Archive for January, 2009

Through the Wall….

Friday, January 30th, 2009

We finally are solving the airbeam cap leakage problem. Anthony glued an endcap to the top of a bucket and submerged in under water. Much to our surprise air was defusing out all across the surface of the bulkhead itself. It looked like a giant Alka Seltzer tablet.

We painted the cap with a sealant, put it back in the test airbeam and pumped it up. It went up to 2.8 psi then the airbeam itself failed.  There was a load bang and it went sailing across the room. This airbeam has taken a lot of abuse over the past few months of testing. There already was several patches and abrasions on the fabric. One finally let go.

Our next steps will be to sew a new airbeam, test the sealed caps, finish the seam reinforcement on the full airbeam rib, then test it to destruction.

Todays Tasks

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

It’s a rainy day here in Sacramento. The original plan was to hold a team rocket training day. Everyone has been building small model rockets. Today we were going to fly them all. Next the team is going to build “G” motor sized rockets then go up from there. The idea is to get everyone brushed up on rocket skills and procedures. We want everyone comfortable with 10,000 newton/sec plus rockets by summer.

There is still a lot to do today in spite of the rain. Today we’re building two new antenna stands, adding camera booms to the test high rack and sewing on the new balloon launch bag.

Landing (Crashing?) Video

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Here’s the last four seconds of the flight of Away 36.


Rockets Everywhere

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

The front office is getting a little crowded.

Rockets in the office Rockets in the office

Raiding the Museum

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Admit it, whenever you are in an air and space museum this thought comes into your mind, “With a wrench and pickup truck…”

We never follow up on ideas of a better use for that Titan rocket engine just sitting there. After all we want be able to come back to the museum and also we’d rather not go to jail. This week I made an exception. It’s OK, really, don’t call the police.

Two factors were involved: One, are needing to do rocket training and two we had two rockets on loan to the California Aerospace Museum for the last several years. The museum had been using the rockets for an education program, however the program was over. One pickup load later and the ML-2 rocket and the Big Red Rover Rocket are back at the shop. We also picked up the ML-1 Rocket that was being used for promotion by one of our sponsors.

All the rockets need a lot of work and TLC. They all might not fly again, but they will make excellent training platforms.

Plastic, Nylon and Thread

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The new end cap design is better, but still not there. The problem is not that it can’t be sealed. It that we want to seal it with end caps that only weight a few ounces.

The team took a break from beam work last Saturday for sewing on the new launch bag and making ground planes/shields for flight GPS antennas.

Air Beam Testing Air Beam Testing Air Beam Testing Air Beam Testing

Working the Problem

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

We had a handful of ideas on how to better seal the end caps. Our goal was to reach 3.4 psi. The new caps weren’t ready yet so we used the existing caps. This made the test easer to measure. We know how much the existing cap seals leak. We tried each modification. On each we could barely get the air beam above 1 psi! The frustration was showing on everybody’s faces. Nothing was working. We setup the air beam as we had it before when we reached 3 psi. Still, we could get no higher than 1 psi.

We finally found the source, small cracks had formed in the foam around the gauge seal. That was it for the day. We could eject a sealant into the cracks, but than it would take 24 hours to cure. We decided to pull the valve and gauge and use them in the new cap design.

The working pressure for the ribs on Ascender 100 will be 1.7 psi. At that pressure the rib has the strength needed. We want the rib to be able to take double that, 3.4 psi as a safety margin.

I’m writing up some notes on 2008. It was a great year for JPA. I’ll have it here in a couple of days.

Emmitt and an endcap plug Leaky Air beam Paul Pondering