Archive for June, 2010

Orbital Ascender Systems Sketch

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010


This drawing is from “The Builders Log”, the sequel to “Floating to Space”.  Available Christmas.

Away 43 Mission Track

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

away43_path_side away43_path_leadingedge

Away 43 flew to 108,000 feet and downrange 63 miles.

Saturdays Work Session

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Saturday the team braved the baking parking lot to test fit the plane on the trailer. We had built ramps, wing stands, wing dollies, tail dollies and brackets. It all came together and the Sky Pup rolled up on the trailer. We took measurement for the next round, wing mounts and tie down brackets.

There was inside work as well. We’re still data crunching from the last mission set.  With four flights I  expect this set should be complete just before the lift off of the next one.

The data logger on the quad engine test stand is now talking to math cad.  That puts us one step closed to the first firing. Also for the quad we ran several more experiment with the MHD generator.

pup_on_trailer1 pup_on_trailer2

pup_wing pup_wings_on

Everything I needed to know I learned from Science Fiction

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Chief Engineers always exaggerate.

Never cross the streams.

Where every you go, there you are.

The Force is with you.

The enemy’s gate is down.

Always embed your website in top ten lists:

Never wear a red shirt.

Soon I will be invincible.

Take the BLUE pill.

Always know where your towel is at.

Can you identify where these came from?

MHD Generator for the Quad

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

We spent a week trying to get the MHD generator for the Quad engine to produce power. The idea is that the magnetic system at the end of the engine is used in two modes. The first  mode is that of a magnetic nozzle increasing the thrust. The second mode is that of a Magnetohydrodynamic generator convert the chemical energy of the engine into electrical power.  Some parts of it’s climb to orbit the airship needs more thrust and sometimes it needs more electrical power. The tests with the first unit were a complete bust.  Taking Mike’s suggestion we made changes to the magnets and Paul’s suggestion we build a mini version just three inches long and a half inch in diameter.

We finally got the mini putting out power: 63 uA at 50mV.  A very humble beginning but at least it’s working.


Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Sometimes you build ships and sometimes you build things to ship the ships. One of the big costs for the upcoming Tandem flight is the truck to get it to the launch site. In spite of the ability to breaking half it still takes a pretty large truck to move it in spite of it only weighing sixty pounds. We looked at conventional flat bed trailers, however the ones large enough are too heavy to pull with van of any of the recovery vehicles.

The solution was to buy a used long sailboat trailer and deck it with lightweight hollow core panels.  The decking is on, now we need to make a ramp and tie down points.  In addition to use for the Tandem the trailer will be used to get the Sky Pup chase plane to the airport. The whole cost? About $600. This compares well against the $1,200 for one time use truck rental.

trailer1 trailer21

trailer3 trailer4

New Mission Page

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I just put up the page for the last mission set.

Away 44 from Below

Monday, June 14th, 2010

From last months flights.


This is a good view of the rocket launch boxes.

Plastic and Tape

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I found another old video that never made it to Youtube.

This is Away 22 climbing away. The team built this balloon for fast climbing. It made it to 91,000 feet soaring up at 1,400 feet per minute with just a minimum of positive lift. We flew this mission in December 2003.

Working the Program

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Lots of pieces across the project were worked on during Saturdays build session.  Paul finished the modifications to one of the small balloon launch bags, Ethan glued together several vehicle antenna mounts for Away 48. Kevin assembled the ceramic insulator for the quad engine MHD power generator and Bob toiled away all day on data conversion from the last mission. Mike did epic battle with the balloon release circuit upgrade.

A lot of other tasks got crossed off the list as well. Progress was made modifying the new Tandem/Sky Pup trailer. I did a radio interview in the middle of it all and Kevin tackled the unfun task of sorting through all the helium tanks from the last mission.

Ascender 175 Pics

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Here’s some images from the Ascender 175.  These were taken about five years ago.  The new Ascender 100 should be rolled out sometime next summer (2011).



JP on the Radio

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Tomorrow at 11:15 am pacific time I’m a guest on the Space Talk radio show in Florida.

You can listen live on the web here: