This is probably one of the most important projects. Our team is set to build a nanosatellite launcher, that will open up the space to all.
We are designing 740lbf regeneratively cooled 3d printed expander cycle liquid oxygen/propane rocket engine that will power upper stage of a two stage nanosatellite launcher.
We're starting with the core technology: a propulsion system that consists of a rocket engine and fuel and oxidizer pumps. Our engines will work on expander cycle, meaning heated fuel will drive an engine, that drives pumps. All the money will go to iterate on design of an engine and a pump until we achieve: reliable ignition, required thrust, required specific impulse and that pump produces adequate power to pump fuel and oxidizer into a combustion chamber.
We are moving extremely fast: We hope to have a propulsion system ready by mid-2014 and launch a rocket by the end of 2014. But, to reach the orbit the rocket will also require a lower stage, which is 10 times larger with engines ten times more powerful. We'll dedicate 2015 to that and hope to send first nanosats to orbit by the end of next year.
These are our earlier prototypes that we developed on our way to a successful engine:
Generation 1: Unsuccessful design with bad mixing of oxidizer and fuel.
Generation 2: A better design that produced first thrust, but our chamber was so small, that fuel didn't have time to burn fully in the chamber. You can see it is attached to our smaller rocket.
Generation 3: Much better performance, first early success with much larger combustion chamber size, our last nitrous oxide/propane engine.
Generation 4: Our first liquid oxygen/propane engine. If we want to reach the orbit, there is almost no way around liquid oxygen. A successful engine, but with limited thrust.
Test stand: We designed test stand to measure thrust and temperatures and pressures of fuel and oxidizer. We made it sturdy enough to be able to test 2000 lbf engines and light enough to be carried by one person.
Our plans for this year:
If we reach our goal, first thing we going to do is order already designed 740 lbf engine.
April 2014: We expect to start engine tests .
June 2014: We expect to integrate an engine with pumps and continue tests .
September 2014: We expect to complete the rest of the rocket and start ground tests .
December 2014: We expect to launch our rocket. Schedule slips are possible, however, if everything works well, we may do our first launch even earlier around October 2014.
Risks and challenges
There are multitude of risks. The main is that we'll keep iterate design and run out of money. Rockets are flammable, so we have to be careful at each step. But, judging from our performance, performance of our engines and our safety record, we're quite optimistic that we'll mitigate all risks and overcome all challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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