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Deep Space Hardware (MARS)

Posted by: rpspeck - Tue Mar 22, 2005 4:57 am
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Deep Space Hardware (MARS) 
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Post Re: Bubble Gulper   Posted on: Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:28 pm
rpspeck wrote:
We have finally obtained usable performance from our “Membrane Gas Transfer Cell”, AKA, “Bubble Gulper”.
Bubbles in the liquid unit have been a recurring problem for the space station oxygen generator. I hope you have come up with a better solution than the Russians.

rpspeck wrote:
I confess that obtaining usable performance for this unit has been more difficult, and time consuming, than expected,
Well, you know…

It always takes longer and costs more.

The first half of a project takes 90% of the time. The second half takes the other 90% of the time.

And other such sayings that every engineer knows.


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Post The Engineering $$$ Decimal Point Anomaly.   Posted on: Sat Jun 04, 2005 2:32 am
What really surprised me, when I first encountered it, was the even bigger leap from a workable “breadboard demonstrator”, usable for marketing and other evaluations and demonstrations, to a production product. (And I mean the modest volume (less than one hundred a year) production of specialty products, not high volume with major hard tooling.) I found that the “demonstrator” (90% complete?) cost had to be scaled up ten times, $1000%, to cover the TOTAL ENGINEERING COSTS. Typically only half of this was spent before beginning production of the more refined product, and the other half in fixing the design bugs revealed in real use, and the documentation, including production procedures and operating instructions. Improved test and calibration procedures, and dedicated tooling – to streamline the production in the first year– would also fall into the later half.

I have been gratified to find that this was not an anomaly in my projects. The $1 Billion spent to produce each JSF “demonstration” aircraft for the flyoff has been scaled up to $10 Billion for “production development”. Similarly, Rutan has revealed plans to increase the investment into reusable spacecraft (and scaled composites manpower) by a similar 10X factor from what went into the SpaceShipOne. Anyone who does not plan for things like this has little developmental experience.

In a really novel effort, of course, one doesn't even have a basis for making a starting guess!


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Post MARS-NOW   Posted on: Thu Sep 01, 2005 11:58 pm
See either the press release in this forum, or visit www.micro-space.com or www.Mars-Now.com for current updates on this topic.


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Post PROGRESS!!!   Posted on: Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:33 am
As noted in the news post in this forum, Micro-Space is now working with the MARS Society to test our Life support hardware in realistic circumstances. The contacts which made this cooperation possible occurred at the October MILEHIGHCON science fiction convention in Denver. This solves our problem with arranging credible human testing of our hardware, and helps make our capabilities known. Unlike the MARS Society, however, we still believe that the first human to walk on Mars will travel there solo and will do so at a surprisingly low cost.

We are making slow progress with the “zero g” electrolysis systems. (These won’t be needed on Mars, but will be needed to travel there). An electrolyte solution based unit must be very carefully constructed to keep from producing gas so deep within the solution that diffusion to the gas interface is difficult. This particular problem doesn’t occur in the fuel cell, power mode. In that case “deep electrode” surface simply receives little gas to process. In the gas generator, bubble production can become more likely than gas diffusion to the surface. A necessary step is to increase the solution pressure (with stronger cell clamping) so that diffusion is driven harder. As long as the bubble formation is limited, these can be removed by a degassing cell – one of which we have in operation. The advantage of these cells is low material cost, automatic supply of the water consumed to the cells, and liquid cooling of the waste heat.

The PEM membrane cells are another interesting option. Both the membranes and some of the compatible materials are expensive in these. The reaction zone can be easily defined and kept very close to the gas interface. Bubble formation then relates to the strength of the membrane material itself, which corresponds to quite a high pressure. However it is difficult to feed water into such a cell by humidifying the input gasses, when the relative humidity is automatically lower inside the hot cell, and what water can be fed in is constantly being consumed. Customized construction is called for, placing humidifying membranes inside the hot cell stack. Progress continues. :)

Meanwhile our water systems tests are continuing. The full size Micro-Space centrifugal water evaporator (usable in zero gravity) 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. The current test involves only the critical rotor assembly (the only moving part) and not the entire system. Since the rotor core looks like a complete success, the other components will soon be added and concurrent testing of an operational evaporator system will begin. :)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:19 pm
Hello, rpspeck,

nothing heard from you and about your projects since long - what's going on at Microspace? What has been going on since your previous post?



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


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:12 pm
Hi rpspeck,

Space.com today has a story about the new OGS that will replace the Elektron device on the ISS. It weighs 1,500 pounds and produces 12 pounds of oxygen per day. That is 125 pounds of machinery for every pound of daily oxygen production. How does your generator compare to that?


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:00 pm
SPACE.com says that is only half the system, there's another unit about the same size to recycle waste water. Over a ton equipment seems a bit excessive, I assume it has loads of redundancy and backups built into it that increase its size and weight significantly. Lets hope it proves more reliable than the elektron system.

The pictures of it show what appears to be almost a lash-up but I guess its been tested extensively already. It produces 12lbs of O2 a day which should be more than needed to supply a crew of 7 so hopefully there will be bigger crews on the ISS by the end of the year.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:11 pm
They may have crews of 3 again (it is just 2 now), but until they replace the Soyuz with a bigger escape vehicle they will still be limited to a crew of 3 by the safety rules requiring an escape vehicle large enough for the whole crew to be docked at all times.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:54 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
They may have crews of 3 again (it is just 2 now), but until they replace the Soyuz with a bigger escape vehicle they will still be limited to a crew of 3 by the safety rules requiring an escape vehicle large enough for the whole crew to be docked at all times.


Pity they havent got an extra docking port for another Soyuz or if it were possible to use the US port for cargo then they could increase the crew to 6. Perhaps they should design an adapter for the shuttle to transport to the ISS that would allow Soyuz to dock at the US port or get an extra port attached to a module on an early construction flight.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:09 pm
Nah, they're just going to wait for the CEV. By then there should be hundreds of suborbital tourists and some companies announcing future orbital systems to be developed. At least I hope so!


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Post STILL MAKING (slow) PROGRESS!   Posted on: Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:25 pm
I am working on a news update for our Oxygen and respirator systems work.


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Post Update on MARS and related hardware   Posted on: Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:17 pm
Our “Zero G Centrifugal Evaporatorâ€


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:55 am
G'day,

This effort to develop a reliable life support system is well and good but are you planning to have a storm cellar in case of solar flares on a Mars trip? I would want to take a 2-3 tonnes of food and water with me to use as a radiation shield.

ta

Ralph


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Post Re: Update on MARS and related hardware   Posted on: Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:45 pm
[quote="rpspeck"]Our “Zero G Centrifugal Evaporatorâ€


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:55 pm
While I have evaporated water in similar, nonspinning structures, and have breadboarded a radiative heater with IR temperature monitor (to avoid burning organic residue) for this system, this particular test is of the spinning hardware with the evaporation pan empty. A follow on version will be actually evaporating water and salt solutions, but I haven’t got that working with its long life pumps yet. One step at a time, and I wanted to get the spinning hardware test started as soon as possible.


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