Archive for May, 2017

Zippers Everywhere

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Today the crew is sewing the last of the zippers in Ascender 9. There are a lot of zippers in this thing. One nine foot nose zipper for inflation, six foot zippers on each tail, ten, two and a half foot along each keel and two  six foot emergency egress zippers on each side.

TransAtmospheric Ascender

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The TransAtmospheric Ascender will be our first airship to reach space. The vehicle is 2100 feet long and will have a crew of three. It will have a peak altitude of 350,000 feet and a maximum velocity of Mach 5.  Technically it is a hypersonic waverider. The TransAtmospheric Ascender is strictly a suborbital vehicle. It will fly from a Block 2 Dark Sky Station floating at 120,000 feet to space then return to the station. The airship will be driven by a single four chamber version of our symphony hybrid chemical/electric rocket engine.

The TransAtmospheric Ascender is still a few years away but as we get closer the design starts to firm up. Just thought you would like a look at where it stands.

JPA Article in Science 2.0

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

There’s a article about JPA at Science 2.0. It’s a good article.A few minor errors (Dark Sky Station will be at 140,000 feet not 180,000 feet and we never charge for PongSats). However overall it really captures what we’re up to.

New Motors and Propellers

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Ascender 9 now has it’s motors and props!

Sunrise at 100,000 feet

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

It’s morning at the edge of space.

Bruno Selmi

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

It was midnight when we dragged our exhausted, dust covered bodies
back into town. There was a dozen of us unloading in the parking lot
of “Bruno’s Country Club” in the little desert town of Gerlach, Nevada.
The restaurant had been closed since 8 that evening and the nearest
anything was a two hour drive away. Then out from the bar comes this
truly ancient and grouchy man, Bruno himself. In his broken English
“What the hell yous doing out
there. Get in here.”

He ushered us all in and then he vanished through the connecting
door to the restaurant while say something about us being damn
fools (I’m paraphrasing Bruno’s language was much more grand,
expansive and colorful). A bit later out comes Bruno in his apron
with plates of sandwiches, potato salad and coffee for the crew.

Years before Bruno kept the bar open for just me till 4 in the
morning while waiting for word that one of our recovery teams
making out of the desert was safe. In those wee hours I got the
whole story of Bruno’s life growing up in Tuscany and exactly why
Italians are better at raising cattle. He wouldn’t hear of shutting
down until we got the news everyone was safe.

Too many stories.

Bruno passes away this week at the age of 94.

Since our first flight in the Black Rock desert in the early 80′s
Bruno has taken care my team.

Thank you Bruno.

Ascender 9 Keel Truss Nearing Completion

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

One more segment and the two 80 foot long keel trusses for the new Ascender 9 airship will be done.