Sunday, April 10, 2011

Space Access '11: Unreasonable Rocket - Paul Breed

Paul described the last year as an "unreasonably lazy" one.  He didn't build any new vehicles, but he did take technology steps towards his goals.  These steps involve three projects: small printed motor experiments, a 100 gram GPS IMU for a Nanosatellite launcher, and composite tanks technology.  Paul compared the GPS IMU to the heavier Northop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge version, which he showed in his hands.  These 3 steps are all intended to be combined into a microlauncher.

Paul showed his first 3D printed motor attempt, and explained the process for making it.  Then he showed his second attempt.  This presentation was full of hardware components, so he was showing the real metal.  For his third attempt, he used discrete metal laser sintering.  This is a more expensive technique - on the order of jumping from $350 to $5,000.  He showed the results.  He was able to get some firings out of this attempt.  His goal is to have it run for 10 minutes without touching it, then to wait 2 weeks, and finally to get another 10 minute run without touching it.  He got the first part of that sequence, but not the repeat.  He is trying again this upcoming weekend for the second attempt.  Finally, Paul showed is fourth printed motor, which was made using a different company.  This one is aluminum compared to stainless steel for the others.

The next discussion was on the small GPS-integrated IMU.  He built a high power rocket to test the IMU.  Paul showed the rocket.  Some lower-cost products don't work well with rocket vibrations.  None of the numerous GPSs that he tested (and he showed a bunch of GPS hardware) would keep lock during 6G acceleration.  As a result, he is GPS-less.  Now he is building one.  He will be open about all of the hardware.  He's not sure how open he will be able to be for the software.  He showed the chips he's combining with his Netburner product.

The last discussion was on tank development.  He partnered with Microcosm to develop peroxide compatible tanks.  The first tank may be ready by May.  Unreasonable can build with the tanks, and Microcosm can sell them.

In the future, he plans to combine these 3 projects into a vehicle.  He's looking at the NASA Nanosatellite Launch Challenge.

There was some talk at the end about the need for a volunteer to take videos at the FAR, since he's busy with other work when he goes there.