Saturday, August 31, 2013

Altitude Chamber Test Video

Klaus Mejling put together a video of the altitude chamber test. The crash in my oxygen saturation, mentioned by Kristian in the video, has been resolved as a known issue and is no longer a problem. The suit and life-support performed perfectly.

Direct link.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Galileo's Cage

GALILEO [describing a 17th century model of the cosmos to his student, ANDREA]: Here is a band with the sun on it and on the inside band is the moon.
ANDREA: Crystal spheres?
GALILEO: Like huge soap bubbles one inside the other and the stars are supposed to be tacked onto them. Spin the band with the sun on it. [Andrea does so]. You see the ball fixed in the middle?
GALILEO: That's the earth. For two thousand years man has had faith that the sun and all the host of stars circle about him. Well. The Pope, the cardinals, the princes, the scholars, captains, merchants...all pictured mankind squatting in the middle of an affair like that.
ANDREA: Like in a cage?
GALILEO: So you sensed that.
From 'Galileo' by Berthold Brecht. I'd sure like to see a stage production of this. I am getting a lot out of reading this a few times in the past few mind-boggling weeks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Altitude Chamber Check-Out

Alt chamber test all well. Whacked out at airport headed home. Suit worked. Self medically checked out for high balloon flight in 2015. Great week!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whittling Down the Bailout Time

We are getting the bailout time towards reasonable. Today I did 40 minutes in the launch position to look for points of pain, cramps, and so on. Afterwards, another bailout test, this time yet faster and more believable. Tomorrow -- free-fall test, and then Tuesday the Altitude Chamber here in Copenhagen! Bailout video below--in the background, the sounds of Peter building his giant liquid oxygen-alcohol rocket, to be tested this time next year. Also next year weøll be doing water landing training and starting to lay in the details of my 2015 balloon flight to 65,000 feet or so.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Capsule Escape!

An active day! I spent a long time in the capsule while Kristian made measurements to improve arrangement of controls and displays. In the suit, pressurized and with only a radio link to the 'outside world' it is quite clear that you are quite helpless and that if many systems built by many people do not work, you are going to have a rather terminal day. Ice water flows through hoses across my chest and arms and legs, and breathing gas hisses in my right ear ++ I turn that way for a good breath if things are getting muggy in the suit. If I make a sudden move my glove hardware makes a tremendous clang on the hollow capsule bulkhead. The idea of getting out of this thing quickly is funny. After a long while, at nearly 2psi John radios me to try to get out of the capsule, Kristian hops up and out and I am alone, I wriggle and puff mightily to make my way out and finally do it in about 40 seconds, quaffing down huge amoutns of breathing gas and spiking my suit temperature. Through the operation my mind flashes images of Ed White crawling out of his Gemini capsule for a spacewalk. When I open the visor I can barely speak from the excitement and after suitoff I take a long walk across acres of concrete burst here and there with sprouting vegetation. There are hollow knocks towards the harbor, I just sit down on a concrete block and try to slow my thoughts, watching airliner lights slide up or down in the distance. This 90-second 'capsule escape' has been one of the most intense experiences of my life!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Suitup in Copenhagen

Today will be all testing in the seat in the capsule -- my mind is aflame and still nobody is awake! I have to go out for a walk around this abandoned shipyard, where dozens of ships sit at docks or up on stilts, to calm down. There are strange citizens of this vast yard, squatters and hippies living in hulks that will never set to sea again. YouTube video shows the first suitup, itøs long, 30 min, and shows the whole procedure. We have a bad seal at first but the video doesnøt show the continuation later with a good seal and plenty of pressure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At Copenhagen Suborbitals now with (L to R) John Haslett, Peter Madsen (chief propulsion designer) and Kristian von Bengtson (capsule designer). Lots of news to write tomorrow. Good pressure test today. We're bunked in the apartment above the shop, wake in the AM, down a ladder and youøre in a Rocket Shop. Submarine and damaged prior space capsule outside on skids. Fantastic.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pressure Suit Ready for Testing at Copenhagen Suborbitals

A relentless week of hammering our final problems with the pressure suit resulted in a good checkout and pressurization last night, wrapping up around midnight. John and I walked Washoe Magruder home - she has helped enormously - then on our way back talked over the final issues. It's time to go, tomorrow morning! The checklist items now number about 182 and are streamlined to put me--and in Copenhagen, Peter Madsen and Kristian von Bengtson--into the suit, pressurize and test in the capsule seat and so on (blog update at WIRED). I will be happy to sleep on a plane to Denver, first, where I'll do an address for the Mars Society, then on a long, long flight and more sleep to Copenhagen to rebuild the system and start tests.

Photo shows me in the suit, all systems working; gases, communications, valves and the supply cabinet. I wish Angela were here to see how far the project has come since 2009!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Late Nights!

Project Alpha Team are working late into the night to prepare for integration with Copenhagen Suborbitals next week. Here, just a photo of the pressure suit and associated tools and installations. 4am and I am hammering away at checklists of checklists!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wrap Party

Tonight the Project Alpha team went out to demonstrate the suit at Destination DIY's Season Wrap Party at Bar Bar on Mississippi, and we had a great time finally taking a few hours to relax after eight months of pretty bland but demanding testing. We drank Vodka in honor of the Russian designs that we have copied, time and again, in building a simple but reliable home-built space suit. From L to R there's me (project director, suit testing, Copenhagen Suborbitals Life Support System test pilot), Washoe Magruder (coolant system, flight coverall, suit technician), John Haslett (systems integration, ground control, balloon test backup pilot), Nicholas Walleri (systems overview and integration), Ben Wilson (breathing regulators and suit testing) and Alexander Knapton (coolant system and suit technician). A great night out! Fifteen days until pressure chamber test in Copenhagen.