June 20 2013 12:05:30 AM |
Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX (#1 on the NSG 100), recently gave a talk entitled "Engineering America" about the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the TEDxChapmanU event.
As President and COO of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for the company's day-to-day operations, as well as managing all customer and strategic relations needed to support company growth. She joined SpaceX in 2002 as Vice President of Business Development and built the Falcon vehicle family manifest to more than 50 launches, representing over $5 billion in revenue. Previously, she worked at the Aerospace Corporation and at Microcosm's Space Systems Division.
Shotwell has authored dozens of papers on a variety of subjects, including standardizing spacecraft/payload interfaces, conceptual small spacecraft design, infrared signature target modeling, space shuttle integration, and reentry vehicle operational risks. In recognition of her work, she received the 2011 World Technology Award for Individual Achievement in Space and was inducted into Women In Technology International Hall of Fame in 2012. Earlier this year, she was elected as a Fellow to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
June 19 2013 11:05:45 PM |
Stratasys, a NSG PTC, announced today that it will acquire MakerBot, a former 1st Tier NSG 100, effectively merging two of the biggest names in the 3-D printing industry. The $403M deal will allow Stratasys to compete more in the consumer 3-D printing market. Makerbot makes systems for hobbyists with the Replicator 2 selling for $2,199. The Brooklyn-based MakerBot has sold more than 22,000 desktop 3-D printers since it was founded in 2009 with 11,000 of those printers in the past nine months.
David Reis, Stratasys CEO, stated,
"MakerBot has impressive products, and we believe that the company's strategy of making 3-D printing accessible and affordable will continue to drive adoption."
Stratasys, which specializes in professional-grade 3-D printers, said it will operate MakerBot as a separate subsidiary once the merger is complete. The companies expect to finalize the deal by the third quarter of 2013. Bre Pettis, Makerbot CEO and Co-Founder, will remain on board. In the stock-for-stock deal, Stratasys will purchase all of privately held Makerbot's shares in exchange for 4.8 million shares of Stratasys' publicly traded shares.
For more information: Stratasys buys Makerbot 3-D printing company for $400 million - CNN
June 19 2013 08:56:02 PM |
After 3 years of research, the first static test of the Aurora DHX-200 rocket engine was completed. The Aurora DHX-200 has a total impulse of
200 kN [200 kNs] and is designed solely by students of the Delft University of Technology It makes use of the same hybrid technology used in Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a 1st Tier NSG 100. Footage and information regarding the test can be found at: First Stratos propulsion tests at TNO.
The rocket engine is being developed for Project Stratos, the leading project of Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE). The aim of Project Stratos is to be the first student team in the world to reach space with an in-house developed rocket. DARE currently holds the European Height Record for Amateur Rockets. DARE set the record in 2009 when Stratos I reached 12.3 km and is planning on reaching 50 km with its Stratos II rocket slated for launch in 2014. Stratos II is capable of carrying up to 12 scientific experiments. The Project Stratos team behind the Aurora DHX-200 will be presenting at the Joint Propulsion Conference July 15-17, 2013 in San Jose, California.
Launch Vehicle Providers, the 2nd of the “8-Verticals of NewSpace”, were recently highlighted in the June 2013 issue of Thruster.
June 19 2013 04:13:44 PM |
An announcement from Made in Space:
3D Printer Bound for International Space Station Passes
Critical Microgravity Flight Tests
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The first 3D printer bound for space passed a series of critical microgravity tests at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Made in Space, the space manufacturing company, conducted examinations of their proprietary 3D printer technology during four microgravity flights lasting two hours each, simulating conditions found on the ISS.
The printer, as part of the 3D Print Experiment in coordination with NASA, is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014.
"Humanity's future ultimately depends on our ability to explore and occupy space. The 3D printing technologies developed and tested during our Zero-G flights are a cornerstone to building that future. We reached a milestone in our goal to lay that cornerstone with the success of these prototype tests," said Mike Snyder, P.I. on the 3D Print Experiment and Lead Design Engineer.
The unique challenges posed by off-Earth 3D printing require technology and hardware specifically adapted for space. In these microgravity tests, Made in Space assessed layer adhesion, resolution and part strength in the microgravity environment.
“The 3D printer we’re developing for the ISS is all about enabling astronauts today to be less dependent on Earth,” said Noah Paul-Gin, Microgravity Experiment Lead. “The version that will arrive on the ISS next year has the capability of building an estimated 30% of the spare parts on the station, as well as various objects such as specialty tools and experiment upgrades.”
3D printers use extrusion-based additive manufacturing to build objects layer by layer out of polymers, composites, metals and other materials. The success of these recent microgravity tests is evidence that Made in Space’s vision of a future is one step closer: a future where everything from simple tools to immense satellite arrays are printed in space.
The flights were made as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. In 2011, Made in Space was chosen to perform both parabolic and suborbital test flights. The company was then awarded a NASA Phase 1 SBIR Contract to deliver their 3D printer to the ISS.
Previous test flights guided the design of the current prototype, the first and only 3D printer designed for space. Over four flights consisting of 32 microgravity parabolas each, three prototype versions were tested. They were secured in Zero-G Corporation’s modified Boeing 727 to examine printing and hardware effects over the course of the two-hour flights.
“There’s an awful lot of excitement about this technology. NASA benefits by extending low-cost opportunities through the Flight Opportunities Program to businesses like Made in Space. We’re looking at them as the poster child for the game-changing possibilities of 3D printing,” said Dougal Maclise, Manager of NASA’s CRuSR program.
The 3D printer prototype will next engage in environmental testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
"Today, we demonstrated that our 3D printers can print in microgravity. Next year, we will demonstrate that they can print on the International Space Station," said Mike Chen, Strategic Officer
About Made in Space
Founded in 2010 with the goal of enabling in-space manufacturing, Made in Space set out to radically impact how we do space missions today. Made in Space’s team members and advisors include successful entrepreneurs (Aaron Kemmer, Jason Dunn, Mike Chen, Jason Lam, Alison Lewis), experienced space experts (three-time astronaut Dan Barry, Mission Lead Mike Snyder, and NanoRacks, LLC CTO Mike Johnson) and key 3D printing experts (Scott Summit, Gonzalo Martinez). Made in Space has partnered with top 3D printing companies to leverage this technology for use in space. The company’s Unique Innovation Lab has done over 20,000+ hours of testing of various 3D printing technologies, off-the-shelf and custom-built printers, and dozens of printer components.
For more information about Made in Space, visit: www.madeinspace.us
June 19 2013 01:45:18 AM |
Launch licenses and permits may start taking longer to obtain: House Appropriators Want Deep Cut to FAA Commercial Space Launch Office - spacepolicyonline.com
The House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will meet tomorrow to markup the draft FY2014 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. As drafted, the bill would reduce AST from its requested level of $16.01 million to $14.16 million.
Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace, said "These cuts are ill-advised to say the least. At a time when we're depending so heavily on commercial space transportation to do this to the FAA-AST will have serious consequences, causing delays throughout the industry and even potentially putting lives in danger. It's certainly my hope that all of the AST's funding can be restored."
June 19 2013 12:45:31 AM |
Stratolaunch Systems has posted a snazzy new animation of their air launch system with an Orbital Sciences rocket (via Parabolic Arc):
June 19 2013 12:40:17 AM |
Never expected to see a narrated NASA video about an agency sponsored flight at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch facility in Mojave, but this one about the Garvey Spacecraft launch last Friday (see earlier posting) is quite nicely done:
June 18 2013 09:24:12 PM |
SES, a NSG PTC, announces the successful launch of the SES-6 satellite on an ILS Proton Breeze M booster on June 3, 2013. After a 15-hour, 31-minute flight, the Breeze M upper stage released the SES-6 directly into geostationary transfer orbit.
SES also announces the Brazilian telecommunication group Oi is a new anchor customer who signed a significant long-term capacity agreement to provide Direct-to-Home (DTH) services in Brazi making Oi the largest user of the new satellite. Satellites, the 1st of the “8-Verticals of NewSpace”, were highlighted in the March 2013 issue of Thruster.
SES has 3 upcoming launches in 2013. The next slated launch is scheduled for July 2013 when an ILS Proton booster will orbit the ASTRA 2E spacecraft. SES also has two launches planned for Quarter 3 of 2013 including the launch of ASTRA 5B on an Ariane 5 ECA and the launch of SES-8 on a SpaceX Falcon 9. SpaceX is currently #1 on the NSG 100. Launch Vehicle Providers, the 2nd of the “8-Verticals of NewSpace”, were recently highlighted in the June 2013 issue of Thruster.
SES-8 is second in line in the SpaceX launch manifest. Following a successful launch of CASSIOPE on the new Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, SpaceX will launch SES-8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SES-8 will be the first payload put into geostationary transfer orbit by a Falcon 9.
For more information: SES-6 Satellite Launched Successfully with Large Brazilian Anchor Customer - SES
June 18 2013 07:46:19 PM |
UP Aerospace will fly their SpaceLoft XL from Spaceport America on Friday, June 21st. The payloads are sponsored by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Here's a list and description of the seven payloads: UP AeroSpace SLS 7 Suborbital Flight (pdf). This includes two payloads from the New Mexico Space Grant Education Launch Program.
UP Aerospace is posting updates on preparations for the launch at (UPAerospace) on Twitter. Here is the latest post - Twitter / UPAerospace:
The rocket is now assembled and loaded onto the launcher.
Here's the mission patch:
June 18 2013 07:28:01 PM |
A NASA report on the Garvey Spacecraft Corp launch of the Prospector-18D reusable liquid-fueled rocket with four cubesats on a low altitude flight last Saturday (see earlier posting):
By Anna Heiney,
NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert [June] 15 in a high-altitude demonstration flight that tested the sensor and equipment designs created by NASA engineers and student launch teams.
The satellites, known as CubeSats, lifted off from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in the Mojave Desert aboard a Prospector 18 rocket, built by Garvey Spacecraft Corp. of Long Beach.
Data recorded by the CubeSats' onboard sensors during Saturday's flight test will help characterize the environment and loads the small satellites encountered during flight -- information that's critical to the scientists and engineers developing similar spacecraft for future missions.
CubeSats are 4-inch cubes that pack a lot of capability into their small size. While they typically fly as secondary payloads on larger missions involving bigger spacecraft and rockets, the goal is to eventually have the option of launching them as the primary payload on smaller rockets.
Saturday's flight test was a critical step forward in the development of such missions.
Test team personnel reported to the launch site as the sun began to rise. At 10:52 a.m. Pacific Time, the Prospector rocket's single liquid-fueled engine ignited and the vehicle quickly rose above the desert landscape, reaching a peak altitude of about 9,000 feet. The vehicle's parachutes released prematurely, but the rocket continued on its path, coasting and tumbling, ultimately landing on its side with its pint-sized payload still tucked safely inside.
But the early parachute deployment and hard landing are not considered setbacks, according to Garrett Skrobot, the High Altitude Demonstration Mission's project manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
"We consider it a success because we were able to test out all the experiments, and this flight also proves the versatility of the experiments we were flying," Skrobot said. "What we learned was that we're able to fly four payloads with new hardware in an unexpected environment -- and they performed."
"The whole point is to test these systems before going on to the next vehicle," he added.
Each of the four CubeSats was designed to test or evaluate different aspects of the flight. All were retrieved from the rocket after landing, and team members already are working to recover as much data as possible from the satellites' memory cards.
Two student-built spacecraft were designed to work together to record the launch environment. CP-9, built by the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, and StangSat, created by students at Merritt Island High School in Florida, also were planned to demonstrate the ability to communicate with each other through an onboard Wi-Fi connection.
The duo, which endured the rough ride with minimal damage, are slated to fly aboard a Falcon 9 rocket during SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.
The Rocket University Broad Initiatives CubeSat, or RUBICS-1, was contributed by Kennedy employees participating in the center's Rocket University program. The spacecraft was instrumented to check out the performance of a new, lightweight version of the satellites' carrier, built by Tyvak of Irvine, Calif.
PhoneSat, built by NASA's Ames Research Center in California, take advantage of smartphones' power, memory and camera technologies, compact size, and off-the-shelf availability for the development of low-cost spacecraft. RUBICS and PhoneSat received data during the flight.
Participants will take advantage of the learning opportunity afforded by Saturday's flight anomaly to assess what they need to change as they recondition the satellites for upcoming missions.
"I asked all the teams if they'd want to fly again in four to six months," Skrobot said. "The answer was a unanimous 'yes.' "
June 18 2013 04:31:42 PM |
NASA's announces a plan for its asteroid program that includes partnerships with the private sector. (See also the NASA - Asteroid Initiative Request for Information):
WASHINGTON -- NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them.
The challenge, which was announced at an asteroid initiative industry and partner day at NASA Headquarters in Washington, is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA's recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it.
"NASA already is working to find asteroids that might be a threat to our planet, and while we have found 95 percent of the large asteroids near the Earth's orbit, we need to find all those that might be a threat to Earth," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats. We will also harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem."
Grand Challenges are ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology. They are an important element of President Obama's Strategy for American Innovation.
"I applaud NASA for issuing this Grand Challenge because finding asteroid threats, and having a plan for dealing with them, needs to be an all-hands-on-deck effort," said Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The efforts of private-sector partners and our citizen scientists will augment the work NASA already is doing to improve near-Earth object detection capabilities."
NASA also released a request for information (RFI) that invites industry and potential partners to offer ideas on accomplishing NASA's goal to locate, redirect, and explore an asteroid, as well as find and plan for asteroid threats. The RFI is open for 30 days, and responses will be used to help develop public engagement opportunities and a September industry workshop.
To watch the archived video of Tuesday's asteroid initiative industry and partner day, visit: http://youtube.com/nasatelevision
For more information about NASA's asteroid initiative, including presentations from Tuesday's event and a link to the new RFI, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative
Update: Here is the video of today's presentation of the initiative and panel discussion:
June 18 2013 05:31:39 AM |
Joe Abbott in Waco hears from Christina Ra of SpaceX that they will try to do another long duration test of the Falcon 9-R booster as early as Tuesday evening: Another SpaceX test possible Tuesday evening as company gets new customer - Joe Science/WacoTrib.com.
I check occasionally but no SpaceX video yet of the successful Grasshopper flight last Friday to 350m.
No [There is now an] entry at the FAA yet either.
SpaceX gets another geostationary satellite launch order: With Chinese Option Blocked, European-built Satellite To Fly Atop Falcon 9 - SpaceNews.com.
June 17 2013 08:31:59 PM |
Google, a NSG PTC, is looking to provide Internet to a significant portion of the world that is unconnected, which is currently estimated to be 5 billion. Google hopes to do this with Project Loon. The grand vision is to have hundreds to thousands of high pressure balloons circling the earth providing Internet to the world’s population in remote areas. Google held a press conference with John Key, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, on Friday to officially announce the program.
Project Loon’s first successful trial consisted of providing an antenna to Hayden MacKenzie, a farmer in Geraldine, New Zealand. The antenna on his roof was designed to communicate with a similar antenna floating in the stratosphere on a solar-powered balloon which provided his remote home with broadband internet. The next trial will consist of 50 testers in Christchurch, New Zealand, within a 12-mile range of the balloons to see if they can get connected from the sky. This area of New Zealand is home to numerous isolated inhabitants without Internet access.
Project Loon began a little under two years ago in Google’s high-risk research division, Google X. Rich DeVaul, an expert in wearable technology, began a series of trial runs in California’s Central Valley in August 2011. By early 2012, the experiment became a major Google X project and a new project lead was hired. Mike Cassidy, a top search engineer who had started multiple companies before joining Google, took the position. Cassidy formed a collaboration with Raven Aerostar to produce the balloons, the same company that makes weather balloons for NASA and the balloon that Red Bull Stratos, 1st Tier NSG 100, used.
Google has numerous NewSpace competitors that are looking to provide Internet from space via satellites. One major competitor is O3b Networks, a 1st Tier NSG 100 company. O3b is looking to deploy a next-generation satellite network that combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fiber. O3b is slated for launch on June 24, 2013. Google is currently an investor in O3b which ties into O3b’s index score in Capital, the 3rd of the “NSG 4-Screens”.
There are other NewSpace players looking to provide Internet via satellites including 1st Tier NSG 100s Asia Broadcast Satellite and Telesat along with NSG OTB Optimal Satcom. This competition will affect each of these companies' scores in Market, the 2nd of the “NSG 4-Screens”.
There are also other publicly-traded companies in this market that are tracked in the NSG PTC index including ViaSat, Harris, SES, and Cisco. Cisco received the Frost & Sullivan 2012 Global Satellite Transponder Technology Innovation Award last year for its Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) technology. IRIS extends the benefits of Internet Protocol (IP) to satellite communications, which have traditionally used proprietary protocols that are difficult to operate with conventional IP-based wireline and wireless networks.
The March 2013 issue of Thruster focused on “Spacecraft,” or the 1st of the “8-Verticals of NewSpace.” The $50Bn+ satellite market lives within the 1st Vertical with over 80% of NSG 100s generating revenue as primary source from satellites. Privately-held companies, along with publicly-traded ones, are hoping to advance in this lucrative market where two-thirds of the world’s population does not have Internet access. NSG analysts are closely following Google’s progress on Project Loon, along with the progress of NewSpace companies, as competition continues to heat up.
For more information: How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons to Deliver Internet to the Hinterlands - Wired
June 17 2013 05:45:51 PM |
Jeff Feige of Orbital Outfitters talked with Moonandback "about the company, its flagship product, how the suit is a safety subsystem that requires extensive integration with safety and other systems in a vehicle, and the emergence of the NewSpace industry from the economic downturn and its effect on Orbital Outfitters.": Jeff Feige - Outlook for Outfitters - The Moonandback Interview Documentary Project.
June 17 2013 03:51:04 PM |
A recent announcement from SpaceXC:
SXC Announces New CEO Georgette Schlick and New CCO Rogier Kroymans
Georgette Schlick to head SXC Group, Rogier Kroymans responsible for overall sales strategy
Amsterdam, 13 June 2013 – The appointment of Georgette Schlick as CEO of SXC Group coincides with the expansion of SXC to New York and Hong Kong, in order to fulfill the specific needs for customers from Asia and the Americas. Michiel Mol, SXC founder: “A rapidly growing corporation like SXC needs an internationally experienced CEO that knows how to manage and optimize business. We are extremely pleased to have an organizational talent like Georgette join our team.”
Schlick brings impressive international management experience at corporations such as SBS Broadcasting and Brunel to the table. She is as pleased as Mol to become part of the SXC team: “To lead a commercial space agency never occurred to me, but when we got to talk, I made up my mind immediately. To be able to be part of history, together with our customers, makes this the best job in the world.”
Rogier Kroymans will be responsible for the overall sales strategy and he will be in charge of all global sales activities. Having spent a great part of his career marketing either high-end luxury goods or sustainable innovations, Kroymans is pleased to finally be able to combine both at SXC. “What appeals to me most is the fact that SXC’s customers are pioneers, I look forward to working with them!” Mol on the appointment of Kroymans: “We are looking forward to working together towards the end of our countdown: the first rocket powered test flights before the end of the year.”
About Space Expedition Corporation (SXC)
From 2014 on, Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) will perform daily commercial flights into space. SXC offers passengers a life-changing experience in viewing our planet Earth from 100 kilometers high. Plus, having been at that altitude, they can rightly be called astronauts. XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, California, USA, designed and built the Lynx spacecraft, which will perform the space flights. SXC is proud to be the launching customer of the Lynx, which comfortably takes off and lands like a normal airplane, from regular airports. The flexibility of the Lynx spacecraft enables operation from almost any commercial airport. Most likely, the Curacao airport in the Caribbean will be the first location – and Spaceport – outside the USA. The spaceflight costs $100,000 per flight. XCOR and SXC have sold over 200 tickets so far.
June 17 2013 03:45:05 PM |
An announcement from Virgin Galactic (See also The next generation of women in space - Richard's Blog/Virgin.com.)
Virgin Galactic Celebrates New Era of Women in Spaceflight as
Female Customer Becomes 600th Future Astronaut
This Milestone Falls Amidst Anniversaries of the First Females to Travel to Space
LONDON – Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and Virgin Galactic, today announced that the company’s 600th future astronaut is Marsha Waters, the owner of an accounting services company based in Blackpool, United Kingdom. Marsha, 42, embodies the next generation of women in space: private individuals who are passionate about experiencing space travel for themselves. Sir Richard and Marsha are pictured here at The B Team launch in London on June 13. Marsha first took an interest in Virgin Galactic in 2010 and has been following its progress ever since.
“I’ve always been fascinated with space and often wondered whether space travel would ever be a possibility for people like me, especially in my lifetime,” Marsha said. “After watching Virgin Galactic’s supersonic test flightat the end of April, I thought “this is it” and made the decision to purchase my ticket to space while I still had the chance. It’s a big step and a major financial commitment for me, but I know it will be the most exciting, worthwhile adventure I will ever embark upon.”
This milestone coincides with two significant anniversaries relating to women who have made a substantial impact on the world through space travel. Valentina Tereshkova, a retired Soviet cosmonaut, made history on June 16, 1963 when she entered into low Earth orbit, giving her the title of “first woman to have flown in space.” Sally Ride followed her lead on June 18, 1983 and became the first American woman to enter space.
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Groupand aabar Investments PJC, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted more than $70 million in deposits from Future Astronauts around the world. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be manufactured by Virgin Galactic in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport Americain New Mexico.
June 17 2013 03:27:09 PM |
The UK company Fine Tubes Ltd sent me this release about their work with Reaction Engines:
Skylon Testing Success for Fine Tubes and Reaction Engines
Fine Tubes technology continues to support developments in aerospace with its lightweight tubing used in the heat exchange system of Skylon’s SABRE engine.
Visit FineTubes stand at The Paris Airshow 2013 Hall 2B, WEAF STAND No. E170
Fine Tubes (www.finetubes.com) a leading metal tubes manufacturer specialising in the aerospace, medical, chemical process, nuclear, power and oil and gas sectors has cause to celebrate as a 10 year project sees results.
After a decade of work with Reaction Engines – developers of Skylon, one of the world’s first reusable space planes – Fine Tubes can announce that testing of its contribution has been a success.
The company manufactured over 2000km of tubing for Skylon, with each tube at a wall thickness of just half the diameter of a human hair. Reaction Engines’ objective is so challenging that a lot of goals had to be met; the tubes had to be lightweight, highly heat and pressure resistant, and have a strength that could cope with thermal expansions. The resulting heat exchangers are 100 times lighter than existing technologies and enable the cooling of airstreams from over 1000°C to -150°C in less than 1/100th of a second.
Dr Robert Bond, Corporate Programmes Director of Reaction Engines commented: “No one else has managed to create heat exchangers like this before, due in part to the fact that the specifications for the components are very demanding. There are a few other companies which can produce the kind of high tech tube we need but the Fine Tubes product is extremely high quality, meeting all the project specifications and we are very pleased with its performance.”
Fine Tubes used Inconel, a nickel alloy that has excellent heat resistance. Because of the amount of tubing required, it had to be as lightweight as possible. Inconel is a difficult material to shape and the thinness required meant it was easily damaged, so to fulfil Reaction Engines’ requirements Fine Tubes installed completely new equipment for the tube cleaning process at its tube mill.
Now, testing of the heat exchange system for SABRE – Skylon’s Hybrid Engine – has proved 10 years of work a worthy cause for Fine Tubes. The testers confirmed that all demonstration objectives were met for the SABRE engine’s pre-cooler heat exchanger, and found the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150°C.
Dr Mark Ford, ESA's Head of Propulsion Engineering, said: “One of the major obstacles to developing air-breathing engines for launch vehicles is the development of lightweight high-performance heat exchangers. With this now successfully demonstrated by Reaction Engines Ltd, there are currently no technical reasons why the SABRE engine programme cannot move forward into the next stage of development."
As soon as Reaction Engines hits its next funding goal, work will continue towards the next phase of testing in building the prototype of a fully functioning engine.
Ronen Day, Managing Director of Fine Tubes said: "Developing a lightweight heat exchange system was one of the major issues standing in the way of the space plane’s development. With Fine Tubes’ contribution now proven by successful testing, Skylon is set to be a major breakthrough in the aerospace sector.”
After this testing success, the technologies involved in Skylon’s SABRE engine are now being applied to other projects, for example the second phase of the LAPCAT (Long-term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies) project. The study intends to investigate further technological developments that can reduce long distance flights to under four hours.
June 17 2013 03:14:54 PM |
Aerojet Rocketdyne says it can supply NK-33/AJ-26 engines to Orbital Sciences beyond the current inventory: Antares First-stage Engines Available Long Term, Aerojet Rocketdyne Chief Says - SpaceNews.com
Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren Boley, not surprisingly, doesn't sound too upset with ULA preventing Orbital from buying RD-180 engines. (See FTC investigating ULA for monopolizing RD-180 engines.)
Less competition in rocket engines will apparently bring all sorts of benefits: Aerojet Rocketdyne sees 10-year savings of $1 bln - Reuters.
Arianespace would like to speed up the development of the upgraded Ariane 5: Ariane 5 rocket upgrades could be accelerated - Spaceflight Now
gives a review of the what is believed to have caused the engine failure during the Falcon 9/Dragon launch last October: SpaceX: Engine Anomaly Overview - Aviation Week