Author Topic: Masten Space Systems Update  (Read 237737 times)

Offline jongoff

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Masten Space Systems Update
« on: 05/23/2008 07:06 PM »
For those interested, I just put together an update for what we've been doing out in Mojave over the past few months.   An interesting sidenote that I think you guys would be interested in, is that one of our two new hires actually met us via this forum.

http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=146

For those of you who haven't heard of us before, Masten Space Systems is a small (currently 4-engineer) aerospace startup based out of Mojave, CA.  We've been building regen-cooled throttleable rocket engines for a few years now, and are working on VTVL rocket vehicles, similar to our friends at Armadillo Aerospace.  We got into the game several years after they did, back in late 2004, and are now working on our second and third vehicles (our first one retired in two pieces after several months of unsuccessful tether tests).

I'm going to try and post updates on our blog more frequently now that we're getting caught up a bit, and if people are interested, I'll post links here.  If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them on our blog (preferable) or post them here.

~Jon

Offline guru

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/2008 06:57 PM »
Jon,

You're doing some excellent work out there.  It's good to see some real metal being bent for reusable space vehicle development.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #2 on: 07/01/2008 12:36 AM »
Jon,

You're doing some excellent work out there.  It's good to see some real metal being bent for reusable space vehicle development.

Thanks.  We obviously aren't the only ones doing so by any stretch of the imagination, but we try to contribute.

~Jon

Offline Swatch

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #3 on: 07/01/2008 07:32 AM »
Hello Jon... this is a very ironic turn of events....

I've been reading your blog for a while and greatly enjoy many of the things you chat about.
On an unrelated turn of events I picked up one of my classmates from LAX recently and depostited her on a train bound for the Mojave...FOR MASTEN!
To tie it all together, I come here, recognize your name and recognize the company!  Anyway, that's my ironic moment of the month.

That being said, from what she told me about what you guys are doing, it sounds great!  Keep up the good work, and keep up the interesting discussions on your blog!
Ex-Rocket Scientist in Training, now Rocket Scientist!
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #4 on: 09/17/2008 05:48 AM »
For those interested, I posted another update about what we've been doing at Masten:

http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=170

We still haven't gotten back into conjuring up hot-flamey-stuff, or doing flight attempts, but we're getting close, and we are bending metal and making progress.

~Jon

Offline bad_astra

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #5 on: 09/17/2008 10:16 PM »
I really like the look of the page now.
"Contact Light" -Buzz Aldrin

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #6 on: 09/17/2008 10:58 PM »
I really like the look of the page now.

Thanks.  Michael Mealling did most of that.  We wanted to improve readability.  I'm in the process of helping Michael flesh out some of the content for the site as well (when I'm not fighting with stupid FEA trying to get parts ready for release....)

~Jon

Offline corrodedNut

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #7 on: 12/09/2008 11:28 PM »
Hey Jon-

I was wondering if and how the new FAA rules are affecting your testing, etc.

This article (blog) by Henry Spencer is an excellent summary of the rule changes:

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/12/rocketeers-cleared-for-lift-of.html

Thanks
« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 11:31 PM by corrodedNut »

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #8 on: 12/10/2008 04:41 AM »
I was wondering if and how the new FAA rules are affecting your testing, etc.

Ok, Dave's the guy who does most of our interaction with the FAA/AST (he's a lot more patient and tactful than I), so he'd know better than I.  But here's my understanding:

Basically, AIUI, the new rules don't end up helping us very much for our current situation.  Our test site is located at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, which means that we already need to file for a waiver because we're within 5 miles of an active airport.  Also, the 1500 ft third-party standoff rule is more restrictive than what we were going to need for our smaller vehicles (based on the Net Explosive Weight Calculations, we were supposed to be able to use something less than 800ft as the distance).  Since our test site is within 1500ft of the outside of the airport property (and the test sites of several friendpetitors in the area), we may now need to get a waiver for that requirement as well.  Which means we end up filing a decent chunk of what we were going to need for an experimental permit, and doesn't fix the whole "tether testing" mess for us.  That said, we don't have an environmental assessment to do, so that's one plus.

Now, the AST itself has been fairly good about getting us waivers for stuff like the tether tests (which shouldn't have ever been considered launches in the first place), while only taking a couple of man weeks worth of work on our part getting them information, running simulations, doing modeling, and analysis.  The other part of the FAA however, the part that gives waivers for "rocket launches within 5 miles of an airport" still hasn't gotten us one, even though we filed for it back in August or September.  And while hopefully it will go faster in the future (some of the delays this time may just be due to them not having had to grant a waiver for anything like what we're trying to do), we'll still have to go through this process for every new vehicle we want to test at MHV.

IOW, at best the new rules don't help us right now.  At worst it may mean we have more hoops to jump through.  But we agree that overall it's a good new regulation, and a good step for the industry, even if we don't benefit very much from it.

~Jon (hoping we get that second waiver sometime between now and when the Sun burns out)
« Last Edit: 12/10/2008 05:04 AM by jongoff »

Offline corrodedNut

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #9 on: 12/10/2008 02:02 PM »
I'm sorry to hear that. I was hoping that this would clear up the "tether test" mess. The industry's best hope now may be to convince Gov. Richardson that restricting rocket testing at a "spaceport" doesn't make much common sense.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #10 on: 12/10/2008 02:38 PM »
I'm sorry to hear that. I was hoping that this would clear up the "tether test" mess. The industry's best hope now may be to convince Gov. Richardson that restricting rocket testing at a "spaceport" doesn't make much common sense.

Well, unfortunately, we're out in California, not New Mexico.  The big issue is that the whole tether ruling was 100% retarded, and even though the AST side has been really helpful, there are all sorts of unintended consequences.  For instance, right now it's just as easy to get permission to do freeflights within 5 miles of an airport as it is to do tethered flights.  Easier actually, since you don't have to do all the analysis on the tether system.  Is the FAA really doing its job protecting the public by encouraging groups to skip tether tests and go straight to flight tests?  But there was a loophole, those FAA lawyers had to do *something*!

~Jon

Offline corrodedNut

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #11 on: 12/10/2008 03:06 PM »
I guess I should have said, "Secretary of Commerce appointee Bill Richardson", its doubtful if he can influence the FAA directly, but he may be able to bend the President-Elect's ear on this matter.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #12 on: 12/10/2008 03:28 PM »
I guess I should have said, "Secretary of Commerce appointee Bill Richardson", its doubtful if he can influence the FAA directly, but he may be able to bend the President-Elect's ear on this matter.

Maybe, but having someone good in the Department of Transportation (or as head of the FAA) would be more valuable.  The AST had this whole thing foisted on them by some lawyers in the FAA, and whoever ends up heading the FAA might be able to revisit the decision.  I'm not sure.  Maybe if Bill Richardson made it an issue it could get some attention.  Not sure though.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #13 on: 01/28/2009 02:35 AM »
I know that a few of you here on NSF have been following our progress at MSS, so I wanted to post a quick update for those who've been following us.  This also should explain why I haven't been replying to everyone's comments immediately on the forum...

Anyhow, we finished refurbishing our test trailer (with greatly improved DAQ capabilities, a microcontroller based control system, and new throttle valves), and started testing our first rev 750lbf engine.  The engine is regen cooled, LOX/IPA, deep throttleable, and we're shooting for 220s Isp at full throttle, and at least a 4:1 throttle range.  This is the engine we're planning on using for XA-0.2 and 0.3.

Ben got some good videos of the test firings here:

Real time video, in HD, and you can see the trailer:


At high speed (600 frames per second), you can see that the purge gas causes some minor harmless oscillation at engine shutdown:


I'll probably put together a blog post soon with more stills of what we've been doing.

~Jon

Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #14 on: 01/28/2009 03:13 AM »
IPA? IsoPropyl Alcohol?

Beautiful vids - have to view 'em properly at home. Nice work you guys have been doing! Makes me want to be a rocket engineer when I grow up!
SKYLON... The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's preferred surface-to-orbit conveyance.

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #15 on: 01/28/2009 04:09 AM »
IPA? IsoPropyl Alcohol?

Yup.  Sorry, I think we all tend to forget that acronyms we use every day in our own little world can be somewhat cryptic to others.

Quote
Beautiful vids - have to view 'em properly at home. Nice work you guys have been doing! Makes me want to be a rocket engineer when I grow up!

Ben's not quite a Mike Massee (the guy who does pictures for XCOR), but he's definitely talented in his own right.  And that high-speed camera is just plain cool!  But I'm sure he'd be glad to know that he's helping others get bit by "the bug".  :-)

~Jon
« Last Edit: 01/28/2009 04:10 AM by jongoff »

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #16 on: 04/08/2009 05:27 PM »
We should have a new update out soon (post Space Access 09), but for now, here's a semi-off-topic post about why I've been somewhat busy lately (since it isn't 100% MSS related, please leave comments there):

http://selenianboondocks.com/2009/04/peter-yuri-goff/

Offline jongoff

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #17 on: 04/17/2009 11:34 PM »
Here's our latest technical update: http://masten-space.com/blog/?p=266

I talk a bit about a new direction we're taking for the XA-0.1B vehicle, and a bit about our new engines we're testing. 

~Jon

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #18 on: 05/05/2009 12:40 AM »
I'll probably put together a real update this week, but here are some pictures from our first firings of the vehicle in the single-engine configuration on Friday (May 1st):

http://twitpic.com/4k7qt
http://twitpic.com/4k7we

For comparison here is a picture from a test that was done just over a month earlier (March 30th):

http://masten-space.com/images/4eng_crop.jpg

Since then the vehicle's dry mass has dropped by over half (from about 950lb to about 450lb), and the expected max hover duration has jumped up from ~45s to 95s.  The new engine is pretty easy to work with, and on those tests on Friday we were able to get our nominally 750lbf engines up to about 830lbf. 

Here's also some youtubes of our main technician and our GNC Dude doing a few RCS tests (after the "adult supervision" had gone home for the night):

http://tinyurl.com/dbqtxo
http://tinyurl.com/dcy5og

We should have more detail and lots more pictures and videos when I get this video put together. 

~Jon

Offline Swatch

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Re: Masten Space Systems Update
« Reply #19 on: 05/05/2009 02:42 PM »
Well done Jon.... Love the video!

Good luck, looking forward to this puppy's maiden!
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