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Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details

Posted by: stew_lilley - Mon May 16, 2011 1:59 am
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Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details 
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Post Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Mon May 16, 2011 1:59 am
NSE-6 (Near Space Expedition 6)

Ok, I have been authorized to release the details of the upcoming NSE-6 and SE-1 missions. Team Prometheus has had 5 previous balloon launch attempts and 4 successes, so this mission will be NSE-6. We have an off-the-shelf large latex weather balloon and the helium to fill it. The mission is to test the avionics payload and high altitude ignition of the BPN-based pyrogen formula for both motor ignition and parachute deployment.

Rocket: 2.25" airframe US Rockets Interroc w/ single use G motor
Avionics Payloads:

-BigRedBee high power 2M BeeLine GPS tracker for APRS (modified with custom daughterboard for motor ignition at 80,000 feet GPS altitude)
-Raven2 accelerometer/barometric altimeter, used for recovery deployment
-GoPro hi-def digital video camera
-Backup standard-def gumstick video camera
-2000 mAh 3-cell Li-Po battery
-5V DC-DC switching power supply

The rocket is complete and all the electronics have been acquired. Right now the avionics bay is being fabricated and test batches of the BPN propellant are being prepared and tested.

The other major sub-project is the thermal vacuum chamber, which will allow pre-flight testing and simulation of the near-space environment and thermal loads. The vacuum chamber is built and can currently achieve 29" of vacuum but none of the electronics have been tested in it yet.

When everything has been assembled and tested, we plan to conduct at least one ground launch test of the whole avionics package before lofting it to altitude on the balloon. We tentatively plan to do this within the next two weeks, although depending on the AARG launch schedule we might do it at the club launch instead. The balloon launch will depend on weather and will follow as closely as possible thereafter. We will announce the launch in advance so everyone on the internet can follow the tracking telemetry live via APRS at aprs.fi and findu.com. We also plan to have a live blog going during the mission to follow the launch, tracking, and recovery.

Monroe is currently in south Texas at the Matagorda launch site making preparations for the follow-on SE-1 mission. As soon as he gets back we will be posting YouTube videos of the hardware and vacuum chamber tests as they happen.

SE-1 Mission (Space Expedition 1)

This mission will use all the same electronics tested and validated on the NSE-6 mission, but on a much higher performance launch vehicle. We have a 170,000 cubic foot commercial zero-pressure balloon to lift the rocket. Our candidate launch vehicle is a carbon fiber minimum diameter N to N 2-stage rocket. Launched from 100,000 feet on the balloon, we expect that the vehicle will cross the 100km barrier into space and should win the Carmack prize. Depending on the exact performance details, it might be possible to exceed the amateur altitude record achieved in 2004 by the CSXT/GoFast rocket on this mission.

This will be a coastal launch from the Matagorda peninsula launch site on the Texas coast. We have the boats and some of the infrastructure needed for the mission already. We will post more details as they become available.

Stew

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Mon May 16, 2011 6:37 am
Great Work!!

Good luck and keep us posted on everything :)

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Mon May 16, 2011 7:04 pm
Nice work Stew! Im replying from my cell phone at Matagorda. Keep up the good work. We have aquired a chase aircraft for the SE-1 mission. Slated for Agust, will be bach up there in a day or two. Go Team!

Monroe

P.S. Thanks Rob! Looks like we are a go!

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Tue May 17, 2011 4:45 pm
Stew and Monroe,

It's good to hear you're ready for another mission. AARG normally has club launches on the first Saturday of the month. However, I believe thay have suspended launches until the burn bans are lifted.

I would be interested in seeing the ground test of your 2-stage N-to-N rocket. When do you think you'll do that? You may want to schedule the N-to-N ground test at LDRS in Argonia, Kansas. It will be held during the first week in September. You will need to be TRA level 3 certified to launch there, but there's enough time to get certified by then.

Stew, can you provide more details about the electronics for the balloon portion of NSE-6. Will you have a live video feed? Are you guys still planning on using a quadcopter suspended from the balloon as your launch platform?

Dave


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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Thu May 19, 2011 10:06 pm
NSE-6 has nothing on the balloon side just a Z type launch rod. All the goodies are in the rocket. We may launch a digipeater on a second balloon to help locate and reduce drop outs depends on if the Open Tracker II can be set up in time or not. Got stuff coming from Argent Data Systems.
Balls in September would be where we do a N-N launch if we did one with any other group, but that's way past our projected test. I intend to file the waiver for the Space Shot June 1st no if and's or but's this is it. We have the funding this time and we are going all the way. After that what happens I just don't have time to think about.
The N-N test will be from Matagorda from our launch site. I sold the property in Cali and we are Texas based from now on.
Team Prometheus is a non-profit I'm the captain and the way it's set up I will be until I die or step down. I carry the full responsibility and liability for the team that way if anything goes wrong It's my neck on the line not my teammates. That means I have the last say as well.
Of course I take advice from everyone on and off the team and encourage outside the box thinking. But if I don't like it we wont be doing it. That's how every team I've been on works. My team has faith today, dfwi.

Monroe

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 3:02 pm
It sounds like you have a plan, or at least an idea of what you want to accomplish. Have you planned missions between NSE-6 and the space launch? It seems like there are a lot of components to test between a G-rocket launch from a non-instrumented weather balloon and a 2-stage N-N space launch from a large zero-pressure balloon.


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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 3:41 pm
That's a good question. All the avionics will be tested that are going into the space shot on NSE-6. If the tracking system the cameras and the recovery system work as planed they should work exactly the same way on the space shot.
Last night we ran the first test on the altimeter for the recovery system in the vacuum chamber and it worked! It did get hotter than we thought it would so we need more heat dissipation than we thought. We are working on a heatsink today.
The trackers and altimeters will be redundant in the space shot that's the only change we are making to the avionics for the space shot.
The av-bay for the space shot will be larger because of that and the heat dissipation will be different, so more testing will need to be done. Should be fairly simple to solve those issues.
The staging on the space shot is handled by the accelerometers in the altimeter. The ground test of the N-N will be the test that insures we get staging.
So right after NSE-6 we ground test the N-N just like we are doing the rockoon launch now. Then we are ready for the space shot soon after.
So after a successful rockoon launch I file the waver with the FAA using the same process we just used for the rockoon.
That needs to be by June 1st so we have 11 days to complete NSE-6 as stated.

Monroe

The only change I'm looking at might be a two stage ground launch with the same rocket we are using for NSE-6 before the N-N using a single set of avionics. We have a back-up rockoon we could use for that and use the same av-bay we recover from NSE-6.

Lol, I did burn my thumb last night testing some of the BPN igniters for the vacuum chamber, I was trying a control outside the chamber. A LOT of HOT fire. I'll be more careful, lol.

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 5:27 pm
I must be missing something. For the space shot you'll need a way to verify that all systems are go before you light the 2-stage N-N rocket. You need to determine that it's pointing in the right direction, the recovery electronics is armed and ready, and so on. If everything is not correct you would need to abort the mission, and try it again after correcting the issues.

This would require a two-way link to the balloon, and a fail-safe that would abort if the link is lost. It seems like you would also want live video from the balloon to check it visually. None of that will be tested in NSE-6. Also, you will need redundant cut-downs for the zero-pressure balloon. Since it is not designed to burst like a weather balloon you will end up with a rogue balloon that could be adrift for days if you don't deflate it.


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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 6:12 pm
Nope, I did not include any of the payload for the balloon for the space shot. What's on the balloon is independent of the rocket. The rocket has all the needed systems for determining conditions for launch in it's avionics.
This rockoon will test what's going to be on the space shot. We don't need anything you mentioned except the cutdown for the balloon and of course we have that covered.
The space shot needs no abort it wont be able to reach land from our launch site in the Gulf. Weather is the only concern and that gets plotted prior to the launch.
The FAA does not care about live video, their main concern is the dispersion analysis.
Our main concern is GPS data and video. Don't sweat the small stuff Dave we got it covered.

Monroe

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 6:43 pm
One other thing I'll mention. There really is no completely fail-safe Rocket, Balloon or Space Shot.
The FAA considers the worst case scenario (let you imagination run wild lol!) and in reality we need enough insurance to cover that. Hence out Gulf launch to get as far away from everything we can (within reason) Where are you getting all that "you have to have" stuff from? It's got to be off the top of your head and not from the FAA. All I can say.

Monroe

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 8:55 pm
Monroe, my suggestions are based on how I would do it, and have nothing to do with the FAA. The FAA doesn't care whether the rocket ends up thrusting straight down to the gulf. They just want to minimize the possibility of it hitting someone or something. I would guess they are probably requiring that you be at least 50 miles away from the coast, and the insurance needs to cover something like an accidental collision with a ship in the gulf.

My suggestions for providing abort capability are to handle cases where something goes wrong with the alignment, ignition or something else. It just makes common sense to provide redundant systems for a successful launch, but also provide ways to recover if something goes wrong.


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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Fri May 20, 2011 10:42 pm
Well, we could add a bay and carry a mouse to space too! :) There's not much time left to make major changes to the flight plan. The stuff we are flying on the balloon is for the most part irrelevant. It's not like we are going to forget to cutdown the balloon or anything like that Dave. This discussion covers the major points not all the little details. I'm not going into a how to do your own space shot in this thread.

Monroe

Questions asked and answered please rather than blatant attacks. We have our flight plan. You can do your thing on your dime. You want to know how we are doing things that's fine if you ask questions.

Personally I'd rather do a lot of things but cost and time are the controlling factors unless you want to contribute follow our flight plan. We are working with what we have not with what we want.

Suggestions especially from X-Team members should respect our flight plan rather than just say you need this or that without knowing whats going on first as I've said before that's counter productive.

We are the one's doing the space shot remember that. If you don't respect that I or other team member's wont respond further.

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Sun May 22, 2011 3:44 pm
Monroe, I'm just making suggestions that would improve your chances of success. I don't understand your defensiveness against my suggestions. You can ignore my suggestions, or you maybe you can gain from them. As you said, you're the captain of Prometheus, and the group will do whatever you decide.

To me, it seems like a huge risk to fly the 2-stage N-N rocket without doing a lot of tests in between. Look at other groups that have been successful, and you'll see that they did a lot of test missions, and increased the level of difficultly with each mission.

Since the N-Prize is no longer an issue, the only time pressure you're under is to win the Carmack prize before someone else claims it. You could do that with a much smaller single-stage rocket. Once you win the Carmack prize you could increase the complexity of your missions until you can achieve a sub-orbital space flight.


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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Sun May 22, 2011 7:34 pm
I think doing a big 2 stage launch from a balloon is a little silly before doing a 1 stage, but it's not like it really matters that much. imo the biggest concern with any sort of test is whether or not there's a risk of losing data if something goes wrong. this is especially true of a balloon launch where you can't take video of the thing getting lit off. that being said, if you can do the bigger test, you probably should provided that there are mechanisms in place to find out the cause of a failure. it's not like we're talking about a mission that costs thousands of dollars here. what, the biggest expense is the big ass balloon right? i know you bought your N's which whatever, overpriced but not a huge deal.

i have a lot of respect for prometheus precisely because of these hairbrained over-achieving mission attempts.

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Post Re: Team Prometheus NSE-6 Mission Details   Posted on: Sun May 22, 2011 8:11 pm
The rockoon we are launching is a single stage test right? lol! With the avionics for the two stage space shot. If that works and the two stage ground launch works, I don't see the reason not to go for it.
Nope the fuel for the boats and the airplane alone cost more than the rocket that's true. The mission control on Matagorda was not trivial. The antennas and the dredging of the port so our inboard could get in there?
Getting things to Matagorda takes a barge and a crane. We have spent a lot of money on this effort over the last 2 months and we are not done spending it yet! We will be stretching the funding we got to the limit just doing this much. Are you thinking about the insurance yet?
The funding we have might make it IF everything goes well. If we have to do more testing I can tell you it wont. We get one shot at this that's it!

Monroe

No Pressure, right?

Elliot, you made a difference in part due to your contribution I was able to land more funding it kept the doors open just long enough. Thanks! I expect to see you at the launch and we are going to need you.

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