Saturday, April 25, 2009

Still 90%

Worked really hard this week:

  • Fabricated electronics for and checked out Main Valve assembly.

  • Fabricated all of and tested 1/2 of the main system electronics.

  • Fabricated Electronics box.

  • Wired top end of the vehicle.

  • Assembled 100% of the plumbing.

One more long day and the silver vehicle /regen motor will be ready for a static test.

We had hoped to test this weekend, alas its not going to be. We still have to drive out to FAR on Sunday as we have committed to a customer test(Can’t talk about)  and we have a U-haul trailer attached to the truck with 1250 pounds of compressor and air drying equipment. I’ll try to show some pictures in the next few days.








Thursday, April 16, 2009

90% done 100% left to do aka trying to get the silver ball ready...

Trying to get the silver vehicle and the new motor ready to test. Its at that very frustrating 90% point. It looks like its done, and all you have to do is assemble everything. In the past I would say we will test on Saturday the 18th then scratch that the 25th scratch that the 2nd. etc… after 4 weeks of this everyone thinks I a flake. I know better now it will be ready to test when its ready to test. (My son still has a fantasy that it will be ready on the 18th)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some days its slow.

I spent all day Saturday working on the gimbal systems for the silver Ball. On Sunday we went out to the site to work on the peroxide systems. We spent most of the day getting the auxiliary door welded into the container. We also tried to setup the water tank and had water delivered to the site. Unfortunately a storage container that can support 60K lbs+ on the proper stacking points can’t support 3600 lbs of water on one end. The container was showing signs of structural stress so we drained the water.  A full 16 hour day and we accomplished almost nothing.  We now need to put together a better reinforcing frame to support the water. We will try again this weekend to get the water tank in place and start wiring the peroxide system container.

I took the aluminum motor to a flame spray vendor to get a thermal barrier coating sprayed on and alas the same shop had larger regen motors chambers  being treated. They looked like the Spacex merlin, but it was hard to tell without getting closer to them. 

As I work on the peroxide system I’m re-learning something I’ve known for all my professional life, if a vendor charges X for and object or service Y, the odds of you building a Y for less than X are almost zero.  Two examples:

Now that I’m getting close to being able to produce my own propellant, both peroxide propulsion and xl space systems look like they will be back in production arghhh!  I’m going to go ahead and finish the project so I have a back up plan. I will have to use many thousands of pounds of peroxide to reclaim my investment, even if my time is worth zero. 

A  part of the peroxide project requires  I make very dry air. I’m shooting for a dew point of around -40C, basically no water. The industrial way to do this is to use a commercial air  dryer. Most commercial systems with low pressure drop are refrigerated air system that won’t get the dew point below about 5C. The self regenerating system that will get all the water out have large pressure drops, 50 to 75 PSI or so. Since I want about 50CFM of air for my sparging column (at less than 1 psi) I would need a monster compressor to make 50CFM at 50 psi I choose to try a method that cost 50% as much as a commercial system and is turning into a monumental hack. Its quite likely that I will go back and pursue the proper industrial method with the help of ebay. Lesson learned.







Sunday, April 05, 2009

Space access 09

As always I really enjoyed the space access conference. I brought the “blue ball” with me and it seemed to become the gathering point in the entrance area. I was cool to meet a bunch of people that follow this blog.

My presentation slides are available SA09 PDF.(50MB pictures in full res)  Its not really a standalone presentaion, its more a set of potograpic notes to organize the talk. The video I presented:SA09 video

If you have followed the blog there are really only a few things you have not seen or heard before:

1)The end of the video has an on-board video from the recent flights.

2)We discussed the fact that we are having concerns about propellant availability and are working to set up a sparging system to take readily available 50% food grade peroxide and turn it into 85 to 90% “rocket” grade. We have enlisted the technical help of experienced experts in this effort and this effort is probably going to be a 6 week detour. When the facility is complete I’ll provide some pictures and a video tour.

3)We indicated that we were open to selling any of the parts pieces or technology we have developed.



Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Going to space access

We will be in Phoenix for space access. We hope to see some of you there