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Near Space Maneuvering Vehicle

Posted by: C M Edwards - Mon Aug 29, 2005 7:25 pm
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Near Space Maneuvering Vehicle 
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Post Near Space Maneuvering Vehicle   Posted on: Mon Aug 29, 2005 7:25 pm
What is the status of the Near Space Maneuvering Vehicle (NSMV) program - the Ascender JP Aerospace is creating for the US Air Force?

Just a few days ago, I stumbled across a series of articles in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report from last year and early 2005 (AD&DR 20 Oct 2004, 2 Nov 2004, 5 Nov 2004, and 18 Mar 2005). (Yes, this story is five months old. I really must stop blogging for my news...)

They stated that the Air Force was reconsidering its NSMV program on the grounds that the NSMV had failed to perform as expected.

According to the reports, testing of the NSMV was given over to Global Solutions for Science and Learning (GSSL), not JP Aerospace. They promptly grounded it, citing problems with the propeller and unspecified "engineering oversights," and proceeded to start testing a better propeller for the vehicle. Both tests of their own propeller on their own scientific balloons failed due to balloon related mechanical problems, and GSSL declared the whole NSMV testing a failure.

As near as I can tell, no JP Aerospace hardware ever actually flew during GSSL's NSMV testing. GSSL's objections were based on design analysis only. Given the claims of successful tests by JP Aerospace, it looks like GSSL's word against JPA's. GSSL's position as a competitor for similar USAf contracts does not add to its credibility, either. But apparently the USAF was going with GSSL as of March.

This did not look promising. Did JP Aerospace save its hardware from the clutches of GSSL? Did USAF curtail NSMV funding over the past five months? Can they still fly an ascender in short order if this major sponsor backs out? Are they doomed? The suspense is killing me!

Gee, I feel like I missed the last five issues of my favorite comic book. 8)

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 30, 2005 7:18 am
When we took the big NSMV to Texas for Air Force testing there was fairly major disagreement as to the safety envelope. The engineered, printed, stated, reported and agreed upon, operating limits were radicly exceeded. The vehicle was brought out on the tarmac and inflation begun in winds that were gusting to 20 knots. The max limit for inflation was 3 knots.

Now, I bear some of the responsibility. We are civilians and the Air Force can't really order our vehicle around even though Air Force personel were handling it, but they did so and (slightly intimidated) we did. The resulting accident destroyed the vehicle and several people had minor injuries, cuts, road rash, a torn shoulder and three broken ribs, (yours truly on the ribs). The large dust devil that hit it took the vehicle, (or rather 3/4 of it) over three hundred feet in the air and smashed it about two hundred yards down range.

We refused to proceed forward with repair or building a new vehicle until we had assurances that safety regs, safety envelopes and safety proceeds could not be over road by Air Force personnel, (their own safety officer halted the flight earlier that morning and was overridden by the commander in charge). We were told with great vigour and many colorful and unprofessional words that they could do whatever they deemed best.
So we ended our relationship with Air Force.

They trucked the whole thing to GSSL who couldn't do anything with it. Not suprising.
We heard that they didn't remove the props from the motors when they threw them in the back of a U Haul to ship them. The props hadn't been damaged in the accident, however they were not design to be shipped like that, (we had seperate packing containers for them), and when they arrived I was told that there shafts were all cracked.

I'm not suprised that nothing could be done with the vehicle. The envelope and all the internal envelope systems, the heart of what makes it work were completely wiped out.
They tried to repaired it without any of the design documentation, schematics or blue prints. All they had was the operation manuel. Who knows what they built from the wreckage.

What I really objected to was the way they bashed the design and JP Aerospace after they couldn't fix the NSMV. The shame of it all was the Army sunk tens of millions of dollars into a high altitude airship with one of the big defence contractors and got nothing.
The Air Force sunk $300,000 into us and got three development vehicles, four 100,000 foot equipment test flights on balloons, (including one verifying propeller performance), and if they just waited two more days, when the weather was perfect, they would of had their own high altitude airship.

We're not bitter, we've moved on. The best thing we can to is fly the vehicles on our own and show what they can do. There are two new airships under construction 50 feet behind me as I type.

John Powell
President
JP Aerospace, America's OTHER Space Program
www.jpaerospace.com


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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 30, 2005 9:59 am
This is what happens when you put military cretins in charge of engineering projects, most of them wouldn't know which end of a soldering iron was hot. Military personnel are normally excluded from the management of MoD engineering projects in the UK and are allowed "user input" only (technical, safety and financial decisions are nearly always made by civilians).

What stupidity, wait years for a working vehicle and then smash it up at the first opportunity because they cant wait a couple of days then procede to damage what little could be salvaged.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 30, 2005 2:38 pm
jpowell wrote:
The resulting accident destroyed the vehicle and several people had minor injuries, cuts, road rash, a torn shoulder and three broken ribs, (yours truly on the ribs). The large dust devil that hit it took the vehicle, (or rather 3/4 of it) over three hundred feet in the air and smashed it about two hundred yards down range.


:!: :shock: :!: How long did you hang on for? My gosh, that really was dramatic! :)

jpowell wrote:
The best thing we can to is fly the vehicles on our own and show what they can do. There are two new airships under construction 50 feet behind me as I type.


Good. The best thing you folks can do is get it flying again and put that whole episode to rest.

PS: According to AD&DR, GSSL couldn't get their glider concept working, either.

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“The next generation of engineers, astronauts and scientist are not going to appear out of thin air. They need to be inspired and educated, and the best way to do that is to get them involved.” - John M. Powell


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Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:39 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
This is what happens when you put military cretins in charge of engineering projects, most of them wouldn't know which end of a soldering iron was hot.


You said it. And the galling thing is that another Space News interview(current issue) with the chief Air Farce retard--John Jumper--has him talking about 'near-space capabilities.'

Mr. Powell--I think you need to write Space News a letter to the editor relating the experience you had. As it stands, LockMart thinks they have near space all to themselves.

Thankfully Jumper will be leaving on Sept 2nd.

Not soon enough for me.


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