Chair Force Engineer

Monday, October 10, 2005

X-Prize Cup (Part 1/4)

The X-Prize Cup in Las Cruces, NM had this electric feeling in the air. Between the various exhibitors, it seemed like there was a boundless enthusiasm for man's future in space. The event was well-attended, and the people present represented a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo was one of the emcees (the novelty was lost on me, as I'm not a trekker.)

UP Aerospace seeks to make the inaugural launch from the New Mexico Spaceport in Upham during early 2006. Spaceloft, their sounding rocket, will take a 20-pound payload to 70 miles above the earth. The solid-fuel booster will be discarded after flight, but the payload section can be reflown.

Beyond-Earth also had a sounding rocket on display. The company wants to give people a chance to launch small items into space.

We caught an F-117 from Holloman making a few high-speed passes around 12:30. The picture is included because F-117's rock.

t/Space was present with a mockup of their Crew Transport Vehicle (CXV.) It's fairly spacious for a 4-man capsule, and will weigh in at 8,000 pounds.

The backside of the capsule is equipped with a hatch, docking collar, and two thrusters that will deorbit the capsule at the end of the mission.

t/Space's David Gump gave spectators "tours" of the capsule and answered our questions.

Two windows give the crew some visibility when docking with ISS. The inner walls consist of equipment storage racks.

Here's the notional control panel and "space shitter."

The seats are a simple cloth-on-frame affair. They swivel so that the astronauts are facing the capsule's nose during launch, while facing towards the hatch end during re-entry.

CXV's crew will wear the U-2 / SR-71 / Shuttle "Launch/Entry Suits" during, well, launch and entry.