Elon Musk Testing ‘X-Wing’ Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones For Landing | TechCrunch


Let’s face it: Elon Musk is probably a time traveller sent back to help us leave earth behind and achieve the next phase of human evolution. The inventor and entrepreneur issued a minor tweet storm today, in which he detailed a new SpaceX program to test the function of “X-Wing” style grid fins that could help spacecraft navigate upon re-entry after delivering personnel or cargo to an orbiting space station.

Here, in chronological order, are Musk’s own tweets describing the tech, which, also includes an autonomous seafaring drone spaceport platform, to give them a landing pad that can hold its position within three meters’ distance even in the heart of a raging storm.

The SpaceX reusable rocket program has been progressing with varying results, including an explosion over Texas back in August. While the incident didn’t result in any injury or even “near injuries,” Musk conceded in a tweet that this was evidence that “[r]ockets are tricky.” An earlier test flight from this summer involving an ocean splashdown was considered more successful, proving that the Space X Falcon 9 booster could re-enter earth’s atmosphere, restart its engines, deploy its landing legs and make a touch down at “near zero velocity.”

These new modifications to the rocket should make atmospheric navigation easier, with each fin operating independently to help control the craft’s angle, speed and vector. They also fold up and stow during takeoff, so they don’t add any additional drag. The autonomous spaceports are essentially seafaring landing pads, which can help make sure that re-entering craft are far from any populated areas in the event of any incident, while still providing a stable target for landing spaceships.

{Source: TechCrunch}

NASA Signs Lease with Google Subsidiary for Moffett Field

Hanger One at Moffett Air Field, California












By Jeff Foust | Nov. 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — NASA has signed an agreement to lease Moffett Federal Airfield, run by the agency’s Ames Research Center, to a company owned by Internet giant Google.

The 60-year lease agreement between NASA and Planetary Ventures LLC gives the company control of the 400-hectare airfield, including three hangars, two runways, a flight operations building and a golf course. The lease will provide NASA with $1.16 billion in rent payments over the lifetime of the lease, and save the agency $6.3 million per year in facility maintenance costs.

As part of the lease, Planetary Ventures will also invest more than $200 million in improvements to the airfield, including the refurbishment of Hangar One. The facility, on the National Register of Historic Places, had its exterior panels removed in 2012 as part of an environmental remediation project.

The agreement is part of an effort by NASA to transfer excess property and lower its overhead costs.

“As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a Nov. 10 statement announcing the lease. “Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement.”

NASA and the U.S. General Services Administration selected Planetary Ventures in February to begin negotiations on a lease. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google, headquartered in Mountain View, California, near the airfield.

Google, through Planetary Ventures, plans to use Moffett Field to support research and development activities in space exploration, aviation, robotics, and other technologies, according to the Nov. 10 statement.

{Source: Space News}

ERPS #403 – 09 Oct 2014

Call to Order – 20:10
Julie, Gerry, Michael

– Santa Clara County buying old United Technologies rocket test facility to turn it into open space.
– Attended ARM_TechCon
– Lots of options for data acquisition
– Get a quad-coptor for software hacking – Julie to report back

– we still have money
– No update from State

– Lots of rockets launched
– Commercial Crew announced, then protested, then halted, then reinstated
– Lunar eclipse came and went – next one is Sep 27. 2015

Adjourn – 20:40

ERPS #402 – 11 Sep 2014

Call to Order – 20:14
Gerry, Michael, Julie

– Been going to Maker meetups in Benicia
– Maker group asked for grant and Benicia gave them $20k
– Maybe set up Meetup for ERPS?
– Has article in EE Times
– SurveyMonkey sponsored meeting
– Discussion of recruiting ideas
– Meetup
– Twitter
– Facebook

– Still no letter from AG Office

– SpaceX F9R accident, two F9 launches, 2 coming
– Need for DC-X “Intact Abort” capability
– State of Society

Other Business
– SpaceX
– WorldCon, Irish SF Con (Gerry mentioned ERPS)
– Rosetta/Philae nearing comet
– New Horizon approaching Pluto
– Dawn headed for Ceres

Adjourn – 21:04

ERPS #398 – 10 Apr 2014

Call to Order – 20:10
Julie, Gerald, Michael

– MEMS sensors very cheap and accessible.

– State Attorney General still not responding.

Other Business
– Discussion of Data Acquisition system needs and components.

Adjourn – 20:40

ERPS #397 – 18 Mar 2014

Call to Order – 20:01
Gerald, Julie, Michael

– Move meetings to 2nd Thurs
GN/MW – Unanimous

Julie was selected to present at EE Liev Conference Wed Apr 2, 2014 @ 4pm
– Demo of piano roll scanning machine
– Thu @ 1pm = Amica toy piano design

Contact Conference is this weekend
– Need Mac Mini – use as streaming server to support conference

– Julie ran into old ERPS member Eric Wilner – considering moving to Tennesse
– Julie working Maker Faire

– Do we want to try to work with Hiller Museum?
– Provide family friendly links?

Discussion of how to bootstrap.

– There is a new Maker space in Benicia
– Interested in getting Julie involved for Arduino stuff

– still waiting to hear from CA Attorney Genery Office
– Good with the Feds.

– SpaceX launch 30 Mar

Adjourn – 20:45

ERPS #395 – 21 Jan 2014

Call to Order – 20:10
Gerry, Julie, Michael

President – NTR

Ranch Trip
– Stu and Michael visited Ranch Jan 11, 2014
– Stand in reasonable shape but needs work
– Upper platform deteriorated – needs to be replaced
Lower platform ok but should be replaced (wood)
Block house forms gone but rebar still there
Kevin has a bunch of old containers and tanks there
POGO Mk 0 prototype is there by command trailer
Fire line is there and has water but adaptor keeps freezing
Have replacement and hoses and nozzles
Big issue is water – 3 years of drought – springs drying up
DHS requires far more paperwork than before
There is a peroxide storage available
Dave W’s generator is fine
Lots of new boxes from Masten’s efforts – Gigabit Ethernet?

Pictures at: https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#A15qXGF1fJCEL

Gerry was at Falcon 9 launch and caught video of return attempt

No Space Access … lost Hotel and no time to rearrange

Julie attended the Kepler 2 Conference

Adjourn – 20:57

Ranch Trip Planning ==> 11 Jan 2014

Hi folks ….

To start off the new year, one of the things that’s been needed is a Ranch Trip to determine what condition things are in.

I’m planning to go out there next Saturday. Among the tasks to be accomplished are:

  1. Evaluate general state of the Ranch
  2. Evaluate status of the test stand
  3. Detailed measurement and location of test stand support bolts
  4. Examination of power to the stand
  5. Evaluate options for block house
  6. Examine water supply status
  7. Examine on-site peroxide storage
The plan is to meet up at the Ingram Creek Restaurant (off I-5 South at Westley) at 10:00 am Saturday morning and convey to the Ranch together.
Ranch Trip Preparations:
– Wear layered clothing so you can remove some when it warms up.
– Wear good hiking boots, the roads and hills are rough on shoes.
– Bring comfortable work gloves as we may need to be moving things or clearing weeds.
– Bring a Ham walkie talkie or FSR radio if you have one. Cell phones generally don’t work.
– Bring sun screen and a hat that shades your head – the sun bears down even in January!
– Bring several bottles of water – you can dehydrate quickly.
– Bring a sandwich and soda for lunch – there’s no food at the Ranch.
Anyone interested in the Ranch, static test facilities and/or engine tests should try to be at Ingram Creek by 10:00 am.
See you there!

Drawing for POGO Engine

We’ve being trying to find old data on the 50 lbf engines we used back in the 1990’s for early peroxide monopropellant testing. I used to have detailed specs, but those docs (and a great many others) were lost in the fire of 2006. The plan had been to run a controlled batch of tests to optimize the performance (i.e. varying catalyst type and pack depth to find the best thrust) and then use 5 engines on the POGO (Proof Of Guidance Operations) vehicle. This was a small testbed for verifying guidance and control of a hovering rocket, similar (but a LOT smaller) to the DC-X. While a Mark 0 vehicle was put together, we never did get a proper vehicle flying, and the effort was superseded by the NASA Lunar Lander Challenge – which was won by Masten Space Systems, a spinoff of E.R.P.S.

Co-founder Kevin Bollinger sketched this out back in Jan 2000 and Dan found a copy and scanned it for us.

Blackhawk 50lb HTP engine