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Armadillo Aerospace News: Construction

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Mon Jul 19, 2004 2:44 pm
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chabot imageLots of miscellaneous work as we rebuild and move to the new tank diameter.

We pulled the computer and propulsion sections off of the 63″ diameter tank, and moved them to the 48″ diameter tank. The old tank and cabin are now just strapped to a palette off to the side of the shop.

We hydrotested the new tank to 530 psi.

We straightened the vanes again, and added some bracing, because the vane plate was warping a bit, either from heating or the hard push against the out-of-position vanes.:
The existing vanes only bend when we have a failure that turns them more than 20 degrees under the flow, but we have some Rene-41 alloy plate and rods from www.hightempmetals.com coming, which we are going to try making a set of vanes with that should be pretty indestructible under our conditions. Depending on the form, Rene-41 is $75 to $100 a pound! I was shocked to see that as twice what the refractory metals like TZM cost, but it is still easier to form and doesn’t need an oxidation protection coating.

We built a completely separate box for all the motor drives, and we are completely electrically isolating it without even connecting the grounds this time. To do this, the ignition will be controlled by separate solid state relays, leaving the drive board and the master cutoff controlling motors exclusively. The complete box weighs 33lb, mostly in the batteries.

Our hatch reinforcement for the cabin-at-the-bottom layout arrived. Our previous hatch on the cabin-in-the-cone had a separate lip that the hatch was supposed to fit in, but at only ¼” thick, it wasn’t deep enough to provide any centering ability with the gasket spacing the hatch off, so we left it off the new design. The corners were also clipped so we don’t need to weld on extra bars when we want to externally bolt the hatch closed instead of internally pressurizing it.

We built an actuator framework to control a 4″ ball valve using the strongest KZCO actuator. It took 24 volts to drive it, but it seems to be able to open and close it continuously without any problems. Unfortunately, there is so much backlash in the huge gear train and mounting play that it isn’t very good at making small flow changes. We will probably use this for test stand work, and find something better for vehicle engines. This size valve is good for over 30,000 lbf class mixed-monoprop engines, but our next scaling should go to about 16,000 lbf.

The plates for the mininozzle experiment arrived. The pictured plate arrangement actually has slightly more throat area than the large single nozzle. We want to try out this experiment before we scale to 24″ engines, but vehicle flight tests are still top priority.

The new spreading plates for the 7″ test engine should be here on Monday. Based on my update description, Terry Wheelock made a cutaway CAD drawing of our 7″ engine:

A picture of our prospective launch site at the Southwest Regional Spaceport from Neil’s scouting trip (not much to damage out there…):

We are pushing to get the new vehicle configuration in the air next Saturday, but that may be a stretch.
Click here to visit ArmadilloAerospace.com

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