Archive for February, 2009
We must be geeks to get all excited about 3.5 psi. However, we’ve been trying to reach this pressure in our airbeam for a few months now. The Ascender airbeam ribs have an operating pressure of 1.7 psi. For a safety margin we wanted the rib to take 2X that amount, 3.4 psi. As followers of this blog know we’ve had a challenging time with this.
Last night we had all the fixes in and the test airbeam ran all the way. In fact we couldn’t resist going a little over to 3.5 psi just to make sure. Anthony summed it up, “Does this mean we get to do something ELSE NOW?!?!?
Powers of Ten, Part 1
We’ve been worked on several small systems and test tool the last few months. Two are just about complete. The reel system is lowering a thirty pound weight at a nice easy pace and can be smoothly stopped and started. We’ll do a bit more shop testing then it will be off to the tall ravine bridge. There we can test the full 500 distance run.
The new airbeam shell and endcaps are finished. This Wednesday we’ll do the pressure tests. We need to reach 3.4 psi with the test airbeam. Once we manage that we can put what we’ve learned into the Ascender rib airbeam.
Another new little critical system is a heater unit. This heater will warm the rocket motor before launch at 100,000 feet. The crew got the prototype together and did a great job getting data out of it on a series of test runs.
We had the whole shop going Saturday. The team make progress across several missions and vehicles. We glued another seam reinforcement strip onto the new airbeam. This is a long process. After each seven foot seam has it’s reinforcement glued on it needs to set under 200 pounds of load for 24 hours. The wizzzz bang sounds were getting fewer and fewer as the day went on. It was the tangible evidence that progress was being make on the controllability of the reel system. The new end caps got the first half of a fiberglass band laid on. Finally we finished integrating the mini launch boxes onto the frame, make new camera housings and started the wiring harnesses for Away 38.
It gives me a warm glow when so many projects are humming along in the “down to the detail” mode. It’s not as flashy as a flight or a big vehicle assembly but I believe this is where the real work of getting to space happens.
The team hit the field with a handful of little rocket. This was a change to re-touch base with the basics. We got 17 liftoffs in just under two hours. There were all “A” motor rockets. Even though they were small we ran though the procedures like they were heading to space. Next the team will be building “G” motor rockets.
The new airbeam with it’s new end caps is just about done. This Saturday we’ll finish the new plain (no valves) cap and glue the last reinforcement on the fabric seams.
The team has complete two more new antenna stands. This gives enough to support four major antennas, two small antennas plus the two vertical antennas on the van’s mast. To the cheers of all we can retire the old PCV antenna stands.