SSTO

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SSTO

Postby rick m » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:34 am

Sugar Shot to Space SSTS could become Sugar Shot to Orbit SSTO.
I didn't think it was possible but after doing some calculations, we have developed the plan/specs for going into orbit with sugar power. Unfortunately, the cost for the propellant works out to be approximately $6,000 US. Though this makes winning the N-Prize out of the question for sugar, we have started working on an orbital vehicle. Static testing of the three upper stage motors will start next month.

Rick
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Re: SSTO

Postby SANEAlex » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:53 pm

Have you tried getting sponsorship from a big sugar company like Tate and Lyle? they sponsored Starchaser for a while i am not sure if they still do but even if they wont do a full sponsorship they might give you a good deal on the sugar as successful launch would promote their product in a new area as i think Starchaser got quite high but not to orbit iirc.
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Re: SSTO

Postby rick m » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:43 am

We haven't yet though we are planning to do that when we have a working DoubleSShot; world's largest, to date, sugar rocket motor with 12 six inch diameter grains (160+ pounds total of propellant) expected to go to 120,000'. The first static test of the motor ended in CATO.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1HrFNp-p9g

We have a number of sugar producers that have been contacted that have shown an interest. The space shot will require 900 pounds of sugar propellant and with at least two static tests before flight we are talking over a ton of sugar needed.

We believe in sharing what we do, both our successes and failures so that others can learn. We are excited about our findings for getting not only into space but an orbital vehicle powered by sugar. I will post our progress here but you can see all of our work at
http://www.sugarshot.org/

Rick
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Re: SSTO

Postby pauldear » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:23 pm

Hey Rick,

An SSTO would be a wonderful achievement, whether inside or outside the N-Prize. How does the propellant cost break down? How about a team of supporters harvesting those free sugar packets from diners around the US....nah, I guess not. Sorry about the CATO, but go go go!

Best,
Paul
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Re: SSTO

Postby rick m » Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:43 am

Hi Paul,

Using the six stage vehicle proposal we have:
propellant mass
1st stage 4,892.57
2nd stage 59.33
3rd stage 20.73
4th stage 7.24
5th stage 2.53
6th stage 0.88
total 4,983.28 pounds

We are currently paying about $2 a pound for our potassium nitrate (oxidizer) and $0.47 a pound for our sorbitol (fuel) with a 65/35 ratio. If we bought everything by the pallet we could bring the price down. When we get the 'sub-orbital' vehicle perfected, we plan on offering college and universities flights for their payloads in the $5,000 - $25,000 price range.

We once made rocket propellant out of wood pencil sharpener shavings soaked in a saturated solution of KNO3 that were then packed and dried. When NASA had money problems, and when don't they, my students suggested all the schools send NASA their shavings.

My afterschool rocket club students and I tried making propellants out of everything, ground up dry tree leaves, moldy hot dogs, you name it, we tried it.

Rick
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Re: SSTO

Postby pauldear » Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:24 am

Heya Rick,

Wowwww - that is a lot of oomph in one place. Just out of curiosity, can you buy the oxidiser as agricrultural fertiliser? I remember from a long time ago that potassium nitrate is pretty easy to purify by recrystallization (make a saturated solution in near-boiling water; cool to room temperature and what precipitates out is almost pure KNO3), and fertilizers must surely be way cheaper than $2/lb. (But maybe not; I just checked fertilizer prices, and was getting numbers between £300 and £400/tonne, or maybe $0.3/lb, but only a percentage of this will be KNO3.)

Also, I recall that during WW2 schoolchildren were recruited to collect horse chestnuts, because the "meat" of them* is mostly starch; the aim was to use them as a feedstock to make acetone. (*of the nuts, that is, not of the children.) There must be plenty of thing you can use as fuel (maybe ground-up plastic?), but I guess that's not your main cost.

On the other hand, rocket science is tough enough as it is, without having to move into industrial chemistry as well...

cheers,
Paul
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Re: SSTO

Postby rick m » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:27 am

While it seems like just yesterday, a few years ago I was able to purchase KNO3 locally for $0.40 a pound US. The latest prices are now way over a dollar and for the specs we need the cheapest is now $2.00 a pound. We did look at a Chinese source that proved only cheaper if we bought an entire container full (20 metric tons) but after all the importer fees, import duties, customs, shipping and storage it came to about the same price as the more expensive domestic stuff that was delivered to our location in smaller quantities.

Recrystallization and other methods do work but for large quantities it's just not practical...trying to get us under the cost limitation for the N-Prize ?

Rick
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Re: SSTO

Postby pauldear » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:34 pm

Welllll, I guess getting into N-Prize budgets would be a bit of a stretch.

People used to collect potassium (or possibly sodium) nitrate from stables, where it accumulated from horse-pee. If it's any help, I've got a horse I could lend you...

In any event, best of luck - it'll be a beautiful thing, inside or outside the N-Prize.

Yours,
Paul
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Re: SSTO

Postby rick m » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:17 am

Because of concerns over government regulations concerning the sale of nitrates here we looked at the 'old methods' that were used for getting nitrates.
Last year when I went to a local business for some he asked me to buy all that he had because new regulations were going to make it too costly to keep it in stock. This video shows the result:

http://www.youtube.com/user/solidskateb ... wpmPgUQ0X8

We are actually experimenting with a new propellant formulation that uses both KNO3 and NaNO3 combined with the sugar. I will be testing some motors this weekend at the FAR site using these propellants.

Rick

ps Dan and I are still friends ( :
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Re: SSTO

Postby pauldear » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:32 am

Hey Rick,

Great video! Out of interest, are other oxidisers any easier/cheaper to obtain, and do they work? For instance, ammonium nitrate, perchlorates (unstable, I guess), chlorates, or even peroxide? (I'm sure you've thought of or tried all these, but my ignorance knows no bounds!)

Cheers,
P
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