From sewer pipe to space capsule

Original blog in danish by Mads Stenfatt.
 
Dear readers,
 
A couple of days ago, our chairman very poetically stated:

"To develop the tenth man-rated space capsule in the history of spacetravel is complicated, but to develop the first man-rated space capsule for a suborbital mission is unique."

“To develop the tenth man-rated space capsule in the history of spacetravel is complicated, but to develop the first man-rated space capsule for a suborbital mission is unique.”


Thus the seed for the revived work within the space capsule study group has been planted.
 
As described previously, we are preparing a test investigating the capsule touchdown angle resulting in the softest landing possible.

SCTA01-1 (Scaled Capsule Test Article 01-1)

This obviously demands a scale model of a space capsule in order to test this. We want the scale model to be as large as possible, but this being a preliminary study, it must be cheap as well. To accomplish this, we came up with using a sewer pipe, to which we can add an end cap with the correct shape, and the stabilising fins.
 
Simple, easy, cheap.
 
And then again not.
 
As it turned out, the pipe was a bit too thickwalled for the scale we aimed at. Now what? To remedy this we have come up with a fabulous solution, which again confirms that the main part of our project is more about the infrastructure surrounding the rocket launch, than it is about the rocket itself.

Machine for hollowing out a space capsule.

Below a short picture series showing what it entails to adjust the mass of SCTA01 to fit the chosen scale size.

First off we need to cut the pipe to the correct length.

Ceci ne pas une capsule spatiale. A large pipe cutter fabricated by Martin has been loaded with the pipe for SCTA01. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Ceci ne pas une capsule spatiale. A large pipe cutter fabricated by Martin has been loaded with the pipe for SCTA01. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Jens is marking the cutting line. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Jens is marking the cutting line. Photo: Rune Henssel.

The pipe on the scales. Photo: Rune Henssel.

The pipe on the scales. Photo: Rune Henssel.

The pipe has been cut to length. Photo: Rune Henssel.

The pipe has been cut to length. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Fabrication of the bearing frame for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Fabrication of the bearing frame for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Test assembly of the bearing frame for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Test assembly of the bearing frame for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Drilling of the center hole in the lathe tool carrier for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Drilling of the center hole in the lathe tool carrier for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Drilling of the center hole in the lathe tool carrier for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Drilling of the center hole in the lathe tool carrier for the pipe miller. Photo: Rune Henssel.

The lathe tool carrier is mounted. Photo: Mads Stenfatt.

The lathe tool carrier is mounted. Photo: Mads Stenfatt.

So now everything was ready for operation “hollow out a space capsule”, and this is how it looked when we started the operation on the scale model:
 

And now the time has come to start fabricating an end cap and a number of stabiliser fins in several shapes and sizes. We are also working on obtaining an agreement with a public swimming pool, to gain access to a facility where we can perform the planned droptests. Expect lots of data and pictures from the droptests.

It would be really swell to be able to have a mini-Randy aboard the scaled test vehicle. Consider this a shout out to anyone having a test dummy, heigth approx 46 cm (18 inches), we’d like to borrow it for the test 🙂

Other activities

We are working on many different subprojects concurrently. Below is shown our fabrication of more BPM-2 engines, needed for our tests with the TEOS (TetraEthyl OrthoSilicate) fuel additive.

Martin at the lathe, turning pressure sensor interfaces for the BPM-2 engines. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Martin at the lathe, turning pressure sensor interfaces for the BPM-2 engines. Photo: Rune Henssel.


In addition, our “never ending project” of finding the best way to measure LOX (Liquid OXygen) level in our tanks, is still ongoing. Most recently, Emil has developed a capacitive instrument which he is seen testing on the below picture.

Emil is testing an instrument for capacitively measuring LOX level. Photo: Rune Henssel.

Emil is testing an instrument for capacitively measuring LOX level. Photo: Rune Henssel.


And that concludes the bulletin from the CS workshop …
 
Ad Astra,

Mads Stenfatt

4 thoughts on “From sewer pipe to space capsule

  1. Fabulous post! This may not translate but surely instead of calling it SCTA01-1 you should call it SCAT 01-1 as it is made out of a sewage pipe 🙂

  2. Very scatological. 😉
    You could call the test series SCaT (Scaled CApsule Test).

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