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STARCHASER ESA REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

03/11/2010

Starchaser we partner with many colleges and universities in our R&D Outreach Programme. The following is a list of undergraduate project ideas that are open to all. Students wishing to become involved in any of these projects should contact us at info@starchaser.co.uk

1) Vibration detector; Starchaser Industries Ltd is developing a reusable rocket launch system for space tourism applications. A typical space tourism flight will last for 23.5 minutes, where the occupants of Starchaserís three person Thunderstar capsule will experience weightlessness and see the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earthís horizon from an altitude of more than 100km. The duration of powered flight however will last only 70 seconds but this will be the riskiest part of the mission, particularly in terms of potential vibration or oscillations caused by the propulsion system. Such vibrations may be dangerous as they could damage human tissues or cause mechanical failure, leading to the loss of the mission. This project therefore will centre upon the design, construction and testing of a sensing system that could be used to monitor the vibration from a Starchaser rocket engine. This project could also include research into the human limits for vibration in order to provide a better understanding of tolerable levels for manned rocket flights.

2) Data-logger project; design and build a solid state data-logger as a payload to fly aboard a Starchaser educational rocket. After launch the data will be downloaded and interpreted in relation to the observed test flight.

3) Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU); design, build and test an IMU to record acceleration, in terms of pitch, roll and yaw during the course of a Starchaser rocket flight. The work could be tackled as a stand alone project or further divided into simpler sub-projects. It would involve the use of accelerometers and / or gyroscopes and would also link to the data logger project above.

4) Model rocket recovery system; design, build and test a novel way to recover a model rocket from altitude without using a parachute.

5) Rocket Floatation device; design, build and test a scale model of a deployable water floatation aid for marine recoverable rockets.

6) Rocket Guidance Project; theoretically define a system for steering a rocket in flight by means of gimbaling its engine. Produce a mathematical model or software program that can be used to calibrate such a system. Determine how much the engine nozzle should be angled in order to provide the desired movement and describe how such a system might eliminate hunting around the target flight-path. The work should essentially aim to define Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) control loops and theory. Simulations should be carried out on the computer, in 3D if possible, to demonstrate feedbacks.

7) Impulse Turbine Blade Design: design an impulse turbine to deliver propellants into the combustion chamber of a Starchaser rocket engine sufficient for sustained flight. The project would assume steam power drives the turbine and it could look at the basic theory and also the new materials that are available. The choice of material would likely determine the diameter and maximum speed the turbine could safely run at.

8) General turbo-pump system design based upon theoretical results but drilling down to individual component level so as to design the seals, rotor casings etc in Pro-Desktop or Pro-E CAD software. Also carry out finite element analysis (where possible) to validate the design. This would include material choices etc similar to turbine project (8). Projects 8 & 9 would be similar enough to be undertaken together if required.

9) Electromagnetic launcher / rail gun; build a simple demonstration unit that could be used as an educational demonstrator for use in Starchaserís schools outreach programme.

10) Design, build and demonstrate a working model of a cold gas (nitrogen) Reaction Control System (RCS) thruster for use in manoeuvring a Starchaser spacecraft during high altitude sub-orbital flight.

                           

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