Archive for February, 2008
All kinds of work has been happening over quite a few vehicles.
Here’s what has been going on in the last week:
The Tuesday night crew has been knocking out carbon clamps for Away 28. They also replaced the carbon vertical poles.
Mark and Drew laying carbon
On Saturday we were cutting and sewing ten by twenty foot fabric panels. These will set inside the balloon bag under the balloon during launch. It allows us to adjust the position of the balloon. Both sewing machines were flying as the parts were hemmed, joined, (pulled apart again) and rejoined. After this post I’m going to sew handles on the corners and it will be done.
The sensor cables on the tandem were too long. Off they came. They got trimmed, new connectors put on and remounted on the airship.
A wire running near the parachute cannon on Tandem was giving us trouble. There is a eight watt transmitter nearby and the wire was picking up noise. We tried filtering it out, but it was still a problem. We replaced the wire with coax. It’s a bit heavy but, it should do the trick.
We continued testing on the airship’s main controller. One glitch found and fixed.
Heavy duty construction was happening on the crew module mock up. The aluminum bracing for the crew couches was completed.
We completed the frames for Away 35, 36 and 37. They just look like skeletons without there decks and gear. Like a Christmas tree before you decorate it.
And last we started pulling the parts together for the Light Nose Cone project.
I read the comment recently about the silence of space.
I think this idea started with the line from the movie Aliens,
“In space, no one can hear you scream”.
This is an odd notion. Space is completely filled with pulses,
beats, tones across the entire spectrum. Even gravity has
waves to it. Jupiter acts like four million heavy metal bands
are trapped inside.
It’s as if we’re in a symphony hall and Beethoven is thunder
around us shaking the shingles off the roof and we think to
ourselves, “why is it so quite in here?”
10. It’s on Saturdays todo list.
9. 400-mile horizon sunsets.
8. Space Tourism without the zero-gee toilet.
7. Space Vacuum is the house band!!!!
6. I’m on my way to the rest of the solar system.
5. To build an orbital airship.
4. Building an orbital airship will really freak out Mike Griffin.
3. Have you ever looked down on lightening before?
2. I want to throw a paper airplane 20 miles.
1. I just want to live in the sky.
It was back out to the park to work on the balloon nozzle issue. This test was critical to the launch of the Tandem airship. It was a beautiful day. Even though the solution was not at all what we expected the solution was in hand by the end of the day.
The team has grown by nine folks in the last month. That’s a lot considering we’re a pretty small team to start with. New people are thrown right into the mix building hardware. We’re constantly training and cross training with the old hands so new people don’t really change the pace. Tuesday we used the making of a mount for Away 28 as a lesson in molding carbon.
Finally! I’ve been debugging a serial port on a new controller for days. I’ve made dozens of these things and there’s not at lot to it. This was making me a bit bonkers. It ended up being a sharp point on a bottom on a chip socket that was poking through the insulation of a wire and intermittly applying 12 volts to the attention line. The wire was moved and sharp point clipped, and a few more gray hairs added. I guess that’s what testing is for. This one will fly on Away 36 this summer.
Every corner of the shop was in action on Saturday.
The Tandems main flight controller was brought back on line. It had undergone a major overhaul. Panels for two new parachute were cut out.
We’re ramping up for quite a few flight this year. Over the next month we’ll be replicating equipment for five vehicle. Three of the vehicles will be high racks. Foam was flying as eight decks were cut out.
The last six panels of the new balloon bag were sew together. At 28 feet a piece it was quite a job.
We moving from a wood and wire to a metal and wood version of the crew module. The frames for the couches were assembled. In a few months it will be ready for training and fit studies.
We also did some simulator work and in the middle of it all the Sacramento NSS had a meeting. Definitely a space day!
There are days where lost of big exciting things are build and there are days where the team quietly plugs away getting the spaceship parts built.
The bandsaw (and Ed) got a workout. The crew module mockup has an aluminum bracket base. The saw was whining while all the parts were cut. The two more parachute panels for Away 35 were sewn together. The new balloon launch bag is getting closers to completion. All the panels are competed; two of the eight 28 foot panels were joined.
Last but not least the wiring harnesses for the new vehicle controller were solder together.
I had a fortunate accident today. I say fortunate because it didn’t cause permanent injury and has reminded me to follow our own safety procedures. I tend to get up close and personal when I solder. I was soldering a board today when a spot of solder flicked up and hit my eye lid. An 1/8th of an inch over and it would have been in my eye.
One guess where my goggles were. Right, hanging up on the wall, as in, not on my face. It made me realize that I haven’t worn goggles while soldering in quite a while. When handling a rocket or a big balloon we all very careful. The dangerous is apparent so as a result those our likely to be are safest times. It’s the common everyday dangers that bite you. So today I was very lucky and got solder in the face. It probably saved my eye ball in the future.
Last Tuesday was another night of building and coding. We welcomed three new team members, Felipe, Ricardo and Javier. They along with K’John worked on the roller drum of Away 28. They really jumped in and got a lot accomplished on their first build session with JPA.