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$3,991 pledged of $95,000 goal
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By John Hunter
$3,991 pledged of $95,000 goal
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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

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Prototype Gallery

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About this project

Green Launch to the Karman Line

There are two vital issues this century.  They are:

1)  Reducing Space Access Costs. 

Current orbital delivery costs are $5,000 per lb.  The Green Launch Hydrogen Gas Gun Launch system can reduce this to $100 per lb.  This will enable manned exploration of Mars.  However before we deliver propellant and consumables for Mars missions there are several other markets which we can revolutionize as well.  In suborbital Phases 1 and 2 we will deliver scientific payloads of many types and with high launch rates and low cost. In Phase 3 we will deliver Cubesats to Low Earth Orbit at 1/50th the current delivery cost!

2)  Monitoring and Moderating Climate Change.

Climate change may be man made.  To find out, we need to affordably measure trace gases like carbon dioxide and sulfer dioxide in the upper atmosphere.  If carbon dioxide is the bad actor then we need an alternative to rocket launch since most rockets produce carbon dioxide. Green Launch produces zero carbon dioxide.

This Kickstarter is focused on Phase 1 which is the delivery of scientific and DNA payloads to above the Karman Line.  Our delivery vehicle is called Mini-Mart and will be launched by a hydrogen gas gun from the Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) to 100 km altitude.  The Mini-Mart is so named because it can carry anything as long as it is < 1.25 inches in diameter and 4 inches long.  There are three of these cylindrical payloads inside each Mini-Mart vehicle.  At the Karman Line, the Mini-Mart payloads will be ejected and parachute to earth to be recovered.  Payloads will collect greenhouse gas samples and record atmospheric data as they return to earth. 

On a lighter note the Mini-Mart will also carry postage stamps that have human DNA to beyond the Karman Line.  This is an uplifting way to earn someone their astronaut pin and can be done using stamps from any era.

Mini-Mart with Sabot and Payloads
Mini-Mart with Sabot and Payloads

 

The Mini-Mart Vehicle Contains Three 4" Long by 1.25" Diameter Cylinders as Payloads
The Mini-Mart Vehicle Contains Three 4" Long by 1.25" Diameter Cylinders as Payloads

After coasting to an apogee above the Karman Line, the three payloads will be ejected to complete their scientific mission.  Some of the payloads will include cameras and electronic sensors as shown in the following rendering of the deployment sequence.

Mini-Mart Deploying Scientific Payloads and DNA Samples
Mini-Mart Deploying Scientific Payloads and DNA Samples

The Green Launch Hydrogen Gas Gun

The Phase 1 and 2 Green Launch systems will deliver suborbital payloads beyond the Karman Line.  The Phase 1 launcher uses an existing steel barrel modified for hydrogen injection.  Our team has selected the hydrogen gas gun technology based on the amazing velocities hydrogen gas guns have demonstrated.  The data on hydrogen gas guns far surpass other candidates such as rail guns, coil guns  or other electric guns.  In addition hydrogen gas guns are simple, robust and affordable.

The earliest hydrogen gas guns at NASA have accelerated objects to 11.2 km/s which coincidentally is earth escape velocity.  Subsequently our Chief Technical Officer, Dr. John Hunter created and ran SHARP (Super High Altitude Research Project) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  SHARP and its successful performance paved the way for Green Launch.

Green Launch is not a weapon. Our team has dedicated Green Launch to peaceful non-polluting access to space as well as environmental monitoring.  Rockets will always be the preferred weapon of choice for the world's military organizations.  Rockets have the ability to salvo unlike hydrogen gas guns and so will always be superior as weapons.

Several of our team members have proudly worked in or in support of the US military in past conflicts, however Green Launch will be used solely for non-polluting, affordable access to space.

The Phase 1 hydrogen gas gun barrel is shown below and the beauty of it is we are paying for the minor modifications with our own money.  Your pledges will pay for the Mini-Mart launch vehicles with sabots plus their scientific payloads.

Green Launch Members With the Seven Inch by 55 Foot Long Barrel
Green Launch Members With the Seven Inch by 55 Foot Long Barrel

The Phase 3 orbital launcher is higher performance and will capture and recycle the hydrogen each launch.  It is designed to deliver 3U Cubesats to a 300 km Low Earth Orbit.  The following rendering shows the Phase 3 Launcher.

Phase 3 Launcher for Delivering 3U Cubesats to Orbit
Phase 3 Launcher for Delivering 3U Cubesats to Orbit

 Where Does Your Contribution Go?

The cost for the Phase 1 delivery of payloads to the Karman Line is $210K.  We have family and friends donating $125K and so we are targeting a Kickstarter pledge of $95K which will become about $85K after subtracting the Kickstarter fee and other expenses.

Our team will quickly modify an existing conventional gun barrel to create the Phase 1 Green Launcher. This will be paid out of the $125K family and friends contributions.

Your pledge will solely go to cover the construction of the Mini-Mart Launch vehicles, their payloads and some of the Range costs for Phase 1.  Range Costs include tracking Radar ($2K/launch),  YPG management, riggers, technicians and a YPG test director.  In the event our Kickstarter yields funds in excess of $95K, those funds will be used towards Phase 2 which is the 200 km altitude record.  Phase 2 will likely require a subsequent round of fundraising and a second Kickstarter.  We are optimistic that a successful Phase 1 will motivate backers to participate in the second Kickstarter.

The three steps required by the Green Launch Team to achieve low cost, non-polluting access to space are:

  • Phase 1:  Green Launch of Scientific payloads and DNA samples to the Karman Line.  That is what this Kickstarter is about!
  • Phase 2:  World Record Green Launch to 200 km altitude.  Phase 2 is not included in this Kickstarter unless we receive extra pledges from Phase 1 which may be rolled over into Phase 2.
  • Phase 3:  Green Launch of 3U Cubsats to Low Earth Orbit. This epochal phase will require more funds at a later date.  It will not occur unless we have a successful Phase 1 launch to the Karman Line.

We hope to include backers in the Green Launch process as it plays out. This is not a scripted or routine event, but will be performed by an experienced team at one of the best test ranges in the world (YPG).   We hope to meet some of you at our barbecues at the nearby Martinez Lake Cantina as we perform this vital and entertaining Phase 1: Green Launch to the Karman Line.  Read more about Green Launch at our website http://greenlaunch.org/

 Cheers!

The Green Launch Story

Green Launch has it origins in the original works by Isaac Newton "Principia Mathematica" and Jules Verne "From The Earth to The Moon".

Jules Verne, Author of "From the Earth to The Moon"
Jules Verne, Author of "From the Earth to The Moon"

The idea of using guns to access space is intuitive to many since the idea of a reusable ground based launcher just makes economic sense.  It was not until scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory created a working 400 foot long hydrogen gas gun (SHARP) that the concept was revived.  It turns out the ingredient Jules Verne barely missed was the hydrogen propellant which has a very high sound speed compared to solid propellant such as gunpowder.  The available launch velocities demonstrated using hydrogen range as high as 11,200 meters/sec which is earth escape velocity.  Once SHARP was successfully demonstrated in the late 90s, the same scientists looked towards the heavens in a desire to make space launch much more affordable than with expensive and fragile rockets.

The Team

The Green Launch team was recently assembled with environmental consultant/pilot Don Whitney, P.E. at the helm.  Dr. John Hunter was the original SHARP Program Manager and runs a Solar Airplane company.  Rob Fryer has founded tech companies as well as being on the board of Water Station, Inc..  Eric Robinson is a conservationist and scientist/entrepreneur who has actual working hardware on Mars. Eric supplied high purity fluid valves for the Curiosity rover.

In addition we are working with Parabilis, a premier rocket company, to design and test the rocket stage that will insert the satellite or fuel payload into orbit for Phase 3.  Parabilis has supplied testimonials for our hydrogen launch technology (see video).  The Parabilis team created the rocket motor that enabled Spaceship One to win the X-Prize.

The SHARP Technology Demonstrator

There are only 2 routes to space access.  Rockets and hydrogen gas guns.  Rockets were the preferred choice until SHARP (Super High Altitude Research Project) showed that by using hydrogen as a propulsive fluid, orbital speeds with large objects were feasible and affordable.

The SHARP Launcher at the LLNL Site 300 in Tracy CA
The SHARP Launcher at the LLNL Site 300 in Tracy CA

SHARP was conceived of and operated by the author and the SHARP team from 1992-1998. The world class people and resources of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory made it possible.  The initial funding was via Internal R&D competition.  Other funding and resources came from the Air Force, SDIO, John's Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Rockwell International.  The idea was to launch orbital payloads but there were a number of interesting science projects that it was uniquely suited to.

Mach 9 Scramjet.  These were launched at record speeds and Performance was Measured With High Speed Cameras
Mach 9 Scramjet. These were launched at record speeds and Performance was Measured With High Speed Cameras

The SHARP construction was a tremendous learning experience in material properties, construction methods and project management. Ultra high strength steel was used in vital areas and in others aircraft quality steel was used.  The average machined steel part cost < $5/lb.

Shrink Fitting a Steel Sleeve Around an Ultra Strong Liner.
Shrink Fitting a Steel Sleeve Around an Ultra Strong Liner.

Engineers, technicians and physicists worked for a common goal. The diversity of talent included machinists, mechanical technicians, metallurgists, hypersonic flight experts, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, environmental analysts and of course physicists.

SHARP Personnel Prepare for a Launch
SHARP Personnel Prepare for a Launch

The real fun occurred on launch day at Site 300.  The SHARP team made sure the pump tube and launch tubes were under vacuum. The launch tube was honed and aligned to high straightness with a surveyor. Then the entire team moved to a remote bunker and an area sweep was performed and all gates closed within 3,000 feet.  Next two personnel loaded the scramjet vehicle and pressurized it.  They then remotely filled the SHARP tubes with the appropriate gases while maintaining a good vacuum in the launch tube.  Meanwhile the diagnostic team verified their high speed cameras were set to trigger and a countdown began.

At T=0 an electrical impulse was delivered to the combustion gasses in the pump tube.  The methane-air mixture was ignited and propelled a 1 ton piston down the 260 foot long pump tube at 300 meters per second. The piston compressed and heated the hydrogen ahead of it and when the pressure reached 6,000 psi the scramjet was released.  The scramjet was accelerated by the expanding hydrogen gas down the 140 foot launch tube in about 0.03 seconds.

The scramjet nose pierced a thin Mylar diaphragm at the end of the launch tube and flew into the open air.  Within 10 feet the engine turned on and the scramjet flew at high Mach number in to the diagnostic area where it was photographed to determine performance.

SHARP Vehicle in Flight at Mach 9
SHARP Vehicle in Flight at Mach 9

While SHARP was operating in 1996-1998 there were articles written in a range of magazines including Smithsonian Magazine, Popular Mechanics as well as several of our favorite tabloids.  These and other article and videos are in the References below.

Subsequent to the Scramjet work in 1998, the author left the project and returned to San Diego.  There were several more tests carried out and then the SHARP launcher was moved, ultimately residing in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson.

After completing Phases 1 and 2 at Yuma Proving Ground, using an on-site system, we will use a modified version of SHARP to perform the orbital launches of Phase 3.

The Yuma Proving Ground (YPG)

There are a handful of good candidate launch sites in the US. These include Poker Flat Research Range, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, White Sands and the Yuma Proving Ground.  We have visited them all and unanimously agree YPG is best suited for our Phase 1 Green Launch to the 100 km Karman Line.  

YPG is located 30 miles north-east of Yuma Arizona.  It is only a 4 hour drive from our base in San Diego, CA.  The YPG management is professional and is very accommodating regarding allocation of launch resources.

Airspace is unlimited in altitude above the KOFA test range which is located in the Eastern portion of YPG.  A map of  YPG  below shows the KOFA test range where we will be working.

Yuma Proving Ground with KOFA Test Range on East Side
Yuma Proving Ground with KOFA Test Range on East Side

The YPG staff has allowed us to use different barrels from earlier projects. These range from 7 inch by 55 foot long tubes to the 16 inch by 119 foot HARP gun that set the world altitude record in 1966.  In addition the bunkers for housing personnel during the launches are comfortable, most have air conditioning and some even have refrigerators!

The Green Launch Team Near the 16 Inch HARP Gun
The Green Launch Team Near the 16 Inch HARP Gun

 

Measuring the Candidate 8 Inch by 53 Foot Gun Tube
Measuring the Candidate 8 Inch by 53 Foot Gun Tube

 

A Bunker With Air Conditioning and a Refrigerator
A Bunker With Air Conditioning and a Refrigerator

There is a museum on-site where one can see the accomplishments of YPG including the current record altitude launch to 180 km using a HARP gun in 1966.

YPG Museum Curator with 2 Green Launch Members
YPG Museum Curator with 2 Green Launch Members

The very active KOFA test range is an ideal location for vehicle tracking with RADAR, optical tracking, telemetry and payload recovery.

KOFA Test Range with Test Director and Green Launch members
KOFA Test Range with Test Director and Green Launch members

The paperwork for the Phase 1 launch to the Karman Line is nearing approval.  Phase 1 will consist of 5 horizontal test launches and then 5 near vertical test launches to the Karman Line.  With your help we will make them happen.

Learn More at our Green Launch Web Page and Facebook Page

http://greenlaunch.org/

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Green%20Launch

References

  • Howwegettonext:  Q&A with Dr. John Hunter.  The Man That Wants to Shoot the Moon.  https://howwegettonext.com/q-a-dr-john-hunter-b3b2af5bbf71#.9gyjpv1g4
  • The Space Show Broadcast 2792 Dr. John Hunter   http://www.thespaceshow.com/show/09-oct-2016/broadcast-2791-dr.-john-hunter
  • Google Tech Talks "Cannons to the Planets"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IXYsDdPvbo
  • “Shooting Right For the Stars With One Gargantuan Gas Gun”, Richard Wolkomir, Smithsonian, January 1996, pages 84-91
  • “The Jules Verne Gun”, Scott Gourley, Popular Mechanics, December 1996, pages 54-57

Risks and challenges

The challenges of Green Launch to the Karman Line are maintaining good engineering practice and keeping the project simple, transparent and affordable. We have lots of experience with hydrogen gas guns and high speed vehicles having worked on the SHARP project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Our experience when working with facilities like YPG is that there is a requirement for Safety Notes, Environmental Assessment and Design Reviews as well as Operating Safety Procedures. The test plan will be performed in accord with YPG test protocol and YPG personnel will attend all the launches.

The performance of hydrogen gun launch is predictable and repeatable. The physics is highly Newtonian with (usually) few surprises. We have test data as well as computer simulations to focus our design towards the Phase 1 goal. That goal is to deliver payloads in excess of 100 Km altitude. To break in the system we will be initially performing horizontal tests with substantial diagnostics including high speed cameras and strain gages.

Only after the horizontal testing is complete will we turn our focus to the near vertical launches in the KOFA range area of YPG.

The launches to the Karman Line will be performed in the KOFA range which is an active test range over 60 km long and 30 km wide. We have already visited our intended launch site as well as the payload recovery area which is near the eastern portion of KOFA range.

On site diagnostics include high speed cameras as well as Radar. One challenge will be tracking the vehicle at 100 km altitude. The YPG Radar does have the required tracking capability however we also intend to have an on-board GPS with telemetry to signal altitude during the flight.

The ultimate goal/challenge of this Phase 1 is recovering sample gases for understanding climate change. We will use parachute recovery of the three 4" long by 1.25" diameter sample containers. The gas samples will be located in the KOFA range via telemetry trackers and they will be recovered for analysis.

On a light note, one of our rewards for backers is the delivery of DNA specimens in the form of licked stamps, to the Karman Line. Here the challenge is to both verify the Karman Line was reached as well as parachute recovery of the DNA payloads. These challenges are the same as for the gas sample recovery. We therefore will have a tight focus on recovery of both gas samples as well as the DNA specimens.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Internet Video Access

    Exclusive internet video access to Karman Line testing and launches at YPG. This will be a monthly video progress report.

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    Tattoo You!

    Your name will be laser engraved on one of the Mini-Mart payloads launched to the Karman Line. A video and photographs will be taken of the laser engraved names.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    GREEN LAUNCH AUTOGRAPHED POSTER

    GREEN LAUNCH POSTER (SIGNED!)
    Photograph of Hydrogen gas gun Launch of payload to the Karman line. 17" by 22" poster in vivid color captures the moment of launch when the Mini-Mart hypersonic launch vehicle is hurtled towards the boundary of space.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Karman Line Launch Medal

    Coin / medallion to celebrate achieving Karman Line Launch. Note that each reward level includes the rewards of the lower levels.

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    Attend Green Launch Barbeques in Yuma

    Invitation to monthly celebration BBQs with Green Launch team at Martinez Lake Cantina. (excludes travel and housing)

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Funding period

- (35 days)