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Thread: Rockets and piston pumps

  1. #1
    Charter Member adiffer's Avatar
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    Rockets and piston pumps

    One of the things that makes rocket engines expensive is the turbopump that tends to be specially designed to match the engine. If you want to tweak the engine design you might have to redo the turbopump and that cost tends to prevent incremental improvement.

    XCor prefers to dodge that limitation and designed a piston pump. I've seen one working and it sounds like a 19th century throwback. They've talked about how it will keep their costs down when they build the full-sized engines, but until recently they didn't have all the pieces together. Now they do.

    Here is the recent engine test video. For a space frontier advocate like me, this is important stuff. This is how private enterprise will open the next frontier. Wanna ride one?

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  2. #2
    Charter Member adiffer's Avatar
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    Listen to the audio just before the engine ignites and you'll hear the pump doing its clickety-click purring. 8)


    Here is the press release.
    http://www.xcor.com/press-releases/2...milestone.html
    Last edited by adiffer; 03-26-2013 at 05:22 PM.
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  3. #3
    Charter Member tomwaltman's Avatar
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    Al, Aerojet has many years experience in this stuff. They are, nominally, a private company. Do they participate in these kinds of innovations? Or are they locked in to the governmental model? I think it is pretty cool to be seeing the first stages of private space exploration. I was watching a tv show on Titan last night. They were explaining that Titan's oceans are made up of methane. My first thought was: How do we make commercial use of that energy source? Titan is close enough that we could do this in our lifetimes.

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  4. #4
    Charter Member adiffer's Avatar
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    Aerojet tends to operate as a gov't contractor. They could break out of that if they wanted to, but the unit that started doing that would effectively compete with the rest of the company. I don't know too many corporations that will intentionally do that.

    What I expect to happen in the coming years if this company and others succeed is they will be purchased by the larger engineering companies. Tentative steps are already occuring through partnerships. Note the Boeing logo on the test stand in the video. There is concern that they will be purchased in order to be shut down, but tax payers are the solution to that risk. All you have to do is stop or slow the funding to government operated space projects. Tax rebellions and sequestrations are something these contractors must take seriously... and they do.

    Titan is a LONG way out there. If you want lots of methane, go dig up the methane hydrate layers on the bottom of the ocean. Japan is seriously considering this approach already. It's a lot cheaper than cargo transport from Titan. 8)

    If you want to see what is most likely going to be commercially mined in space, look at the small asteroid mining operations that are pursuing money and making deals.

    http://www.planetaryresources.com/
    http://deepspaceindustries.com/

    I know a couple of people in the first group and they are self-funding as far as I know. I know more of the people in the second group and I think they have to raise capital. DSI's director of mining ops is the guy who taught me how to think about space mining years ago. He has a lot of industry experience on the terrestrial side.

    The first thing I suspect any of them will mine for a profit will be water. There is a lot of it up there and with a little effort it can be cracked to make rocket fuel and oxidizer. If you bring along a small supply of other chemicals you've got a lot of potential for providing the basics any other economic entity needs out there.
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    Charter Member kindrlindr's Avatar
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    I am saving this for my sons. They will understand the significance of it........I don't ;o)

  6. #6
    Charter Member adiffer's Avatar
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    Everything is changing as far as space commerce goes. With the Feds finally running out of easy money, they are doing what we thought they might. Unessentials are getting trimmed a bit and Senators are scrambling to find some way to keep their voters in the industry employed. My friends step in and swoop up some of the people and offer them a better option. We were hoping it would happen years ago, but some of the internet millionaires and billionaires are helping out now. Better late than never. 8)
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  7. #7
    Charter Member adiffer's Avatar
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    Masten has lots of videos to watch. They document pretty much everything they do and then post it on YouTube.

    Their engine plumes look different than many other groups. Masten specializes in precision navigation and custom-made engines. Watch the Mars EDL trajectory videos and you'll see them working a product line other companies might want to buy from them. Watch the pure engine tests (like Katana shake-down videos) and you'll see the work they originally did when they first started. The precision landing work won them a lot of money in a prize contest and they had to come from the underdog position to do it. 8)

    http://www.youtube.com/mastenspace
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