Sunday, May 24, 2009


We went out to FAR and tested our H2O2 and Kerosene regen Motor.We ran it in Mon0-prop mode then in Bi-prop mode. It took a awhile to light in bi-prop mode, but We ran to about 80% throttle without damage in biprop mode. The Video does not really do it justice as it seems to have “sampling” effects. The Monolithic cat pack is clearly not getting good decomposition, probably leading to slow ignition. We need to rework the system test software so we can independently vary the proportions rather than have a fixed schedule. I have not yet reduced the data, but I’ll do that in the next 24 hours and post the result. You can find the you tube video .

It was a long day and when we packed up we failed to notice a melted spot on one of the vehicle tie down straps and being tired we did not double up as we usually do. So the front strap failed and the vehicle left the truck on the dirt road leaving FAR. The road is really rough and we were going about 40mph, we did not notice the vehicle depart. We noticed it was gone and had to drive back 1.5 miles to find it. Other than a cracked mounting tab and broken fitting on top of two the small stainless spheres it was largely undamaged. We were lucky.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This past week...

I did zero rocket work in the past week. I spent most of the week taking care of my Dad. My Step Mom was out of town and Dad has pretty much lost contact with reality, so I was parent sitting. My Father was a Coast Guard pilot and later a bush pilot in Alaska. I thought he might enjoy some airplanes so I took him to the Chino air show this past weekend. A lot of really cool WWII flying machines, but he barely noticed them flying by.

With a very young child you see progress every day so the level of care and attention have an expected end/reward. Taking care of an elder person is just hard.

Chase your dreams NOW as you never know whats comming.

On the Rocket front we hope to static test the silver ball again this weekend.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

News and Things..

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. 

Friday, May 01, 2009

Silver ball is on the way to FAR.

We should do a static test of the new vehicle and motor this weekend. Still does not have gimbal actuators or roll thrustors, but the propulsion system is complete and shop tested.