Archive for April, 2008

The Big Push

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The mission date is rushing toward us and the team is flying. We’ve ramped up to eighteen hour days, seven days a week. We originally though we were flying this mission is July, but we had a big schedule slip forward and we’re only days away.

Not only are these the most sophistication vehicles we’ve flown, we are flying three of them. On top of that we’re launching them all in a thirty minute time slot.

The team has really risen to the occasion. There’s still a big push to go. I’m shooting for a personnel best on this one.

Flight Systems

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Well, it’s about midnight and the flight systems have been installed on Away 36. The two GPS antennas are on as well as the controller and video antennas. One more antenna, two video cameras and the primary experiment to go. It’s getting close.
Away 36 will be the lead vehicle in the triple launch. Time for sleep…..

I went back and installed the I/0 wire harness, (handles the balloon release and heaters). OK, I’m really leaving now.

Kung Fu

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

In the movie Core the computer geek hero (yes he was the hero) says at one point, “My Kung Fu is strong”.

That’s exactly how I felt yesterday. I wasn’t really designing a new circuit. I was was locked in a ‘to the death’ martial arts struggle. Each component threw obstacle in the way and fixes impacted other components. This board reads many very small, (and I do mean small) voltages off a customers experiment then notes the direction of the sensor. It takes the data and writes it to a memory stick and fires off a copy with a short range wireless serial port to another computer.

I would give a karate chop and layout one solution only to find that design fought back with a “manufacture stopped making that components six months ago” kick. Thinking fast I ducked with the replacement part, but I got nailed by USB interface and A/D converted pushing me over my power budget.

Normally I would spend a couple of weeks designing, then prototype and test one then build up the flight article. However with the schedule I had yesterday to design it, today to build two and tomorrow to write the software for it.

Late last night it all came together. As long as the Saturday part deliverys really make it, all will be well. My Kung Fu is strong.

I wonder if I could recruit David Carridine?

Floating to Space has a new subtitle.

Friday, April 18th, 2008

The book about all of this will be going to press any moment now. The publisher Apogee Books, got some feed back and decided to change the subtitle. It’s now “Floating to Space, The Airship To Orbit Program”. It should hit the book stores in May.

Check it out

Apogee still has the old title shown on the website, but with that one excpetion the cover looks the same.


Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

The past few days we’ve been building up telemetry systems. These will handle command and control for Away 35,36 and 37. In addition they also provide backup GPS position data.

Plug and play has yet to reach space technology. Every “plug” is a custom cable, and “play” is trying to get all these systems to talk to each other. A little hair pulling and I’m sure all will be well….

That’s no Moon….

Friday, April 11th, 2008

The new antennas have arrived. Obi-Wan’s line leaped into my brain when I saw the huge shipping boxes. We named them Death Star One and Two.

New Antennas

Blog changes

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The blog was hacked big time. About 20 pages of hidden links to pharmacy companies were embedded in the background and headers. We’ll be making changes and doing upgrades over the next few days. You may notice some changes as we work through it all.