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Rubicon 1 Launch Results

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:25 am
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chabot imageThe problem that reared its head yesterday (Sunday, August 8th) is easily resolved and we’ll move forward as quickly as possible towards X Prize flights. Basically, one of the solid propellant engines over-pressurized and severely damaged the remainder of the engine assembly, resulting in a truncated flight. The passenger capsule and nosecone broke free of the engine assembly and somersaulted towards the ocean. The parachute command was not received in time to allow a soft landing.

This is a short-term setback that will help us in the long run. Aside from the propellant lesson, numerous small lessons were learned and the cost of Rubicon 1 itself was minimal compared to the value of the knowledge gained in building and testing the vehicle.

It seems that the propellant was likely mis-formulated due to measurement equipment error. We had a hint of the problem, but did not feel strongly enough about it to take action. In the future, quality control measures will be put in place to prevent the problem particularly, testing a small sample of the propellant from the large batches.

There was in-depth news coverage of yesterday’s fairly spectacular malfunction (see www.xprizenews.org (this website), which has a good set of links to pictures and stories). The general public becoming aware that, beyond the X Prize, there is great potential out there for space travel and that Space Transport can be one of many successful pioneering companies in the blossoming industry.

People instinctively rise to challenges and the initial reaction from folks that have seen the news is that they want to join forces in this tough project alongside an STC team that clearly has capability and devotion. Sunday’s event seems to have built a wave of support.

Regarding the ANSARI X PRIZE: The race is not over until it’s over and anything can happen. However, there’s a much bigger prize out there than the $10M — space tourism. Just ask the Scaled Composites team or the X Prize Foundation itself. There is room for numerous companies in space tourism.

Humanity always has and always will rise to challenges, and that is what’s happening here!


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