Week four – Charlie’s new feet and nozzle…

In this post – Charlie’s new feet and nozzle; micro and macro propulsion progress; next rewards en route; book of the week; meet the team and more

Some vital components for Charlie, our Interplanetary CubeSat Mothership testbed, arrived this week. Replacement CubeSat feet, solar panel clips, remove before flight pin and tools and fixings to attach everything dropped through the letterbox yesterday. We’ll video their installation and put it up as part of the first video diary episode.

The kit of replacement feet, solar panel clips, remove before flight pin plus tools to help with installation

We received one more foot than we were expecting which is great as it means we have a spare to practice with when we start installing our microfluidics based attitude control system. This will involving machining three tiny nozzles on the space facing surfaces of each foot, plus the tiny pipework to feed them, all just a few hundred microns in diameter, so it is nice to know that we have a spare to practise with before we do what is likely to be a very fiddly install!

Plastic propulsion system nozzle and combustion chamber for fit check. Printed by an Ultimaker 3D printer

We also received the first 3D printed plastic prototype nozzle and combustion chamber for the main propulsion system. We’re in the process of shrinking our current benchtop propulsion prototype (which uses a machined brass prototype nozzle of the same design) to fit in the footprint of a CubeSat Kit compatible PC/104 card, and are just waiting for the tiny solenoid valves that will control the flow of fuel through the propulsion system to arrive before we lay everything out for a fit check. Once we’re sure everything lines up properly, we’ll 3D print the entire system in stainless steel so that we can fire it and confirm its performance. There will then follow a period of tweaking and optimisation, and once we are sure that everything is behaving as it should, we’ll 3D print everything in titanium for a full up test of the system installed in Charlie.

Everyone should now have received British Interplanetary Society (BIS) special membership emails – email support@pocketspacecraft.com if yours hasn’t arrived yet. e-Certificates of mission participation are now ready to go out, so check your inbox later this week for instructions describing how to download yours. The final reward to ship this month will be the first chapter of the serialised special edition e-book: ‘StarSailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel’ by Louis Friedman.

Thank you again to everyone who has volunteered their time and skills to the project via this form. Emails have been sent out to most volunteers with suggested ways you can help, if you’ve not received anything yet, don’t worry, yours is on the way! We’re going to keep this invitation to participate open for the foreseeable future, so if you’d like to participate hands on and add some interplanetary space exploration to your CV/résumé, let us know and we’ll be in touch.

This week our book recommendation is ‘Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD’ edited by Wertz, Everett and Puschell. This is more than a thousand pages (in fairly small type) of essential space mission engineering information covering spacecraft of all sizes. It is a university level textbook and probably something you will dip in and out of rather than trying to digest in a single go, but it is probably the most comprehensive single book to gain an understanding of what it takes to put a complete mission together. In case you’re wondering, SMAD is the abbreviation of the title of the previous edition – Space Mission Analysis and Design.

Next weekend we’ll be out and about on Saturday 28th September at the Raspberry PI @Bristol Boot Camp in Bristol, UK – come along and meet the team (including Charlie).

Don’t forget if you backed the original Kickstarter but haven’t converted your pledge yet, you need to do so soon to ensure you receive all the rewards described in the Kickstarter by filling in the form here – we have to close this offer in the near future. If you didn’t back the Kickstarter we can’t offer all the rewards originally offered, but if you fill in the form here you can still take part. If you indicate at what level you would like to participate, we’ll email you further details.

Thank you again to everyone for all your support – onwards to the Moon!

Michael and the Pocket Spacecraft team

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