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Is the N-Prize Actually Achievable?

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:27 pm
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Is the N-Prize Actually Achievable? 

Do you believe that the N-Prize is achievable?
Yes 65%  65%  [ 17 ]
No 35%  35%  [ 9 ]
Total votes : 26

Is the N-Prize Actually Achievable? 
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Space Walker
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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:17 pm
Achievable? I feel 90% certain it is. Worth trying? 100% certain.

A serious try is worth more than the prize money.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:33 pm
99.999999999999999999999999999999% certain on both counts.

~Sage
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Post N-Prize   Posted on: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:52 pm
Two answers, a lot of creative accounting and a good bit of legal wrangling.

Outside of the legal issues, the reusable prize is definitely possible, but the non-reusable may be requiring cheaper access to modern materials than is possible today, unless someone builds 1000 cheap rockets and can avail themselves of the economies of scale.

The legal issue is a daunting one especially for a non-reusable rocket. A successful entry will need to cut costs and weight to the bone and that will remove most of the ability for redundancies and safety features that the legal bodies will require before allowing launch.

Now on to creative accounting and the cost of personal labor…

What do supplies cost? Fuels and oxidizers are necessary costs no matter which challenge you are going for and in my case, the oxidizer H2O2 is my major expense. So what does it cost? HTP Peroxide is both expensive and hard to obtain in the US, but 30% Peroxide is common and reasonably cheap. Equipment to low pressure distill the H2O2 are available so anyone with access to one will have a significant advantage over other teams. A similar strategy is possible with many other items such as ovens for CF construction or metalworking tools for making other parts.

Is all this unfair? Not really, it’s all ground support and as long as the path is laid out after completion then anyone can follow down the same path. I can’t believe anyone expected the entire process to be completed for £1000. There will be trials and failures. Those with more prep will succeed and those without will fail. Having the right tools will make all the difference.

Down deep I think they are both possible.

MisterQED
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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:20 pm
Indeed QED, both are possible and achievable.

I would like to also point out that drawing conclusions, given a set of approaches or knowledge which one does not have visibility into, is not generally reasonable. While someone may be able to draw a personal estimate based on their own thoughts or approach, such could be akin estimating the distance to the moon if they think it resides in our atmosphere. A particular approach must be estimated on its particularities, and if such an approach is not outwardly known then such an evaluation is not generally meaningful.

~Sage
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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:13 am
At the same time, the N-Prize was set up by a biologist, no?

His argument was, and I'm horribly paraphrasing it, that you don't need to have experience in something, to make something possible that those with experience, have been unable to achieve, because your unrelated knowledgebase, may give you a new insight that everyone else just missed.

(Apologies to Dr. Dear if I misrepresent him here)


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Post Re: N-Prize   Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:15 am
MisterQED wrote:
Outside of the legal issues, the reusable prize is definitely possible,

How many stages? What are the masses of the stages? What MR, what ISP, what propellants? What for heat shielding on the second through last stages? Are all stages reusable, or is the second or penultimate disposable?


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Post Non-reusable N-Prize Rocket   Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:24 pm
I don’t have many details yet, but best guess at this stage:

//How many stages?// Two, as a Rockeloon. Zero pressure balloon lift to >40km, then light a gimbaled 750 psi pump fed air motor driven H2O2/RP1 rocket ignites, initial push by twin sugar SRBs.

Guidance is all solid state optical and magnetic. Entire rocket and balloon are disposable. Satellite is white tetrahedron inflated with tubes at the edges. Orbital validation is by optically detecting reflected light.

MisterQED
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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:48 pm
mylodon:

That's largely correct, and although it's not a perfect truism, it's also inherent in what I said. Knowledge takes many forms, as can approaches to problems. For instance, the Wright brothers are a good example of people who had obviously limited experience relative to any existing art, but used their particular understandings of machines and technologies to find new insights into powered flight. They not only gained direct experience from empirical study, but applied novel and sound engineering principles to a topic of study that most though infeasible.

This does not mean that just anyone is going to send a rocket into orbit. It does means that proper experience, knowledge, drive, and determination when not poisoned by the dogma of a particular group is beneficial to progress. Sometimes those outside of the field will have a unique approach to a problem that would not be considered by those inside it, and other times renegades from inside the field find such approaches.

The basic concept is that the "status quo" or "popular beliefs" are often wrong; such examples are widespread throughout history from those who somehow thought something "couldn't" be done -- these people have been consistently met with the humiliation of being wrong, time and time again, mainly because of their own ignorance and arrogance.

~Sage
http://littlemonsterrocket.webnode.com/


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:01 pm
Ben:

These (and many other) questions will be answered by Team LMR as we disclose more of our selected approach. Note that there is a fine line in this competition between disclosure and over-disclosure.

We do have some general information on our FAQ at the LMR website; but we have excluded specific details. This exclusion is not because we don't have the details, it's because we've opted not to release them at this point.

The fact is, we want to be the first to do it.

~Sage
http://littlemonsterrocket.webnode.com/


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:04 pm
MisterQED, i havent seen any mention of a Team Daedalus, are you registered yet and waiting to be added to the site? or are you pre-registration?


Rob

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Post Team Daedalus   Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:51 pm
I've been so busy, I haven't had a chance to ask Paul. Yes, I have sent in the forms, but Paul hasn't done an official announcement. Doesn't matter though, I've been in this since before the site was created. What really matters are results, so entry really happens with a good engine test or some other milestone.

MisterQED
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Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:08 pm
It is impossible to do that cheaply. Possibly some rich person could donate lots of materials and lots of people could do work for no charge, and the cash paid by the team doing the launch would be low enough, but that is just hiding the true cost, not doing it cheaply.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:52 pm
Not impossible. Just nearly impossible, as said in the n-prize site.
It's a challenge, not supposed to be easy.

Also, note the careful limitations on the things that count as costs and that insurance, regulations, wages etc don't.

What is certain is that it's worth trying. Less than about $1900 (Microlauncher entry value) for a tiny satellite is possible and worth striving for.

The original projection for a 100-200 gram starting level escape velocity Microlauncher spacecraft was and still is about $10,000 US, accounted in a similar way. The hardware can be made that simple, in the same ways that made the first microcomputers cost a fraction of the computers of the day.


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Post Re: Is the N-Prize Actually Achievable?   Posted on: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:42 pm
So, Sage. A lot of big talk here, but no updates to your blog in nearly nine months, and the deadline is this year. Has the 99.999999999999999999999999999999% certainty that it's worth trying abated somewhat?


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Post Re: Is the N-Prize Actually Achievable?   Posted on: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:12 pm
It's interesting that the two N-Prize polls have about the same percentage of people voting No. This poll asks whether the N-Prize ia achievable, and I voted Yes. The other poll asks whether it will be won, and I voted No on that. Did most people vote the same way for both polls? That doesn't make sense. They're asking different questions.


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