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MSS Q&A Thread

Posted by: jongoff - Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:59 pm
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MSS Q&A Thread 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:54 pm
The_Snoo wrote:
My second question involves assisted lift during launch. I am led to beleive that your intentions are to design a system that is completely independent of a specific launch location, but has any kind of initial lift assistance along the lines of vertical mag rails or steam catapults been considered for the XA?


Not really. For a suborbital vehicle, you really don't need "lift assistance", it adds complexity, but very little extra performance, and the money would be better spent building a better, lighter frame or better engines.

At least that's how I see it.

~Jon


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:55 pm
Hello Jon & Micheal

I was interested to hear what you had to say on the Space Show the other day about selling your engines to other people. I have a couple of questions if you dont mind.

Would this be limited to US companies because of ITAR rules or would it be possible to sell abroad?

You mentioned your 500lb rocket motor, how do you see this being used? It seems a bit big for something like a sounding rocket but to small for anything larger, does this mean that you would expect them to be used in clusters?

What do you think about the idea of a group of you getting together to sell a range of rocket equipment, I was thinking about something like an alt-space equivalent of an RS catalogue where someone could select engine, tanks avionics etc to suit their requirement. I thought such an approach might make things cheaper because in some instances there are minimum batches or production runs which would prohibit a single customer purchase but would be OK if a group of customers got together. Is this workable or is everyones requirements so different that its a no-starter?

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Post    Posted on: Thu May 10, 2007 11:05 am
It's been rather quiet around Masten lately. Has the XA0.1 flown yet?

I've heard they have to build an entirely new vehicle....an update on their blog would be welcome: it's almost 4 months since the last real status update.


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Post    Posted on: Thu May 10, 2007 2:45 pm
olafzalm wrote:
It's been rather quiet around Masten lately. Has the XA0.1 flown yet?


I'm sorry about that. I'm the one who typically does the updates, and I have been dropping the ball for a while now. As for XA-0.1, it hasn't flown yet, but we're a lot closer. I think I need to see if I can get an update together this week.

Quote:
I've heard they have to build an entirely new vehicle....an update on their blog would be welcome: it's almost 4 months since the last real status update.


Well, we do need to build a new vehicle for the lunar lander challenge (as well as envelope expansion flights after the X-Prize Cup). The good news is that several of the most complicated systems (the engines, engine computers, and ACS system) will all be identical between the two vehicles. In fact, our current plan is to literally pull the engines directly off of XA-0.1 when it's done with its flight testing regime, and put them on XA-0.2.

I'll go into things a bit more in my blog post, but the three main areas that will be new are the tanks, the airframe and the landing gear. Fortunately, those are all structural, so only the tanks really scare me from a technical standpoint.

Anyhow, thanks for pinging me, I'll try to get more details (and some videos and pictures) out soon.

~Jonathan Goff


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Post Eye Candy   Posted on: Fri May 11, 2007 6:42 pm
Sorry for not keeping up with the updates, I'll be putting one together over the next few days. But Michael put up some eye candy from our tests yesterday over on the blog, and I figured I'd let you all know.

http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=99

~Jon


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Post    Posted on: Sat May 19, 2007 2:31 am
Here's our latest engine test firing movie. We've now gotten into doing some multi-engine testing. The engine on the right has clocked over 9 minutes of firing time (including something like 25 starts) just in the past week and a half alone. Due to how busy we've been lately, the only way we're going to get time to blog much between now and our first flight is if we continue putting up short picture/movie posts like the one below. After first flight we'll put together a long post about what we've been up to, and what our plans are for the summer (and for the X-Prize Cup). But I'm sure you guys won't mind the emphasis on eye-candy too much:

http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=100

~Jonathan Goff


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Post    Posted on: Sat May 19, 2007 1:46 pm
In the latest Armadillo Aerospace update John Carmack wrote:
Quote:
Dave commented at the conference that they thought they were two weeks away from flying the vehicle, but they had thought the exact same thing back in October. Another month and a half has gone by since he said that…

So are you still two weeks away from flying the vehicle? :)


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Post    Posted on: Sat May 19, 2007 5:53 pm
Soyuz wrote:
So are you still two weeks away from flying the vehicle? :)


Ask me again in two weeks. ;-)

We're trying to be careful about giving out specific dates seeing as how this is still a development program, and it's hard to really tell when something will actually be 100% done very far in advance.

While I can't give a specific date, I can say that we're down to just three tasks before we fly:

1.We've got to get some replacement parts in and weld them onto engines #3 and 4 (we had some parts made that turned out to have defective aluminum brazes that we've decided to replace with welded parts).

2. We've got to then reassemble and requalify those engines and do some 3 and 4 engine hold-down tests.

3. Last, we have to bolt the ACS system in (that's now been debugged), and make sure all the wiring on the vehicle is good.

So when we fly entirely depends on what if any bugs we catch in the process, and how long it takes to fix them. The good news is that while John talks about how we need to build a whole new vehicle before X-Prize Cup, most of this debugging work will directly apply to our next vehicle as well. We're planning on reusing our engines, computers, and many other subsystems, so we would've had to have debugged them anyway, so even though XA-0.1 is taking longer to get off the ground than we ever expected, we're still making good progress towards having a LLC capable vehicle ready in time for October.

In fact, we're close enough to getting XA-0.1 flying, and there are few enough tasks left (many of which depend on getting parts in from others) that most of us have started splitting our time working on getting our next vehicle built. But more details will follow once we get this thing in the air.

~Jon


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Post "Two weeks"   Posted on: Mon May 21, 2007 3:56 pm
The "two weeks" bit is especially amusing for me, because that used to be a catch phrase at Id Software -- whenever anyone was asked how long something moderately challenging would take, the answer always seemed to be "two weeks". At first, it was an honest (but wrong) assesment, because when you are working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, it seems like you should be able to get anything done in two weeks. Later, after it has been shown to be laughably wrong, it became sort of a joke. Whenever someone asked for a timeline, the anwer would be instantly "two weeks!" with a grin.

Good luck.

John Carmack


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Post Has there been a change in vehicle?   Posted on: Thu May 31, 2007 7:41 pm
Have you already finished 0.1? and a re working on 0.2 because there seems to be a difference between http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=83 and http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=99

is there something I am missing or is it the same vehicle?

about the double posts, i got some error, tried three times gave up, when i came back all my posts were here...


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:31 pm
What sort of tiles are you using for the deflectors...looks like it needs a rebuild after that last (hinge movement) video.

BTW. Magnificent video's...I watch over and over again.


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Post Re: Has there been a change in vehicle?   Posted on: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:03 am
Hopeful wrote:
Have you already finished 0.1? and a re working on 0.2 because there seems to be a difference between http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=83 and http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=99

is there something I am missing or is it the same vehicle?


Those are both the same vehicle, but as you noticed there have been a large number of changes and improvements we've made along the way. Some of them had to do with fire-proofing, and some of them had to do with simplifying the pressurization system. We've also made some substantial improvements to the engine modules.

As for XA-0.2, we should have a lot of the structural pieces in and assembled in the near future. But it'll be a while before all the major components (tanks, landing gear, etc) are all in and integrated. Hopefully soon enough that we can have enough practice under our belts to make a good showing at the X-Prize Cup in October.

~Jon


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:09 am
olafzalm wrote:
What sort of tiles are you using for the deflectors...looks like it needs a rebuild after that last (hinge movement) video.

BTW. Magnificent video's...I watch over and over again.


Thanks! The tiles are just $1 pavers from Home Depot. The frames are just some welded steel. That blast deflector that got damaged had had over a minute worth of firings on it by the time it burned through. It'll probably cost us $20 or so to repair the thing. In the future it looks like we'll be doing more hinged firings, as it appears that might distribute the damage to the blast deflector more evenly.

~Jon


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:35 pm
Quote:
Thanks! The tiles are just $1 pavers from Home Depot. The frames are just some welded steel. That blast deflector that got damaged had had over a minute worth of firings on it by the time it burned through. It'll probably cost us $20 or so to repair the thing. In the future it looks like we'll be doing more hinged firings, as it appears that might distribute the damage to the blast deflector more evenly.

~Jon


Actually, the deflector that was destroyed by the gimbal test had more like 4-5 minutes of rocket ON time eating away it. They are easy enough to repair that it doesnt really matter.

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Post MSS Starts Flight Tests   Posted on: Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:53 pm
Hey guys,
Wanted to let you know that we started flight testing XA-0.1 this past week:
http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=114

We haven't yet reached stable flight (mostly due to startup transients), but we should hopefully be there soon. If you have any questions, post away.

~Jon


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