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When will the N-Prize be won?

Posted by: LookUp - Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:35 am
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When will the N-Prize be won? 

When will at least one of the N-Prizes be won?
By the end of 2017 25%  25%  [ 2 ]
By the end of 2020 25%  25%  [ 2 ]
By the end of 2025 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
After 2025 25%  25%  [ 2 ]
Never 25%  25%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 8

When will the N-Prize be won? 
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Post When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:35 am
As it's a new year, I've decided to start a new poll to get current opinions as to the feasibility of the prize.

EDIT: As there were no votes or responses yet, I edited the poll to make the options more reasonable.


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Fri Jan 02, 2015 2:13 pm
Like the definition of good eyesight I put down by 2020 I hope to be able to try before then but its always good to have a bit of a margin of error as it has proven to be quite difficult as the extensions to the deadline have proven. But I thank Dr Paul Dear again publicly for keeping it going.

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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:33 am
Just doing a private sub-orbital flight is difficult and expensive, I helped with one successful launch last year and besides Sugar Shot that is still trying I'm also working with two other teams in that effort and on one orbital team though it will be trying to put a cubesat in orbit. I think to do the N-Prize by its limitations is still away off technology wise and the rewards (commercially) will go to cubesat size launcher development. But with all the teams still 'on the books' for the N-Prize, don't count it off.

Rick


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:23 pm
I voted "Never", but of course it's impossible to show that it never happens since someone might claim that they'll do it in the future.

During the next 10 years, we may see some sub-orbital amateur rocket flights that reach space, but I doubt that we see an orbital amateur space flight. Even for sub-orbital space flights the costs will be orders of magnitude higher than the N-Prize rules allow. Tack on at least another order of magnitude for an orbital flight.

Assuming that the costs can be made extremely low during the next 100 years economic inflation will make the task even harder. 100 years from now you may have an effective budget that is one-tenth of the budget in today's currency.

I suppose sometime in the distant future energy will be effectively free, and a rocket could be built using free energy that could fly from earth's surface into orbit. You could then eject a 10-gram "satellite" and observe it from the orbiting rocket for three orbits. So a few centuries from now the N-Prize could be claimed by someone who discovered the existence of it in some dusty digital archive of the 21st century internet.

I'll change my vote to "After 2025".


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:41 pm
SANEAlex wrote:
…I thank Dr Paul Dear again publicly for keeping it going.

Paul signs his posts by quoting Ernest Rutherford, "Gentlemen, we haven't got any money, so we are going to have to think!" That is the essence of the challenge. His invitation to us is to think beyond convention. For daring to inspire us and confound us with the riddle of the N-Prize I also want to thank Dr. Dear again.

Scientists and engineers throughout history have achieved amazing things with minimal resources. In the third century B.C., when most people could see for themselves the world was obviously flat, Eratosthenes measured the circumference of Earth with remarkable accuracy using little more than sticks and string and sunlight. In the 1750s, when most people believed a thunderbolt to be the Hand of God delivering justice, Benjamin Franklin revolutionized our understanding of lightning using a kite made with a spare handkerchief. Now, early in the twenty-first century, when most people believe orbital spaceflight is obviously attainable only by the expenditure of vast sums of money, someone somewhere somehow will launch a satellite into orbit for less than a thousand pounds sterling.

Every assumption must be set aside. Everything you thought you knew about the technological requirements must be laid open to question. Only the rigors of physics are inescapable and there is nothing in the laws of nature that prohibits success. We are just going to have to think!


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:03 am
[quote="DaveHeinDuring the next 10 years, we may see some sub-orbital amateur rocket flights that reach space, but I doubt that we see an orbital amateur space flight.[/quote]


Hi Dave, Last year I helped the CSXT team launch their sub-orbital flight, I am now helping three other 'amateur teams' besides still working on Sugar Shot...have also been approached by others for help but only 24 hours in a day (I also now mentor 3 NASA university teams, we are launching this coming weekend). And I'm still part of an orbital team left over from the now defunct NASA Centennial Challenge with a test flight planned this year and a member of a Google Lunar XPrize team that did a successful test flight of a sub-orbital vehicle last year.

You are right, this stuff is expensive and groups working on 'shoe string' budgets will need more time to get things done.

Rick


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:30 pm
Rick,

If anybody can win the N-Prize you're the one that could do it. You have the knowledge and experience to pull it off. Most of the other people that think they can do it are so naive they don't even understand what's required to orbit a satellite.

Several people have claimed that they've made lots of progress, and they're almost ready to make an attempt. But then we never hear from them again or they come up with some excuse why they missed their proposed date.

The accomplishments of the CSXT team are impressive. However, the cost of the motor that was used must have been way beyond the N-Prize limitations. It might be possible to produce the fuel for such a motor within the N-Prize restrictions, but that only get's a payload into a sub-orbital space flight.

The rockoon approach is probably the way to go, but I haven't seen much progress there. That's why I don't think it's going to happen by the end of 2025.

Dave


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:56 am
When I posted that sims show a 5 or 6 stage rocket powered by sugar can reach orbit, Paul asked if would be possible to win the N-Prize with sugar. Just the cost of the propellant would be way more than the permissible amount let alone getting that many sugar motors to work.

We have now switched from the 'Dual-Pulse' motor design that was plagued with problems to a more conventional 2-stage design. And I just finished machining the transition to a dart on a project to hit 70,000' using a single O-class motor. Got me again thinking about putting a dart on a balloon. Elimination of the big earth launched booster would substantially reduce the size of the rocket yet still large enough to require a huge balloon and contrary to what some believe, launching such a balloon is neither cheap nor easy and then you have the problems of launching off that balloon.

We have been working on a Sugar booster to ramjet to rocket using the ram-jet to go from 20-80,000' with the second rocket reaching space (sub-orbital). The booster would recover by chute, the ramjet fly back and the suborbital again by chute.

This weekend one of the NASA student teams I am mentoring will be launching their small scale rocket (the challenge is to build a sample recovery rocket, launch, and then safely recover the rocket and sample). The other team did their small scale test last month and I now mentor a student team from JPL for a project.

Another thing coming up is the FAR site's plans on building a liquid fueled test stand just announced:

One of these new items is a liquid motor test rig. We have toyed with this in the past but it is our intention to make a bi-prop liquid motor test rig that would accommodate motors up to 1000lbs. thrust, and possibly larger, including all support systems needed. Engine mounting, thrust measurement, propellant measurement, pressure systems, insulated propellant tanks, hoses, regulators, data acquisition systems including a computer, and it will be ready-to-use. As soon as it is finished the dimensions and specifications will be made available on the FAR website so all you have to do is design and build the motor to fit, the remainder of the system will be available at FAR for your use. We have seen many student groups run out of time trying to build all of this support equipment after completing their engine fabrication. We have also seen many individuals finish a motor design only to run out of money before completing the support equipment. This should rectify that problem. Part of the design will be to make the rig easy to setup, store, and move so that it becomes the solution of choice rather than necessity.

I have been working on a liquid motor and plumbing in my 'spare time' and this will render the possibility of developing small motors for orbital insertion 'easier' and help student teams with their designs...few get to the motor built and tested stage, then graduate and never get to launch their liquid motor.
Realistically, the Carmack Prize was a good one to encourage amateur teams doing high power rocketry to get to 100,000' and I think a prize for an amateur team to get to space would also encourage people to try for that challenge, a logical next step after 100,000' and there are now several university teams trying for that. And as impressive as it was, it's hard to think of the CSXT team as 'amateur' since they essentially used a big expensive Cesaroni motor in an Up Aerospace rocket but it showed it can be done.

Not many people my age are thinking about building rockets/companies for going into space so I'm happy just to help those desiring to make that their career. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LydYQda ... Q&index=59

Rick


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:40 am
DaveHein wrote:
Rick,

The rockoon approach is probably the way to go, but I haven't seen much progress there. That's why I don't think it's going to happen by the end of 2025.

Dave


Dave,
We are about to start discussions for launching orbital satellites. I know you have done the numbers on the 'team' we were previously on. This is not about the N-Prize but for launching cubesat and larger commercial satellites using a new proprietary propellant we have been testing for the past few years (not sugar). Would you be willing to join such an endeavor? We do have financing, do you still have my email address?
Rick


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:28 pm
Rick, I have your email address. I'll send you a message. -Dave


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:35 pm
Interesting results so far. A quarter of respondents say never (I think I know the identity of at least one of those, lol), but on the other hand half say within the next six years.

Admittedly a small sample size, but it's a small prize, so it's only fitting! I guess we shall see.


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:25 am
Half the people think the prize will be won within the next 6 years. This seems surprising given that during the first 6 years of the N-Prize none of the teams have demonstrated that they can even reach space. Achieving orbit is an order of magnitude harder than this. Doing this under the cost restrictions of the N-Prize rules add another burden.

I wonder if those who think it will happen within the next 6 years are just indicating what they hope will happen, and not necessarily what they really think will happen. If you had to wager $10,000 would you bet that it would happen within the next 6 years? That would seem like a risky wager. The safer bet, and the more likely, is that it would happen after 6 years, if at all.


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Post Re: When will the N-Prize be won?   Posted on: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:07 am
Before the N-Prize can be won by an 'amateur' team, they would probably fly a cubesat or larger launch since that would be the smallest that could probably generate funds (customers). N-Prize could come later when payload size and weight deceases with advances in electronics.

In the quest to 'space' we had a successful small scale booster test this past Saturday and I taught a class on propellant making to a group of about 30 university students...making 100 and 165mm grains to be fired at a later date. They will be the ones going into space, orbit and making the N-Prize happen.

Rick


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