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Open Source Outer Space: How A Couple Of Guys Are Building A Homemade Rocket Ship for the Masses

Open Source Outer Space: How A Couple Of Guys Are Building A Homemade Rocket Ship for the Masses 92

Anyone with enough brains and balls can build their own rocket and fly it to space. Or at least that’s what the non-profit, open source space project Copenhagen Suborbitals wants to prove.

In September, Motherboard scuttled out to Denmark to meet the pioneers behind this new wave in do-it-yourself space exploration to find out how these backyard space rockets are made. Founded in 2008 by two amateur engineers and entrepreneurs, Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, Copenhagen Suborbitals is now comprised of a coterie of 20-plus specialists determined to create the first homemade, manned spacecraft to go into suborbital flight.

If successful–a manned launch is projected for sometime in the next few years–Denmark would be the fourth country in the world, after China, to successfully launch a manned rocket into space. What’s exceptional about such a feat, if completed, will be Kristian and Peter’s ability to do so on a shoestring budget of a few hundreds of thousands of dollars, versus the tens of millions of dollars it costs government-funded agencies and the rising tide of private companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic or Bigelow.

And so far, their accomplishments are impressive: their solid-and-liquid-fuel rocket, the HEAT-1X, is the first “amateur” rocket flown with a payload of a full-size crash test dummy, and the first to perform a successful Main Engine Cut-Off, or MECO command, and the first launched from a “low budget” sea-based platform. It’s also the most powerful amateur rocket ever flown.

If you’re trying to go to space, there’s no point in being tight-lipped about it. By making the spaceflight project open-source, Copenhagen Suborbitals were not only able to attract space-crazed specialists to volunteer their human capital in exchange for being part of something new and exciting, but they also raised donations, product support and constructive feedback from avid followers from all over the world. They haven’t specifically said how much they need to raise, but they estimate that a typical launch should eventually cost 50,000 Euros, or about $63,000 dollars. Today, they continue to raise donations using an IndieGogo campaign.

Open Source Outer Space: How A Couple Of Guys Are Building A Homemade Rocket Ship for the Masses 93

One man’s kitchen sink valve is another rocket man’s missing component. A D.I.Y. spaceflight project can start with a good rummage at your local plumbing or hardware store. With everyday, off-the-shelf products, the guys behind Copenhagen Suborbitals found cheaper solutions to expensive, complex systems.

“Instead of trying to invent our own valve for instance, why not buy one that’s been produced maybe a million times,” explained Kristian. He said they used a hair dryer in one of the first rocket tests in order to prevent one of the valves from freezing up.

Copenhagen Suborbitals doesn’t operate within limits but rather works around edges. Money and technology are hard to come by, sure, but limitations can often be a blessing in disguise. Instead of shelling out money they didn’t have in order to rent an expensive centrifuge at a NASA research center, the Copenhagen guys went to their local amusement park, the legendary Tivoli Gardens, and turned up the levels on a mechanical ride in order to test a g-force threshold for the eventual launch of their spaceship.

The pair has twice test launched their Tycho Brahe spacecraft–named after the 16th century Danish astronomer known for his remarkably accurate astronomical observations made without the aid of a telescope. In 2010 a power shortage caused a valve to freeze shut, which prevented launch. In 2011 the rocket was successfully launched, reaching an altitude of 2.8 kilometers (1.7 mi) before the engine was shut off due to an undisclosed anomaly.

Open Source Outer Space: How A Couple Of Guys Are Building A Homemade Rocket Ship for the Masses 94

As opposed to an orbital trajectory, a suborbital flight is essentially a parabolic flight that looks like a massive u-turn from earth to space and back, in a matter of roughly 15 minutes.

With each failed launch test, Copenhagen Suborbitals get closer to disproving the idea that space travel is too complex, expensive and sophisticated an endeavor for the little guys to take on. Mistakes and accidents are as helpful as they are dangerous, which is why Copenhagen Suborbitals emphasizes the value on continual testing of systems. “My constant fight is to keep the quality low,” explained Peter, who cut his engineering teeth on three submarine projects. “If the work is extra good, it takes extra long, and costs extra more.” Basically, if the quality gets too high, then the space rocket will never get finished.

Rocket engines, launch escape systems and parachutes make up the gamut of systems that get tested. Since Copenhagen Suborbitals is bereft of the red tape and regulations characteristic of federally or commercially funded space projects, Kristian explained that his team can go from a revised sketch to an improved prototype, sometimes in less than five minutes. That’s far quicker than NASA, of course, where he helped to design new moon rovers and co-authored the agency’s Human Integration Design Handbook.

Open Source Outer Space: How A Couple Of Guys Are Building A Homemade Rocket Ship for the Masses 95

Static test of the HEAT-1XP rocket engine. The thrust is of about 7 tons. That’s like the power of a charging adult elephant. (Credit: Copenhagen Suborbitals)

Days before airing our video, we checked in with Kristian to get the latest update on the progress of their spacecraft and an eventual date for their first manned launch to take place. He got back to us briefly, tantalizing in his vagueness: “new capsule coming up and much more…” (He’s charted CO’s progress in 2012 in an elegant, impressive timeline on his Wired blog.)

There’s another engine test scheduled for the end of the month, and development of another capsule. The team haven’t yet set a firm date for the first manned launch, which will send Peter into sub-orbit. Until then, the pair are trying to keep their head down, raise funds, and stay on schedule, just like the pros. It’s a routine they clearly relish. When we asked Kristian what scare him most, he thought for a moment. “I’m afraid I won’t know what to do next if this actually works.”

Source www.popsci.com

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New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a “ghost” particle that makes up dark matter

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a "ghost" particle that makes up dark matter 98
Photo: Daniel Molybdenum, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have found that the mysterious high-energy radiation emitted from the vicinity of a group of neutron stars may indicate the existence of axions – not yet discovered particles within the framework of New Physics, the search for which has been going on since 1977. It is assumed that special types of axions form dark matter. This is reported in an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The research is summarized in a press release on Phys.org.

It is believed that axions can form in the core of neutron stars and transform into photons in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. To detect the electromagnetic radiation associated with axions, you need to find stars that do not emit radiation at different wavelengths that can mask the desired signal. 

These objects include the Magnificent Seven neutron stars that emit only X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. They are located at a distance of 200-500 parsecs from the Earth.

The researchers ruled out the scenario that the excess X-rays produced by the Magnificent Seven are actually emitted by other, more distant objects. These sources would be found in datasets from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray space telescopes.

The extra X-rays likely originate from axions hitting an extremely strong electromagnetic field billions of times stronger than the magnetic fields that could be created on Earth, the scientists concluded. The axions themselves resemble neutrinos in their properties, since both have insignificant masses and rarely and weakly interact with matter.

The axion is currently viewed as the most promising candidate for dark matter particles, since another hypothetical candidate, the massive WIMP particle, has gone unnoticed in experiments aimed at detecting it. 

In addition, there may be a whole family of axion-like particles that form dark matter, as suggested by string theory. If axions are found, it will prove that there is a whole new area of ​​physics outside the Standard Model describing the properties of all known particles.

To find out, the next step will be to study white dwarfs, which are not expected to emit X-rays.

“If we see an abundance of X-rays there too, our arguments will be pretty compelling,” said lead author Benjamin Safdie.

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The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 99

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 100

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 101
Photo: 
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

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Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 102
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

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