Starchaser Eco-Rocket Progress Report
Sept. 15, 2010
A successful launch of the Eco-Rocket is important to Starchaserâ€™s future manned space flight programme as it will test fly the major components of the Launch Escape System (LES) that could be used to save the lives of Starchaser astronauts aboard the Thunderstar space tourism vehicle.
Stage one of the LES project was to design and build a pilot scale rocket motor and to decide upon the most suitable candidate propellant combinations. Stage two was to build and test a full sized (1 tonne equivalent thrust) rocket motor and to test that motor in a static test rig. Stage three is where we are currently at; where we are fitting the motor and its various systems into an airframe with a view to launching as a rocket in its own right. Once proved, Stage four will see the LES rocket attached to the top of the Nova 2 capsule and rocket, where shortly after launch, the LES will be fired up and used to pull the capsule clear of the booster rocket.
The Starchaser 3 launch pad and tower has been assembled and is undergoing overhaul and modification to accept the Eco-rocket which at xx diameter is slightly larger than the Starchaser 3 and Starchaser 3a rockets that were originally flown from it.
The launch pad and tower are designed to protect the rocket prior to flight and to orientate and keep the rocket stable for the first few moments following rocket motor ignition.
The main airframe components for the rocket have been test fitted together with the engine, tanks and plumbing contained therein. The airframe was then disassembled prior to overwrapping with two extra layers of epoxy glass. With the exception of the fin canister these components are now awaiting final machining. The fin canister has already been surface finished and is currently being fitted with its fins.
An emergency abort test circuit has been built and successfully tested in the laboratory. A flight ready version is now under construction with a view to field testing shortly. This circuit is vital to flight safety as it will be used to shut down the rocket during flight should any emergency situation arise.