Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Delft trip part 3.... DARE Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering.

So. I am very much of the opinion "If you don't ask you don't get" and on the last day of my trip to Delft (part 1 blog here and part 2 blog here) I decided to walk back to the TUDelft campus and do some maths work for an hour in the amazing library and then see if I could find the DARE rocket facility and take a picture of the door or something! When I got to DARE however I could see that although it was a Sunday afternoon a few team members were in working in the facility. So... I rang the doorbell!

I explained to the friendly face of Bastiaan (Chief of Structures on Stratos III) that I had been over to attend and do a talk at the pocketqube workshop and that I was a rocket builder and a member of the  UK Rocketry Association UKRA and cheekily asked if I might peek in their facility and take a photo or 2. Rather brilliantly Bastiaan said yes.. and took a half hour out of his day to blow the mind of a rocketry guy from North Wales!

So above is a picture of Stratos II (so big it lives in a 3 storey stairwell!) which until very recently held the European altitude record for a none commercial rocket reaching 21.5 km in October 2015.

Stratos II from the second floor level!

Stratos II on the top floor! Actual flight payload section that held the record.

In the smaller Lab facility we looked at first. Part of the Aether airframe (Aether is a supersonic technology demonstrator project for DARE).

So many rocket parts everywhere I didn't know where to look! Lovely fin assemblies.

In the foyer of the laboratory this phalanx of rockets.. most destined for CANSAT duties but the one closest part of an active rocket stabilisation exploration project.

Nice 3d printed canard fins.

The cansat payload bays, each shelf takes 2 cansats, the deployer mechanism for the cansats is all mechanical rather than using an explosive charge, this means that the school teams who have built the cansats can be safely part of the integration process as well.

We then went to visit the machine shop..... My goodness... what a well specified space! Nice to see they had some similar EMCO's as the ones I trained on a while back. There was also paint rooms, welding bays, and composite rooms etc. Stunning.

Even in the machine shop there were rockets everywhere!

This was a rocket engine test stand, around 2metres in length.

Some of the stock ready to be turned into oxidiser tanks.

Massive, beautifully turned graphite nozzles and also mixer pieces.  These are around 25cm diameter for scale.

I need a lathe about this size in my life.

So.. there we go. I am still grinning about this visit! My final thoughts for this post are how can we get rocketry to this sort of level in the UK? I'd give a lot to see this. Thank you for letting me visit DARE you do amazing work, best wishes for success in all your varied projects.

Delft trip part 2.. HOLY NERDVANA!

So.. at the end of Delft trip Part 1 having spoken about the Pocketqube Workshop I alluded at the end that some of us went on a trip to see the groundstation setup on the top of the TUDelft building. It was so impressive but then our volunteer guide Kris casually said we might like to see the technology archive in the basement... It's fair to say we were all glad we went.. It is astonishing.

We were led through room after room of technology all beautifully curated and displayed and catalogued.. not normally open to the public it was explained that this was a technical archive but NOT a museum.. meaning anything could be touched and operated.  Completely run by volunteers I can't say how impressive it was enough! Massive photo dump below really doesn't do it justice. (Photo above...Loved spotting these early MIT books on the extensive bookshelves!)

The alley of oscilloscopes... 
This was one side of the original Heinrich Hertz experiment which discovered radio waves! A high frequency generator produced an arc and this is received on the other side of the experiment by a small neon tube... of course Having discovered radio waves Hertz famously said they would be of no use!

Early gyroscopic compass (about a metre tall!)

Lovely archive of old poster displays everywhere also!

Radios, pwer supplys, swr's ...so much kit!

Pascal... An enormous analogue calculator/computer...

My most favouritest switch ever... I suggested they should have all the archive lighting wired to this. :)

So many gauges (I have a small collection!) This Harland all the way from my home city.

Computer alley!

Be still my beating heart....

1.5 metre tall HDD anyone?

Delft trip part 1 POCKETQUBES

So last thursday I flew out to the Netherlands to go to and speak at the Pocketqube satellite workshop kindly hosted at TU Delft by Delfi Space. It was a pleasure and massive thanks to the team who put such an excellent event together.

With delegates and teams attending from all over the world (Wales, Scotland, England, Hungary, Israel, Switzerland, Netherlands) and people VOIP'ing in from Australia and Argentina it was truly a global affair and also crossed sectors well in terms of amateur teams through academic teams and full commercial companies speaking and an equally diverse audience in attendance.

The picture above is of me and Rakesh from Orion Space who is a passionate driving force trying to increase the interaction and interest in space engineering by students in Nepal, Rakesh is using his own resources to try and engage and build a program out there in the university of Kathmandu using CANSAT programs, model rocketry and Pocketqube development as platforms. I was honoured to give Rakesh (after using them in my talk) the chassis models I had with me for him to take back for his students to have a look at and play with.

 Frank from the European Space Agency started the workshop talks after an excellent introduction by Prof Eberhard Gill from Delfi Space and then followed a day with many Pocketqube teams speaking about their work and development on a range of subjects, to get a flavour of the day the workshop program is here

It was great to see everyones hardware/development models above is a photo of the ESA funded Alba Orbital Unicorn 2 satellite together with Hungarian team's Smog-1 hardware. 

There are so many photo's I could share of peoples presentations but for the sake of brevity I've just picked out the above as it is an inspiring photo.. this is a photo of a Skyfox labs PQ60 pocketqube board having been integrated into the mighty Upsat by the Librespace foundation which is currently sat inside an Atlas V5 rocket ready to be deployed at any time. It's exciting as it represents the first launch for hardware that is built to the PQ60 community developed standard. 

Also.. Skyfox labs gave out the best free swag at the workshop.. a nice usb drive and cool remove before flight tag.. Perfect!

The afternoon sessions were enjoyable and the workshop ended with a group discussion about standards, including mechanical standards and PQ60 and the proposed new standard from Delfispace. Its an interesting subject and it was good to see everyone in agreement that the Mechanical standard needs to be defined and published asap. The electrical standard... well.. there's probably a lot more discussion to be had!

 The day ended with an amazing trip to see the Delfispace groundstation setup on the roof of the 21 story TUDelft building. It was fabulous and Kris who showed us around really went out of his way outside of work hours to give us a good tour. Bedankt! He also showed us the technology hardware archive under the TUDelft building which is not normally open to public access.. but that requires a seperate post!
Sunset in the groundstation listening room.

 A commercial yagi setup on the roof!

Finally. Just want to thank all the Delfispace team for putting on an amazing event.