Tuesday 17 August 2004

X-Prize Glitches

Crossing (Out) the Rubicon :
No one was hurt in the test of the Rubicon 1 just south of Olympic National Park. The 23-foot-long, 38-inch-diameter spacecraft held three dummies simulating the weight of astronauts.

The rocket, which crashed about 200 feet from takeoff after its parachute failed to deploy, will have to be completely rebuilt, said Eric Meier, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of Space Transport Corp., of Forks.

The Armadillo Aerospace Vehicle had a small problem... :
Saturday was a perfect day for flying, so we went out to the 100 acres for a boosted hop. We had high expectations for success, since the vehicle had been operating perfectly on all tests so far.

After we loaded up the propellant and pressurized the vehicle, we ran into a problem. When I opened it up to 20% throttle for the warmup it looked like it cleared up fine, but the telemetry was only reading 100C, as if the hot pack hadn’t started heating. We were a long way from the vehicle, so we couldn’t really tell what was going on. I gave it a bunch of slugs of propellant until it finally started going up in temperature properly, but we had blown a lot of propellant out on the ground. Too much.
Basically, it ran out of go-juice at 600 feet up, and climbing. Oopsie.
We had telemetry all the way to the time of impact, which matched the video perfectly, landing eight meters from the launch point. The vehicle hit the ground basically sideways, a little tail first. The bottom manway flange broke off the tank, and the 450 pound tank with 180 psi pressure still in it got punted about 200 yards away by the gas release. $35,000 of rocket is now a whole lot of primo Armadillo Droppings. There are a few pipe fittings that survived, but that’s about it. Amazingly, even though the on-board camera was destroyed, the tape did survive with only some scuffed sections. It’s a good thing Doom 3 is selling very well…

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