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Microlaunchers - N-Prize Update

Published by Rob on Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:11 am
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Charles Pooley Writes:

The plans for the N Prize is in a very preliminary state right now, but a little can be said now, then more later on a new page in the generationspace.org site.

We are thinking of building the satellite itself into a 10 ounce Styrofoam coffee cup, which weighs 2.4 grams and will be closed by a 1 to 2 cm disk of Styrofoam, for a total weight of 3.4 grams, and the battery and electronics will bring up the total mass to 18 to 19 grams.

The electronics and transmitter is to run at an average power of 10 to 20 mw, and there will be an internal temperature control.

Presently we might send 4 pieces of information, repeating every few seconds: Satellite ID, internal temperature, battery voltage, and propellant left in the third stage at cutoff. The last, to indicate the mass the launcher is actually capable of, and satellite ID because we may launch several on the same afternoon to improve the chances that one will succeed.

The battery will be enough to operate for 24 hours or so. Any detection after 14 hours (9 orbits) should provide the proof.

The launcher will be a three stage liquid rocket, and the first engine to be built and tested will be for the 3rd stage, so its performance will allow the size of the lower stages to be correctly scaled.

The preliminary guess for this indicates a GLOW (gross liftoff weight) of about 50 to 100 kg, and that it will be about 15 cm in diameter and about 4 meters long.

This is based on a scaled down version of what was to be the entry level Microlauncher, designated ML-1, which was to be able to orbit a 1 kg Cubesat or send 100 grams to escape. The N Prize vehicle is to be called ML-N and it will not be able to reach escape velocity even with no payload.

The actual construction, low altitude testing may take place in the Columbus Ohio area, as conditions here in California are not good for new business startups.

Time estimate? Not possible now as there are too many steps, including my relocation, shop acquisition, finding one or a few hands-on participants.

Please feel free to discuss this topic further in the forum…

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