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News Updates

Posted by: rpspeck - Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:03 pm
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Post News Updates   Posted on: Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:03 pm
Micro Space will post developmental updates in this forum, rather than attempt to squeeze them into the hyperbole, hype (and occasionally honest) postings on the main board.

Micro-Space WILL NOT be conducting scheduled suborbital passenger flights in 2006. Those promising, without a single manned or unmanned flight, to leapfrog Scaled Composites and provide these flights will be interesting to watch (for noninvestors!)


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Post Three more flights   Posted on: Thu Jun 02, 2005 12:19 am
The weekend of May 27, 28, 29 the Micro-Space team launched three more of our liquid fuel rocket systems. Again, good, sustained thrust was produced by the liquid fuel sustainer cores, and long, stable flights were obtained. This brings to 15 the total number of flights of this liquid fuel system (plus two flights without the liquid fuel motor running, to generate aerodynamic test data.)

A total of six have now been flown with the latest motor configuration, and promise – as previously suggested – the reliability required for clustered flights.

The three flights had minor systems differences, and provided more information about the range of performance obtainable. More aerodynamically refined vehicles were not ready for this flight opportunity, so the performance was close to that obtained in Sept. 2004, with a maximum altitude close to 2 miles.(10,500 ft.) Data reduction has not yet been completed, particularly from the onboard data logging computers.

Excellent telemetry data was captured for all three flights, with a significant upgrade to the tuning, and radiation efficiency for the transmitter units. There is no question that this low power unit will suffice for flights beyond 100,000 ft. Higher power transmitters and better ground antennas have previously been developed for much higher altitude flights. But it is important to perfect long range communication with low power, if the interplanetary distances predicted for medium power transmitters are to be achieved.

The present launch system is a good test bed for vertical or horizontal flights, at high subsonic speed, lasting 30 seconds or more. We will use it as such to perfect guidance systems. Our previous guided rockets used much shorter burn time solid propellant motors.

The recent successful flights occurred in a range of conditions ranging from good, to very bad. Accurate radio tracking permitted recovery of the highest flight in darkness. The last flight was achieved with high and variable wind speed, yet produced a near vertical path.
The challenging wind and dust conditions are challenging our launch systems, with several subsystem failures. After 5 years of use, more than 21 days of field operation in desert, wind and dust, and 17,000 highway miles, the system is ready for significant refurbishing. A higher level of system redundancy will be included in the upgrades.



The continuing Micro-Space flights sustain our position in the top tier of space launch developers, on the basic of operational experience flying complex, liquid fueled rockets.

Micro-Space, however, faces a strategic decision point. Our demonstrated technology promises:

1. Customized – yet competitively priced - manned spaceflight. A user could achieve a record breaking, “Space Dive” with parachute for the price of a tourist ride.

2. Guided, miniature “weather probes” to systematically study violent storms.

3. Compact, transportable sounding rockets for atmospheric research.

4. Orbital systems for manned and unmanned use including rendezvous and docking.

5. The efficient Life Support systems for deep space missions now being developed.

Potential customers for any of these are invited to respond by public or private message.
In the absence of such feedback, we will select our focus by an unscientific method.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 02, 2005 4:54 pm
Were the test flights at Black Rock Desert or somewhere else? Are there any photos of the flights? Thanks.


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Post MARS-NOW **** An Affordable Proposal   Posted on: Thu Sep 01, 2005 11:35 pm
Micro-Space hardware for Mars Missions was demonstrated at the “New Mexico Science Fiction Conference” (aka “Bubonicon”), Aug. 27, 2005. A presentation by Richard P. Speck, head of Micro-Space, laid out the parameters for a lightweight and low cost manned trip to Mars. This talk was well attended and well received. It was noted that size matters, and that two petit women could travel for the same cost as one average man. Procedures which optimize the use of “gravity well synergism”, will allow the Falcon 5 (with 6020 Kg payload in LEO) to deliver 1800 Kg to the surface of Mars. The estimated cost for this mission is well below the $100 Million dollars used as a working budget figure. Estimated costs and system masses are decreasing, as solutions are found to the remaining problems. Historically, costs increase late in such projects, but with this mission requiring only a single, $16 Million launch vehicle, the working budget has substantial slack.

In any case, this mission could be funded as a “Big Budget”, “Docutainment” movie (plus three years of reality programs), as a commercial “Mars Sample Return” venture, with collected materials presold or auctioned, or as a personal adventure. The small quantity of hardware which still needs to be developed makes embarkation for this 970 day, round trip mission in 2009 a real possibility.

The proposed mission lands only a fraction of the payload on Mars, using orbital rendezvous to minimize mission mass. At present, two stage orbital rendezvous is under consideration. This preserves near Mars escape energy in the Earth return vehicle, while parking fuel for high orbit transfer in low Mars orbit. The ascent stage used by the astronaut after walking on Mars would be a lightweight version of those used by Apollo on the Moon.

Known health risks, including radiation, are serious but comparable to those faced by inveterate high altitude mountaineers, or those “who choose to enjoy smoking”. Unknown risks, of course, place this in the same category as historic pioneering and polar exploration.

The demonstrated hardware included a fuel cell, capable of producing the 640 grams per day of Oxygen needed on average by the astronaut (or petit pair). Such fuel cells, when used in appropriate systems, work perfectly in zero “g”. The equations for efficient life support recycling were presented. A zero “g” centrifugal evaporator was run. This completes water recycling, by separating even biological waste water from its dissolved solids. The distilled water which results is “as pure as rain” since the identical cycle occurs continuously on the Earth. Handling only a drop every second or two, this “zero g” distillation system would eliminate several kilograms per day of supplies, leaving only 500 gram per day of food required.

A commercial “Reverse Osmosis” filter unit was shown which would provide virtually unlimited wash water. It was demonstrated with the small, long life pumps which will permit operation in a concentrator mode. A sample of the composite material Micro-Space uses for fuel tanks was also shown. A larger diameter version will yield a 2 meter diameter, 3 meter long habitat weighing only 20 kilograms. This structure could have an overpressure safety margin of ten.

The centrifugal evaporator is being run continuously and has accumulated hundreds of hours. Multiyear operating life is expected to be demonstrated. With only 3.5 kilogram total mass for the demonstrated collection of hardware, redundant spare hardware is very practical.

The presentation slides can be accessed through www.micro-space.com (select news) or directly through www.Mars-Now.com .


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Post Micro-Space Report on Sept. 2005 Launch   Posted on: Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:38 am
Micro-Space made modest progress Sept. 18, 2005, launching our 16th liquid fuel rocket at the Black Rock Desert. This was a good flight, straight up with normal parachute recovery. A procedural error, however, reduced the sustainer motor thrust and produced a flight comparable to our 2003 efforts, rather than the better results of the four recent flights.

This flight did, however, have a bidirectional radio link, with a rocket control radio channel in addition to our normal telemetry channel. Simultaneous, non-interfering radio transmission and reception is understandably difficult, but has been achieved with this and other Micro-Space radio systems. Control modes were not implemented for this flight, but operational data was collected.

Another disappointment is that a liquid fuel sustainer designed for higher thrust failed to develop full power when ignited, Sept 17, and this flight was terminated on the pad. Since our system uses full power run-up before commitment to flight, this rocket was preserved and refueled for the flight the next day. Static tests will be run to perfect the high thrust modifications before further flight efforts with this motor version.


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Post Micro-Space Life Support for MARS Society. Dec. 12, 2005   Posted on: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:30 pm
Micro-Space is working with the MARS Society to produce life support systems for testing in their Habitat. Extended human experience will prove that compact, efficient and effective systems are available for their proposed expeditions, and that affordable missions to that planet, with modest consumables, are already practical. The first tested systems will be oxygen generators and respiratory gas processors. Later, Carbon Dioxide reprocessing will be added, and highly efficient water processing. These will effectively zero the non-food consumables for manned planetary and space missions. Food alone can weigh less than 400 pounds per person, per year. A solo, roundtrip Mars mission can make do with 1000 pounds of supplies!

Dr. Tony Muscatello, of Pioneer Astronautics and the MARS Society, is coordinating this work with Micro-Space. The MARS Society is understandably focused on serious, scientific expeditions. However, the first Life Support demonstration systems will be directly applicable to solo pioneering missions to Mars, or its moons, if these should occur.

The full size Micro-Space centrifugal water evaporator has now been running 2500 hours in accelerated life tests at 14 times its planned speed. Its demonstrated rotational life already exceeds that needed for a Mars mission, although elapsed time is only 11% of that requirement. This unit will complete the processing of bio-wastes, separating dissolved solids from pure distilled water, the same way that it happens on the Earth. This system alone will recapture water which would otherwise add thousands of pounds per person to trip consumables.


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Post X-Prize Cup Participant   Posted on: Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:38 pm
Oct. 16, 2006

Micro-Space is an active participant in the X-Prize Cup Lunar Lander challenge. Our efforts preparing vehicles for this week’s events have limited us to little news or Web Site updates this summer, but the vehicles are ready for Level 1 competition. Like others, we do not now have an FAA flight permit, and may be restricted to a static display this year. As it is impossible for all the prizes to be won this year, Micro-Space plans to prepare to fly in the level 2 (180 second) competition next year. Our present vehicle links four of our 4â€


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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:04 am
Hello, rpspeck,

do you simply have the permit yet and might get it during the next days or has it been refused already?



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post X-Prize Cup 2006   Posted on: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:00 pm
Micro-Space Press Release 10/23/2006

Micro-Space was not able to complete the FAA flight permit process in time for the 2006 X-Prize Cup event, nor were we able to get FAA permission to conduct a tethered flight demonstration at this event. The FAA permission would probably not be needed for tethered operation if this were not an FAA licensed “Air Showâ€


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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:10 am
Helo, rpspeck,

this sounds like a very interesting and good prospect for next year's Lunar Langer Challenge.

But especially it sounds like a very positive prospect for Microspace and its future.

Very very positive and delighting news.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:34 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
this sounds like a very interesting and good prospect for next year's Lunar Langer Challenge.


Am I right in thinking that teams have the option of submitting a request to try for a challenge at any time and as such do not necessarily have to wait for the next X-prize cup?

I thought they only had to give so many days notice of an attempt, can anyone clarify?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:37 pm
I'm pretty sure it is a Xprize Cup only event and prize. They have to waite 1 year to get a chance to win the prize.


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Post One Year Delay   Posted on: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:14 pm
This contest is run only at the X-Prize Cup, so all of us (and other entrants) have to wait until next year. The lead in preperation and FAA licensing Armadillo enjoyed has evaporated - eliminated in part with their FAA permit received only on the day before the event. This allowed Armadillo only one flawed practice flight (without a tether) before the event.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 30, 2006 1:43 pm
Hello, rpspeck,

I had a look to your website because I assumed to find your Lunar Lander there.

What I saw I find very interesting - the nozzles on top like ARCA's Stabilo and optically looking futuristic. Am I right that just below the nozzels the tanks are? If yes then the lander seems to need very few propellant really - a lot less than Armadillo Aerospace's lander.

What you say about using the vehicle as one landing an astronaut reminds me to SpaceDev who have been talking about a spaceseat months ago.



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Post Lunar Lander FOR REAL!   Posted on: Wed Nov 01, 2006 2:56 am
Our vehicle is very lightweight: less than 50 pounds empty weight. Doubling our fuel load from 150 pounds to 300 pounds only adds 6 pounds weight, because our fuel tanks are very light (something we have spent years to attain, since this is a critical accomplishment for serious work). The required 25 kg payload weighs more than this. We have successfully flown gimbaled motor vehicles before, and flown lots of liquid fuel rockets with these motors. We are not getting the full potential fuel performance at the show (unlike Armadillo) since we are required to use a dilute H2O2 Oxidizer (and they use standard LOX). But high test peroxide fuels match the performance of other storable propellants.

Our low empty weight and high mass ratio produce something very exciting. It is no secret that 300 pounds of good quality propellant (which ours can hold) can take 300 pounds of dry mass to the surface of the Moon, or back to lunar orbit. If only 50 pounds is vehicle empty weight, the 250 pounds remaining can be an astronaut in his spacesuit! Thus ours is a FULL SCALE MANNED LUNAR LANDER!

In addition, only 1200 pounds in lunar orbit (including the astronaut) is required to take an astronaut to the surface, and bring him back when ready. (This actually uses two identical lander vehicles: the first one down carries the fuel necessary to bring the astronaut back up.) Working backward, as little as 5000 pounds in LEO can take a man to the surface of the Moon and back. I plan to leave getting 5000 or 10,000 pounds in LEO to SpaceX for now and concentrate of the far smaller and lighter craft for going beyond. I estimate $20 Million (the Russian price to ISS) for a ticket to walk on the Moon! (90% of this money will go to SpaceX)


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