Archive for September, 2010


Friday, September 24th, 2010

We’ve finished the remote trigger for the RF portion of the quad engine. The next step is making the mounts for the magnets.

We’ve also finished cutting out the fabric for the two 50 foot air beams (main and backup). The tricky part was marking them. Drawing eight, fifty-four foot long straight lines on an amazingly slippery lightweight fabric is a chore. Now on to hemming and joining. I can just feel the excitement of the team building, “Oh boy more sewing!”.

Air Beam Test

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

We made a seven inch diameter air beam test article. Seven inch beams will be used for the the High Beam mission and a fifty foot diameter Dark Sky Station to be launched next summer. Before committing all that fabric on a 50 foot beam we made a eight foot long seven inch diameter beam. It was mainly to testing the fitting of the inner liner and end caps. All the prior air beams were fourteen inches in diameter.

Tonight we pressurized the beam. It held fine at 2 psi, the operating pressure, and burst at 5.1 psi. My ears are still ringing…

Pics from the Skypup Taxi Tests

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The Pup Flies!

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Just for a moment. We took the Sky Pup to the airport for high speed taxi runs and hop tests today. All went incredibly well. During one of the runs I brought the Pup just off the ground a couple of feet and flew down the runway.  Does this mark the official beginning of our manned flight program? Today three of our pilots got in training before the crosswinds picked up and we had to call it a day.

The trailer got a good shake down carrying the plane 35 miles to the airport and back.  It was a good day.

Magnets for the Quad

Friday, September 17th, 2010

The Neodymium magnets for the quad engine arrived today. They will be used in the MHD generator portion of the engine.

The ruler had to be taped down down to keep it from wrapping around the magnets.

Chase Plane Update

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The engine of the Sky Pup roared to life yesterday. It’s had been sitting while the trailer was being built and had refused to start. We ended up draining all the fuel, rebuilding the fuel pump and thoroughly cleaning the carburetor.  We also mounted a steerable tail wheel.  Still no sign of the ballistic parachute from the manufacture (10 months over due).

The engine and tail wheel.

Carbon tail wheel linkage mounting bracket

Airbeams at the Edge

Monday, September 13th, 2010

To build the giant stations and airships  we need to start testing the airbeam structures up high. This is a flight we’re planning to carry a 50 foot airbeam to 100,000 feet.

We’re calling the mission “High Beam”.

Quad Power Harness

Friday, September 10th, 2010

We just finished the power harness for the mobile quad. We put in a big 60 amp switch that selects between “shore power” and the battery. This way we can do all the preliminary checklist tests while plugged into the mission control van. Then we’ll switch to battery for the last page and the firing.

The Latest

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

We’ve been packaging up the quad engine.  There is an awful lot of cables, boxes and plumping on this engine.  It would take too long to set all this up in the desert so the whole things is getting bolted down on a set of shelves.  We want to do the first fire test on our next mission.

The TV commercial for last week didn’t go through but two TV missions have popped up on the horizon. Both are about nine to twelve months out.

We are weighing and  juggling missions right now. Tandem needs one more piece of gear flight tested before it can go. We can do that in conjunction with the rocket launch flight or set up a quick half rack quick flight to take care of it. We’re looking at the dollars and the weather for the decision.