New project structure
As promised in the previous CSTART blog entry, this entry will introduce our new set of 4 projects focused on technological foundations or building blocks for CSTART. At the moment, these 4 programs have very unimaginative code names, but in the very near future we will hold naming competitions to give them more imaginative and inspiring names and logos.
The first project is “PROJECT BALLOON”. The goal of this project is the design and construction of a family of high altitude balloon systems with reliable payload recovery capabilities – basically slightly more high tech versions of the very popular “camera on a weatherballoon” projects which many of you may have seen around the blogosphere. There are several motivations for PROJECT BALLOON. Firstly, it is cheap and safe relative to other projects, which increases our chances of seeing real progress on physical building of hardware in the near future. Secondly, it will allow us to perform testing of hardware for other projects in a near-space environment. We can test communication, navigation and other electronic equipment in high-altitude, low-pressure, low-temperature, higher radiation conditions which approximate the space environment at relatively low cost. Thirdly, it opens a potential source of revenue in the form of “space advertising”, as demonstrated by JP Aerospace.
The second project is “PROJECT ROCKET”. This is essentially an extension of the existing project OHKLA. Its goal is the design and construction of a family of safe and reliable hybrid rocket vehicles of increasingly capability, ranging from suborbital all the way up to orbital. The first stage of PROJECT ROCKET will be the construction of a hybrid rocket with the ability to reach 100 km of altitude, precisely as per OHKLA. Later stages will scale the technology up as far as we can manage. Wherever it makes sense, later stages of this project will reuse the work of earlier stages in the form of clustering and staging smaller rockets to make larger ones. All the engineering decisions and other work on OHKLA will be carried over to PROJECT ROCKET, e.g. the PROJECT ROCKET rockets will burn polyethylene and nitrous oxide. People with backgrounds in aerospace, chemical and mechanical engineering may find this project interesting.
The third project is “PROJECT CUBESAT”. This is essentially a ressurection of our earlier aborted attempt to “adopt” the now defunct Reddit Cubesat project. Its goal is the design and construction of a family of miniature satellites, based on the CubeSat specification. The ultimate goal of this project would be a family of modular CubeSat units which can be combined into 2U and 3U sized CubeSats to perform arbitrary goals in Low Earth Orbit. The subsystems of these satellites will provide starting points for the corresponding subsystems in later more ambitious projects, like lunar or planetary probes or manned spacecraft. Satellites designed under PROJECT CUBESAT People with backgrounds in communications and electronic engineering may find this project interesting.
The fourth project is “PROJECT MANNEDFLIGHT”. This project will subsume much of the work which was done on the existing project CLLARE. Its goal is the design and construction of a highly modular, minimalist manned spacecraft which is scalable via the use of modules through a range of flight profiles, from suborbital to circumlunar. The basic idea is to allow CSTART to expand into manned spaceflight in minimal steps, similar to the US progression through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, or the Soviet progression through the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz projects, but without wastefully creating entirely new spacecraft for each step.
These four projects do not, in and of themselves, have particularly significant or exciting results in terms of particular scientific or explorative goals they will allow CSTART to achieve, but if each project is carried out to completion we will have all of the individual building blocks – propulsion, navigation, communication, data processing, life support and reentry capabilities – needed to embark on a wide range of projects. The fruits of PROJECT CUBESAT will allow us to do real Earth and space science from LEO. The fruits of that project combined with those of PROJECT ROCKET will allow us to propell minimalist space probes out of Earth orbit, allowing us to gather data from other sites in the solar system. The fruits of PROJECT MANNEDFLIGHT will allow us to achieve CLLARE’s goal of landing people on the moon. Thus, these 4 foundational projects represent our efforts to pave the way for better things to come.
Stay tuned to this blog for updates on our competitions to name and design logos for these projects, as well as establishing more details and appointing people to positions on each project!