Updates update and progress

In this post – Updates update; aseptic assembly testbed, Pocket Mission Control, propulsion system, solar panel and other progress; rewards; book recommendations; TEDx competition, open house and more

We’ve had a very busy month bringing more people and parts of the project online including the aseptic assembly testbed, Pocket Mission Control, propulsion system, solar panels and more. Unfortunately the weekly updates have suffered in the process, so we’ve changed how they are produced to ensure that won’t happen again so our normal weekly update service will now resume – here’s a taste of what we’ve been doing and what’s coming up over the next few weeks:

We’ve started building and working with our tabletop aseptic assembly testbed. This is an enclosed sterile and cleanroom like work area that we’ll use for prototyping and testing the various components and processes that we will use when we start building the full flight hardware next year. As well as open sourcing our spacecraft designs we’ll be open sourcing the testbed design so if you want to build one yourself you’ll be able to do so.

Good progress continues to be made on the Pocket Mission Control app with the bulk of the backend code now up and running and fairly stable on all the platforms we support – Android, iOS, Mac OS and Windows for the app/client and Linux for the server code. Nan, our interaction designer, has made some dramatic improvements to the user interface of the app over the last few weeks, and she’s looking for half a dozen people willing to help provide feedback via a 30 minute Skype video call. If you’re interested in helping out, please email nan@pocketspacecraft.com with your name, Skype ID, your timezone and when you might typically be available to have such a call and she’ll be in touch.

Propulsion system development is going well with the latest prototype version of the 3D printed nozzle, combustion chamber, electrolysis system and supporting electronics coming together nicely. We’re still refining the various parts of the system and printing and testing in plastic for cost and turnaround time reasons – we can make plastic prototypes in house the same day, whereas metal prints need to go out to a bureau, but we’re close to the point where it will make sense to do a print in a material that could actually be launched, first stainless steel and then titanium.

Work on solar panel design is going well as we work to achieve a good balance of performance, cost, ease of assembly and ‘genericness’. We’ll go into this in more detail next week when we’ll also be announcing a competition we think you’ll enjoy.

Rewards shipped to backers to date include the special British Interplanetary Society memberships, e-certificate of participation and the the first installment of the serialised special edition e-book: ‘StarSailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel’ by Louis Friedman. If you are missing any of these items, please check your spam filters/junk mail folder and if you still can’t find them let us know via this form so we can help.

Thank you again to everyone who has volunteered their time and skills to the project via this form. Emails are sent out to volunteers with suggested ways you can help in the order we receive the requests. 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.

We regularaly post conference and book recommendations on Twitter as well as other bits and pieces, so please follow us if you don’t already! Some of the books we’ve recommended recently include:

We’ll be presenting at TEDx Bristol on the 11th November 2013 and have a pair of VIP tickets to give away. If you are a backer of the project, email competition@pocketspacecraft.com before the end of today (Saturday 26th October 2013 – all time zones) confirming that you will be able to travel to Bristol, United Kingdom at your own expense to attend the full TEDx Bristol conference, and we’ll randomly select someone to receive the tickets from the emails we receive before the deadline and announce the winner next week.

If you’d like to visit us and meet some of the team, we have an informal open house on the first Friday of each month from 2-4PM. Email support@pocketspacecraft.com if you’d like to join us next week at our offices in Bristol, United Kingdom and see some of the cool stuff we’re working on in the flesh.

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 are about to close this offer. 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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