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N-Prize Team 'Anahera Tere' Talk to the Space Fellowship

Published by Rob Goldsmith on Fri Jan 1, 2009 1:00 pm
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2009 was another positive year for the N-Prize and just as we thought the year would end with 22 teams the 23rd registered. The Space Fellowship spoke with the new team, first and foremost who are they?  The Teams name is Team Anahera Tere. ‘Te Anahera Tere’ translates from Maori to ‘The Angel Express’. The team say they heard of the N-Prize on The Space Show.

Describing the chosen design the Space Fellowship can reveal that team 23 will use “a gun launch first stage with a liquid second stage. The satellite is likely to be a tiny little transmitter of some sort, although two alternate designs are in place“. Discussing where the launch will take place the Space Fellowship was told “The current plan is to launch from the North of New Zealand, probably near Te Tii. Long term however launches might migrate to Samoa or Fiji if not prohibited by cost or regulation“.

Anahera Tere Team Logo

Anahera Tere Team Logo

With regards to current progress they explained “The team members have a lot of experience with extremely innovative and radical engineering across a wide range of industries and technologies. No one here has worked professionally on orbital rockets because the space industry is very nascent in New Zealand. My background is in systems engineering. The price barrier set by the N-Prize can’t be beaten with a single innovation or engineering trick, the whole system has to be made up on synergistic innovations. For example, because the rocket is launched ballistically, initial guidance is very simple compared to traditional rocketry. After you have launched one, you know where every other rocket you launch will be for the first ten seconds or so of its flight. That’s very advantageous to the requirements for GNC“.

The design work is pretty settled for the prototype, the upper stage of which will be put into testing shortly. Much of the legal and regulatory ground work has been put in place“.

We asked the team if they had any sort of schedule to work to, they explained how they plan to have testing completed within the first quarter, adding “Beyond that is hard to project. We will have a better idea once we have a function engine and guidance computer“.

The N-Prize is a complicated and hard prize to achieve, asked about the biggest hurdles the team explained “There is a lot of technology risk in this project. The overall design is pretty radical. In addition all orbital launchers are pretty marginal in engineering terms anyway. The risk is that the whole system doesn’t turn out to be economically viable“.

With joining the prize later than many teams and setting up a business structure it would seem important to have goals beyond the one prize, the team explained how the goal is to spin the technology off into a commercial launch system on a slightly bigger scale if the engineering proves out.

A recurring theme amongst many aerospace start-up companies is that of frustration with regards to funding, the team explain their current situation “Most of the project will be personally funded by the team. However the Gun has a lot of capital requirements and will respond very well performance wise to more investment, so we are looking for a sponsor for that. However the inherent requirements of the N-prize tend to cap the investment in dollar terms. There will of course be large labour inputs, but once development is over the system should not require high man-hours to operate“.

As with most years there has been an influx of articles looking back to the previous year and looking forward to the next year, so what can we expect to see from the team in 2010?

In early 2010 we should complete engine testing. Later on we might get the gun and Sabot tested“.

Lastly, the team were asked about their thoughts on openly sharing their progress with the public: “While we would like to be pretty open, there will be a number or restraints on that. We will see how it goes“.

- Space Fellowship members can chat with the team Here

- The Space Fellowship contact is Idiom (Billy Curle)

- More information can be found at the team website

About the N-Prize

The N-Prize offers two cash Prizes, each of £9,999.99 (nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine pounds and ninety-nine pence, sterling).

The prizes will be awarded to the first persons or groups to put into orbit around the Earth a satellite with a mass of between 9.99 and 19.99 grams, and to prove that it has completed at least 9 orbits.

One prize (the “single-spend-to-orbit”, or “SSO” Prize) will be awarded to the first entrant to complete the challenge using a non-reusable launch system. The other prize (the “reusable vehicle” or “RV” Prize) will be awarded to the first entrant to complete the challenge using a partially or wholly reusable launch system. Both prizes carry equal status.

The cost of the launch, but not ground facilities, must fall within a budget of £999.99. Entrants for the RV Prize may exceed this budget, but must demonstrate recovery of hardware such that the per-launch cost remains within £999.99.

The Space Fellowship thanks the team for taking the time to help with this article.

Copyright 2010 The International Space Fellowship. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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