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Airplane bias?

Posted by: Earl Colby Pottinger - Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:33 pm
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Airplane bias? 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:19 am
We seem to be drifting off the point of the discussion it seems. The original issue IMHO was the idea that ONLY Rutan was "introducing" something that advanced sub-orbital flight. My point was that Carmack's flight control software was also a significant development and should not be discounted...a development that applies to a number of current projects and something slightly innovative.

The issue surrounding the FNU that was developed for Rutan is what makes it significant? What is being "introduced" with it? Is it just an adapatation of existing technology? I don't have a lot of details on it, just what's on the website...I would like to know more to see what's making it significant. As I've mentioned, inertial navigation systems have been around for a long time. Many built by private industry, and yes, flown in space. The shuttle's inertial systems are just adaptations of existing systems...not fancy, over engineered, highly expensive, space shuttle-specific technology systems.

I'm not trying to knock the FNU system. I just wanted to make the point that Rutan isn't the only one doing something signficant. If you feel the FNU is of much greater significance than what any of the other teams are doing, then I'd like to know why? Sure, inertial systems are important (that's why they've been around so long), what is it that makes Scaled's FNU so special?

What am I overlooking here?

Thanks,


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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2003 7:57 pm
So far the FNU seems as the most complex and most sophisticated navigation unit intended for X-Prize application. I didn't mean it was the most advanced hardware developed in general, but the most advanced spacecraft instrumentation system in X-Prize contest.

The significance over Rutan/FunTechs' FNU vs. regular INS system is in it's role on the craft -a regular GPS/INS is a navigational aid, and it's instruments are mainly intended to provide 2d heading information (Altitude information is handled by atmospheric instruments) whereas the spacecraft requires different set of information and instruments. FNU also is able to autopilot the craft under non-atmospheric control laws; a regular INS might not be.

The significance in X-Prize is the head start in future development; the FNU software might not be orbit-capable, but the hardware sure seems that way. If (or hopefully, when) the next big step comes, the FNU should offer tried and proven technology for the next X-prize generation, giving either a competitive edge or a common solution.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:09 am
Hmmm...well color me skeptical. INS systems have always been operating in 3D not 2D. Thus 3-axis gymbols and/or tri Ring Laser Gyro systems. The GPS coupling allows enhancement/auto-update over the dead-reckoning system, as well as "altitude" information. Satellite's have been flying privately developed space-capable inertial systems for a while now. Now I'm not skeptical that the FNU is a pretty piece of engineering, but just skeptical that it's the ONLY example of technology being "introduced." There's a difference between innovation, and refinement of existing technology.

You ask what is the purpose of the X-prize regarding technology. As I see it, the X-prize is to make one of two (or perhaps both) statements.

1. Technology has progressed to the point where off-the-shelf technology can be used (or readily adapted) to build a space capable vehicle. This demonstrates that space access no longer requires multi-billion dollar, system-specific dedicated programs (and their bloated overhead).

2. Massive government programs are risk-adverse, limited-in-thinking exercises in over-engineered, design-by-committee systems. The x-prize offers a no-design barred approach that allows just about any conceivable idea to be tried...freeing-up innovative approaches to many of spaceflight's problems.

Thus I see the FNU as an adaptation of existing off-the-shelf technology (the rest of SS1 is a refinement of the X-15 program), whereas Carmack's attempting something innovative. Thus if Armadillo succeeds, it will "introduce" a significant NEW technology into the equation.

P.S. Oh, I just caught the adjustment about the FNU being the most advanced "instrumentation" package in an X-prize vehicle...well, with that restriction you may have something...though, while I haven't perused their site in awhile, I remember daVinci doing some advanced instrumentation work....


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 04, 2003 10:16 pm
You don't even WANT to understand the point, right?

There are NO off-the-shelf instruments for space applications. By your own words, regular systems can be adapted for space-systems... which means they are not spaceworthy off-the-shelf.

I'm not going to bang my head against a brick wall any longer. If you think building a navigation unit for space ship is a trivial task, I'm not going to disturb your daydreams further. Bye.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 2:57 am
Sorry, I guess we'll have to disagree. There are plenty of space-worthy instrumentation packages flying on numerous satellites right now. There are plenty of instrumentation packages capable of being used in space; though they may not yet have done so. And yes, instrumentation packages are being developed for use in space that address the unique concerns and issues for a particular development program (not unusual in itself). The question here is--what is innovative and unique in this instance that gives Scaled the banner of the ONLY developer of innovative technology for use beyond the X-prize flights?

I'm not syaing the FNU isn't it. It may be. But the fact that it happens to be a spaceworthy, GPS-coupled navigation unit isn't enough (by itself) to merit the innovative technology label.

"There are NO off-the-shelf instruments for space applications. By your own words, regular systems can be adapted for space-systems... which means they are not spaceworthy off-the-shelf."

Some relevant links:

http://www.littongcs.com/litpdf/Prodsheet_SIRU.pdf
http://content.honeywell.com/dses/produ ... efault.htm
http://content.honeywell.com/dses/produ ... efault.htm
http://www.nsd.es.northropgrumman.com/Navigation/#
(Click on Commercial Space Products)
http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/spa ... /gyro.html


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 11:06 am
Well, if a pre-programmable satellite black box is comparable to an integrated flight data system featuring RF telemetry downlink, navigation, ship health sensor interface and pilot display screen which include trajectory indicator, ship status and warning monitor and a moving map display in two units then I guess the FNU is no improvement over the existing systems.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 2:59 pm
"Well, if a pre-programmable satellite black box is comparable to an integrated flight data system featuring RF telemetry downlink, navigation, ship health sensor interface and pilot display screen which include trajectory indicator, ship status and warning monitor and a moving map display in two units then I guess the FNU is no improvement over the existing systems."

At last we can agree on something! I've no problem with the term improvement, just the term innovative. Also from you feature list the "black-box" systems indicated above provide all those features except perhaps a pilot display screen. But that's due to the nature of the satellite mission...Thus my earlier Space Shuttle example in an effort to show that even this feature has been addressed before (as opposed to innovative).

INS coupled, moving map display and pilot control systems have been around for at least 10 years. Check out:

http://www.ia-tech.com/miiiro/manual/tsd.html

for just one such example.

As stated before, one of the purposes of the X-prize is to demonstrate just how much "off the shelf" technology is really out there. All the necessary systems required for routine suborbital flight have been developed, tested, and flown for years. This is to show the "public" that spaceflight doesn't require multi-billion dollar NASA programs, "pushing the technological envelope" in order to succeed. All the technological elements are already there, if someone just bothered to gather them up, and put them together.

Enter the X-prize to offer just such an incentive. Yes, any new program is going to "combine" these components in a program unique architecture, but that's a far cry from "innovative." This isn't to say that Scaled isn't innovative, it is. The "shuttle-cock" concept is indeed innovative. The fact that most everything else isn't innovative actually vindicates the X-prize philosophy.

So to bring this all full-circle...yes, the FNU probably improves upon existing
technology that's been flying for years. It may even offer some new features (and those are what I'd like to know about...); however, in comparison to say Armadillo's variable rocket-controled flight control system, I'd have to say it isn't quite as innovative....mostly because integrated INS systems have been around commercially for a while, but other than a few experimental programs (see DC-X) Armadillo's effort may break new commercial ground.

All that being said, I'd consider the "shuttle-cock" concept the most innovative concept in an X-prize vehicle...even more than what Armadillo is attempting.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:00 pm
Oops! Didn't realize I wasn't logged in above. Profound apologies!


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:01 pm
Okay, have I fixed my Login problem now???


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 5:09 pm
A quad thruster idea is not new either; it's been around for a quite some time, both in practical applications and in fiction and speculative literature. However, it doesn't work on long and sleek rockets like those flying today because the rotational inertia versus momentum arm issue; the vehicle would just accelerate slower with minimal turn rate. Frankly, it seems pointless effort as there are alternative solutions to provide control. Armadillo is short and stubby, so it can use engine thrust differential with ease, however it's future as short and stubby is questionable. Also, the system is more failure-sensitive and complex than a classic setup with fewer engines on gimbals. What kind of extra value will the quad engine design bring to the vehicle?

(And just for your information, 'innovative' is not the attribute I gave to the FNU. Ever. Essential, most advanced, first to be installed, integrated; yes. Innovative no.)


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 05, 2003 5:34 pm
My bad, you are correct. Most humble apologies. The word was "introduce" no "innovative." Perhaps the same issue; though slightly less dramatic...

If you have a past commerical application of what Armadillo is doing, I think it would be interesting to compare. No doubt, Carmack as scoured the literature as well...but I know of no pre-existing, commercial, off-the-shelf, example of the technology...

If one considers scalability, then of course one must consider that the FNU wouldn't require scalability and thus may be an apples to oranges comparison. As far as overall apprach is concerned, scaling the SS1 is extremely problematic, as the White Knight would have to scale as well....Pretty soon you've got a spruce goose on your hands...


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:03 pm
Why couldn't the SS1 be lengthened or staged with a booster to increase its "scalability?" Seems like all it really needs is more room for propellent to be able to make transcontinental suborbital flights. That capability would give it true commercial (and military) viability.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:37 pm
The bigger the SS1 becomes, the bigger the White Knight must become in order to get it to it's launch altitude. The White Knight is the booster. Eliminating the White Knight for a conventional booster brings back the conventional problems that Scaled is trying to bypass.... Should Scaled be another Canadian Arrow or Starchaser?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 07, 2003 12:50 am
Scaling up the SS1 might not require a larger carrier aircraft, not at first anyway. The SS1 is winged craft, so it could lift it's own weight, placing no extra load on the mothership. However, at altitude, the effectiveness of the low-aspect wing might reduce to a point where indeed the WK would need to be largened for an acceptable launch altitude. But I think there's room for a bit of upscaling ;)


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Post    Posted on: Sun Nov 09, 2003 1:14 am
If anyone can solve the problems of scaling up the SS1, it's be Rutan..

Oh, you once asked a question:

"And what are the merits of a seaborne launch pad? Definitely not cost."

A soon to be X-prize competitor answers that question:

"Launching from sea has many advantages such as longer launch windows, lower range costs and smoother FAA/AST licensing procedures. It also reduces the risk to population centers to nearly zero."

http://www.harcspace.com/2004/liberator ... =liberator

:)


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