Archive for February, 2009

The Doctor is in the House

Friday, February 27th, 2009

A huge congratulation goes out to team member Karl Hallowell. As of yesterday he is officially Doctor Hallowell. Karl just received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of California at Davis.

Way to go Karl!!

Doctor Karl
Karl with his official doctoral cheesecake.

3.5psi !!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 27th, 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?!?!?

Patching    Full Pressure
Patching            Full Pressure

Going Up

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Powers of Ten, Part 1

A few more pics.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Drew and the reel
Drew focusing on the reel.

Resistor hunt
The Great Resistor Hunt

The Little Guy
The little guy with the big guy.

Paul’s Rocket Frame by Frame

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Paul’s feeling under the weather. These are some launch pics to get him through.

1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8

Little Rocket with Attitude

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Team member Drew put together a replica of a 1970′s vintage Centuri Two-Bitz paper rocket. This little guy will hit 1000 feet. The pics shows it sitting on top of the fin unit of the 12 foot ML upper stage.


Little Critical Systems

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

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.

Saturdays Progress

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

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.

Rocket Training Launch

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

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.

Paul building K'John's launch Launch prep

Airbeam and Antenna Stand Work

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

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.

stand building  end cap construction

Cold Testing

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

The Sacramento State University crew were testing components for the reflight of Away 28. They cooled bearing down with dry ice to simulate the effect of cold at high altitude.

frozen bearings  frozen bearings

Away 38 Work

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Away 38 will be our 100th mission. It’s a classic away mission. It will be used to troubleshoot one system, conduct experiments for the orbital airship, provide training for a special mission this fall and carry several hundred student experiments.

Away 38 work  Mini launch boxes Mini launch boxes

Mini launch box