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SFS news: N-Prize Rule Update

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:49 pm
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SFS news: N-Prize Rule Update 
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Post SFS news: N-Prize Rule Update   Posted on: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:49 pm
Just a small update on the rules of the N-Prize

Rule 3 (Eligibility) has been updated to remove some restrictions on
eligibility. (Current rules can be downloaded from the main site).


Go to the Google Group to read more

Please feel free to discuss this topic further...

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Post Make it Winnable   Posted on: Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:20 pm
The gap between the N Prize Orbital Objectives and credible reality – for its limited funding – is so great (multiple orders of magnitude) that I don't think it will attract people who actually build stuff.

I suggest a radical restructuring to make the prize achievable. The cost limit is probably a good idea, since it allows small amateur team participation. But the objective needs to be downsized to one that is merely daunting (and far from anything previously accomplished) rather than ridiculous.

I suggest reducing the objective to “Space Flightâ€


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Post Re: Make it Winnable   Posted on: Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:26 am
rpspeck wrote:
The gap between the N Prize Orbital Objectives and credible reality – for its limited funding – is so great (multiple orders of magnitude) that I don't think it will attract people who actually build stuff.

(remainder clipped)



At the risk of sounding hokey, I must ask, how are you defining 'reality'.

I expect we'll see at least a few that will build real hardware. Cambridge Space clearly already has experience in very high altitude balloons. The South African team has experience in HPR apparently. Then there is Generation Space with backup from Microlaunchers. My own experience, well, ok, I've never launched anything more than Estes rockets a few hundred feet into the air.

But, I'm an engineer, I'm smart, and I'm willing to step outside the box and try something thoroughly off the wall. I'm not certain if the budget can be met for an entire launch, but I am certain that I can fabricate a booster using common industrial grade materials, and using industrial grade chemicals for propellants. I suspect guidance will need some creative thinking, but hey, we're just trying to get a picosat up for a few orbits, not trying to thread a needle out at Titan.

Don't get me wrong, I see that what you propose would be easier. But I think its time to start building the foundation for private orbital capability now, frankly, riding on the publicity of suborbital flights by Scaled, Virgin, Masten and anyone else who gets in on that opportunity.

Thoughts?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:11 am
I think that we often see the impossible become a reality. but what do i know :)

Is there anywhere we can get some quotes for Ky's rocket launch costs? Could be interesting! I think i have his e-mail somewhere.

Richard, if the N-Prize is won, then do you worry that they will be launching rockets cheaper than you? As to make your assumptions i am assuming that you don't see micro-space being able to build rockets for this price?

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Post More than Difficult!   Posted on: Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:36 am
I have copied my June 12 Micro-Space forum posting below. It spells out some of the engineering difficulties. I can't imagine creating the necessary, high reliability 10 stages! Very slightly greater stage structural mass will increase the initial mass to 100 kg or more.

Anyone who is going to do it will have no trouble doing the suborbital (one or two stage) first! It is unthinkable that anyone will make a credible attempt at the orbital flight without flying several simpler systems first! So Go For It Guys! This may be too simple for the prize, but you can join the two amateur groups who have reached space, and set a new low cost record in the process.

From Earlier Posting:

I have seen references to the “N Prizeâ€


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Post Belated reply from N-Prize   Posted on: Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:10 pm
Hi all,
As has been true since 1962, I'm catching up.

I have the great advantage of a profound and deep-seated ignorance of spaceflight, which leaves room for unlimited naive optimism. I work in another area of science (molecular biology), and several times I've seen massive R&D programs and top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art hardware blown away by some schmuck who thought around the problem rather than through it. Other times, of course, this hasn't worked and the only solution to the problem has been the well-funded one. It can go either way.

The aim of the N-Prize is not to set an objective which we know can be met. A suborbital hop for a thousand quid is sensible and doable; so is an orbital flight for million. But we already know that.

The aim is to set a challenge so utterly impossible that none of the tested and trusted solutions will work. I think there's a good chance that someone will do it - if only because all we're trying to do is to get an ounce of stuff to move fairly quickly a couple of hundred miles away. One giant leap for a man, one small step for mankind.

The other aim is to have fun. We're not out to undermine the larger and more serious programmes - we're not going to put a man on the moon (unless we can find a really, really tiny man). If all that comes out of this is a hole in the ground somewhere and a few interesting scars, then that's fair enough. But, I think the idea is just dumb enough to work.

And, for the record, there's no cost restriction on the hardware. The only restriction is on non-recoverable costs: if you can launch (and recover) a multi-billion dollar system using £999.99 of fuel, you're in business.

Best,
Paul
(Chief Optimist, The N-Prize)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:17 am
I guess you guys never heard of a light gas gun that weighs 27lbs and fits nicely in the nose of a rocket and can fire a 20g satilite at 16.000 ft/sec. from apogee. But that could never work right?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:16 am
Quote:
we're not going to put a man on the moon (unless we can find a really, really tiny man)


Brilliant Paul! youve sent me to work laughing this morning already :)

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Post    Posted on: Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:39 am
Monroe wrote:
I guess you guys never heard of a light gas gun that weighs 27lbs and fits nicely in the nose of a rocket and can fire a 20g satilite at 16.000 ft/sec. from apogee. But that could never work right?


Well that isn't weaponising space at all now is it.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:48 pm
idiom wrote:
Monroe wrote:
I guess you guys never heard of a light gas gun that weighs 27lbs and fits nicely in the nose of a rocket and can fire a 20g satilite at 16.000 ft/sec. from apogee. But that could never work right?


Well that isn't weaponising space at all now is it.


when you get down to it, in space anything is a weapon as long as you're aiming to hit something. whether it is a "gun" or "rocket" or "piece of crap" makes no difference...

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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:19 am
It's an orbital Insertion Unit forgive my ignorance :)

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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:30 am
that's a really cool idea, what pressure do you need to achieve the required velocity, and is it something within the realm of a reasonably priced material?

my initial guess is it's too high but without math i have no idea.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:40 am
How interesting! An honest to goodness question! Thank you, I have an answer for you.

60,000 PSI @ 2000~F
Barrel- Steel
Gas Tube- Titanium encased in a carbon-fiber pressure vessel
Special Compound design reduces length to 72 inches.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:58 pm
hm that's a great idea. i would never have thought it was possible with a gas gun, though i know magnetic guns have been discussed here. very nice, now hopefully you can get it to work!

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Post Re: Make it Winnable   Posted on: Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:24 pm
[quote="rpspeck"]...I suggest a radical restructuring to make the prize achievable. The cost limit is probably a good idea, since it allows small amateur team participation. But the objective needs to be downsized to one that is merely daunting (and far from anything previously accomplished) rather than ridiculous.

I suggest reducing the objective to “Space Flightâ€

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