rules had a feature that put a premium on being ready early. After reading the new rules I’m personally feeling a little less time pressure. I like the new rules and think they are a fair way to address the economic issues that prevnt xprize from holding a centralized contest. (I can’t provide more info than that so don’t ask)
We tested the silver ball this past weekend as well as a customers system and all went fairly well. We had issues with the silver ball fuel valve so we could not get a good biprop run, but we did run the motor in regen mode where the peroxide cooled the aluminum motor as it went in to be decomposed the motor worked well in this mode. The catalyst we used was the stainless/platinum monlyith we got from armadillo, the decomposition was not as good as our NDA catalyst, but it was at least as good as our liquid catalyst systems were. In the brief instant we did get some kerosene into the flow it lit immediately. We did not get to do the test we really wanted, but for a brand new vehicle and brand new engine design we ended the test with ZERO hardware squawks.
The electronics sensor suite is not really complete and hacking out the code for the not yet there parts and trying to turn it into test stand code had some issues. I partially lost control of the vehicle on the test stand and we have not yet added the redundant depressurize safety system so we had few moments with a pressurized loaded vehicle and no way to control it. Fortunately the problems were all in the application layer and gremlin’s were not bad enough to crash the Netburner RTOS core so I forced a remote reboot that safed the system.
It was the very first time we tested a brand new vehicle or rocket motor that did not end in broken hardware of some kind.
Ben Brocket (of Masten space) took a bunch of pictures and video of the test and gave me a copy of the video. I hope to post it some time this week.