Saturday, April 09, 2011

Space Access '11: Armadillo Aerospace - Russ Blink and Ben Brockert

Since the last conference, Armadillo has been flying the Mod vehicle and designing an aeroshell.  They will need to fly the Mod for their CRuSR contract.  They showed a video of a similar flight to what they'd need for CRuSR.  They did more work with the Rocket Racing League.  The RRL did 2 flights at a time.  Armadillo left us in suspense about something brewing at the RRL.  The RRL ran their engines 1,000 times.  These runs were full flight profiles, not just starts and stops.  Ben joked "You know you're doing a lot of rocket testing when it gets annoying."

Armadillo is working with NASA's Project M.  They needed a prototype for a system to take Robonaut to the lunar surface.  JSC folks worked with them to build a vehicle.  The vehicle is at jSC now.  They hope to fly around May.  It was a good collaboration, with learning in both directions.  They showed several videos of engine tests with new engines, some for their use, and some for NASA's use.  They showed a scaled-down model of the tube rocket.  This one can be held in a hand.  The full scale one is 29 feet long.

They showed videos of a burst test.

The NASA work took a long time.  Eventually they were able to start work on vehicle altitude and speed.  That's what the tube rocket is for.  It's not the final configuration.  Crashing the tube rocket is like crashing a sports car (I assume they meant in terms of cost).

They showed a video of a parachute drop from an airplane.  They also showed video of tube rocket Stig hovering.  One test even had them pull on the hovering rocket to give a disturbing force to the rocket.  They also showed a launch stand that Ben designed.

Stig is in New Mexico, waiting for some Spaceport America and White Sands Missile Range paperwork.  The are working through a new type of operation at the spaceport.  It's a learning process for everyone to get comfortable.  They are planning on a 100,000 foot flight.