Fri, 10/29/2010 – 21:25 — Tim Pickens RCSP team leader
The Rocket City Space Pioneers had two representatives (Janet Felts, RCSP Project Coordinator, and I) from Huntsville, Ala., in New Mexico last week for a big event featuring commercial space talk/presentations and exhibits, to include the New Mexico Spaceport Runway dedication and Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flyover.
I was invited out to New Mexico to be on a space panel with Robert Bigelow, Mark Sirangelo, and Grant Anderson to talk about “Establishing the Commercial Space Market/Ways to Match Private Capital Investment Strategies with Funding Sources.” The week was filled with awesome videos and stories of space company goals and technical accomplishments.
We got to meet folks from Virgin Galactic, not only those who are supporting and working in the organization, but also folks who have bought tickets to fly to space on SpaceShipTwo. They were really excited to see the flyover.
We even got to fire a rocket engine that we built and gave to Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace. The engine is an exact copy of what we designed/developed for the Bigelow Sundancer module over the last two years. Jay Ingham and Robert Bigelow brought the engine from Las Vegas, and we brought in the hydrogen and oxygen. Pat Hynes kicked off the firing with a two- to three-second continuous firing followed by a few pulses. It was loud, disruptive, and fun. This test firing took place in a small amphitheatre located behind the New Mexico Farm and Heritage Ranch Museum. I doubt any past concert ever sounded like this roaring rocket engine! We all loved it! The Bigelow team continued to fire it throughout the event.
You can watch a video of the firing on You Tube:
We got to spend some time with the Bigelow team talking about their interest in the moon and what their feelings are on robotics mission to the moon. Mr. Bigelow talked about his thoughts on mining Helium 3, and his plans to put habitats on the moon for long-term exploration.
We talked with Team Frednet’s lander provider Dave Masten of Masten Aerospace about our friendly competition to race to the moon. The fact is that Masten had won the Grumman Lander challenge and $1M last year, beating out Armadillo Aerospace. I made it clear to Dave that he is not welter weight and is in our team’s crosshairs.
All and all, it was a great week with commercial space doers who are making a difference. Now . . . we are back in Huntsville ready to do some design work.