Wednesday, October 31, 2007

von Braun, Space Frontier

I definitely read this book again. von Braun covered details about every aspect of space flight at the time: the reason for the countdown starts the book, details about the various types of escape rockets and how they work are covered, different styles of pumping and pressurizing liquid fuels and discussed, and all kinds of other stuff.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rocketplane Global... XCOR Aerospace...

The two companies that have lingered on my mind since the X Prize Cup have been Rocketplane Global and XCOR Aerospace. I hope that both companies become tremendously successful, but I spend a lot of time wondering if either of the companies can find success.

On the surface, XCOR seems to me to be the most likely company in the new race-to-space to succeed. The things that I see on the surface is that they have a couple rocket planes that actually fly with the rockets, they have developed and patented technologies critical to improving the engines (and others are using the technologies), and they aren't publicly speculating / promising when flights will be available.

XCOR's Xerus should be impressive if they can pull it off. Having built and flown the EZ-Rocket 20+ times and built and flown the next generation, Rocket Racer, it seems that they are evolving and iterating fantasticly.

Rocketplane has all the right people and just dumped the Leer that they've been working on for a couple years. To me, that says that they have no hope - sounds just like a dot-com run by rich kids. On the other hand, they are contracting almost everything out except for the stuff that is truely their core competency.

No matter what happens - those people in those companies are doing some way cool stuff. Good luck to all - yes, I think that it takes some luck to make a successful company.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The purpose of the countdown is to:

Assure maximum safety for flight crews (if any), ground crews, and equipment, while the vehicle is prepared for flight.

Avoid wearing out critical flight or ground equipment by activating it too long before launch.

Enable the launch director to launch at an exact instant - corresponding, say, to a favorable position of celestial objects, or to requirements for orbital rendezvous.

Synchronize launch preparations with supporting operations, such as the readying of radars and tracking cameras, or the setting up of road blocks near the launch site.

- Dr. Wernher von Braun

I think that for many hobby rocketeers with kids, that last bit may need to be changed to, "Synchronize launch preparations with supporting operations, such as the rounding up of the kids, the covering of the little ears, readying of radars, ...".

Friday, October 19, 2007

Close to a Thor Simulation

Entering rocket details into RockSim is not my favorite task. Fortunately for me, I almost finished creating the Thor in RockSim - that means that I'll be able to start running simulations soon.

As for construction: Greg M provided the drill press and drilled the holes in the aft centering ring last night for the motor retainer. Joe at HobbyTown helped me find another forward centering ring since one of the rings provided with the kit was consumed by the motor retainer. I expect to set all the centering rings today and hope to do some glassing with Warren on the airframe tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Clary, Rocket Man

i borrowed Rocket Man from the local library with the hope of learning a bit about Robert Goddard. The book was pretty difficult to read, so I don't expect to ever read it again. The biggest problem was that the author bounced around in time so it was confusing about what had happened versus what was going on at the time. Another confusing bit was that the author used different names for the same people, but there were so many names in the book that it became a blur.

A particularly interesting bit in the book was that they dispute a lot of Goddard's claims. Goddard was certainly an intelligent visionary, but he was exclusive and when he found people that were likely smarter or more qualified he either convinced them to work on his team or he shunned them. Goddard received more publicity than any other scientist, but he never published in scientific journals.