Archive for August, 2009

Away 39 and 40

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

High Racks are the core of our development at 100,000 feet. We’re literally conducted hundreds of Airship to Orbital experiment on them. Folks that have flown with us have conducted thousands. These vehicle have really pushed back the boundary of near space development and research. Here are the next pair coming to life.

Carbon and foam decks

Carbon and foam decks

fixing_fins

Leveling Fins

Leveling Fins

Mounting fins

Mounting fins

High Racks!

High Racks!

a39a40

More Airbeam Work

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

We put everything we learned from the 5.5 psi test into the large Ascender rib airbeam. We pressured it up and it promptly burst at 3.2 psi. 0.2 psi more and we could have put this test series behind us.

It’s hard to tell if the failure was due to a structural problem or if the big rib we’ve burst, patched, stepped on and generally worn the heck out over the last year finally just gave up.

The higher pressure failures have tended to be at the sharp corners where the loads are focused. We cut out the old blown out corner and made it a seperate panel. This adds the number of panels we need to cutout and making the pattern more complex, but it lets us eliminate the corner seam. More testing tomorrow….

Inserting the airbeam inner liner.

Inserting the airbeam inner liner.

Pressure Testing

Pressure Testing
Always more sewing...

Always more sewing...

New High Racks

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The team hit the ground running Saturday. Some mission are planned years in advance. Others come in out of the blue. An unexpected opportunity has presented itself and it looks like we have two high rack flights due in short order. We are using the Away 38 system set for one vehicle and replicating it for the other. Here’s what we got done:

Two High Rack frames were assembled.

Parts were cutout for the parachute deployment basket.

We assembled a complete downlink tracking system. This has an upgrade (i.e. new cable harnesses had to be built). We were able to qualify new Trimble GPS units on the last flight. This lets us retire our old Motorola units. They served us well, but they’re over ten years old and getting a bit touchy. Also they are a quite power hogs compared to the new units.

Sewed more loops for the Ascender rib pressure test this coming Wednesday.

A new main controller insulated housing got made and the one from Away 38 patched.

Anthony and a High Rack frame.

Anthony and a High Rack frame.