Support and Sponsorship.

dstoWe have DSTO a new Sponsor and also a University in Discussions.

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government is helping Jason with the Phase 1 flight of ThunderStruck. They have come on board through the Defence Scientific and Technology Organisation (DSTO). They have supported us from the start but are now officially sponsors for the flight. They have offered equipment, test facilities and advice as part of the package making the value of their assistance very impressive. They have been slotted in as a Silver Sponsor based on the total value to the Project.

A Local University

Early in the new year I will be able to tell you about arrangements with a Sydney based University that has a strong interest in the project. I expect that there will be some work for interns and other people as the project ramps up. Legal documents have to be finalised before any announcement is made. Stay tuned.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

So far I have had strong support from CASA in the area of demonstrating Safety. It unfortunately does not meet their rules for sponsorship, but there may be the possibility of information about ThunderStruck to be included in a number of their publications. Work is progressing. We are not ready to submit our request for an “Area Approval” for the flight, but this is imminent. I need to visit Longreach before we can proceed.

Longreach Mayor

Discussions with the Mayor of Longreach have been positive, but at this early stage, anything is possible. I will visit Longreach in January to check the area and see if it is suitable. More on that as we progress.

Model Aero Clubs

We are seeking support from them and it has been a requirement that it be seen that we are working with CASA before we will get support. They are being careful to protect themselves from claims that they are doing the wrong thing. Until we make the formal request from CASA, we will not get more than some basic help from these groups.

Platinum Sponsor

We have 2 contenders and both are major telecommunications providers. They both have proposals on the table from us that they are considering. One possibility is to have a mobile phone video the release from the balloon and relay it live to the ground via the local mobile phone network.

Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI)

We are hoping to get some discussions and support early in the new year. We have made contact and looking forward to how we can engage fully with ASRI.

How You Can Help

We need:

  • Technology – much off the shelf such as found in electronics stores
  • assistance with the airframe – Sydney Based is preferred
  • funding to buy what can’t be sponsored
  • vehicle usage / rental; accommodation; Petrol; 4 wheeled trailer with good suspension.
  • HAM Radio gear
  • Labour / help in general when things need to be moved and/or tested.
  • Anyone with graphics capabilities to create some pictures and animation

You can also link to our pages and tell everyone about the project.

Update – The Links in the ThunderStruck Chain

dstoUpdate – Things Happen in Order

Defence Science & Technology Organisation

I am pleased to say that we have finally gotten permission to announce that we have support from the Australian Department of Defence through the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. This is huge and we knew this would be pivotal to the direction that we took. It has taken time to finalise the arrangements and I am pleased to say they are on board as supporters and we hope that this will go one step further, but we will wait until next week for the final outcome. Even getting them as supporters is huge. We have already been their guests and invited to Brisbane to discuss hypersonics. As part of the arrangements, the hypersonics team will be providing mentoring to Jason, answering any questions to make ThunderStruck a success.

groundcover - Landscape around Longreach, Queensland.Longreach, Queensland

This now means that we can finalise a site for the launch and I can say that we are looking at Longreach in Queensland. It is flat and there is nothing much around to cause issues to the launch or landing. It seems ideal. I have spoken with the Mayor of Longreach and all is good from our first chat. Of course there is a lot more to consider. The concerns of the locals, the weather, the logistics and so much more, but so far so good

Longreach_map

So where is Longreach? Let’s say it is a large town in Central Queensland. It is large by Central Queensland standards, but not big by coast Australian town comparisons. Once you see the area, you will understand. Let’s just say it is flat – very flat. Let’s also say that dust will be our biggest problem if the wind gets up.

The list below tells a story – these are the nearest big towns that most Australians know! A trip to McDonalds will cost you about $200 and day out of your life!

It will be a three day trip from Sydney with a large trailer or truck and we had better not forget anything. It will be a tough ride back to Sydney to pick up that essential part. The wet season looks like it will be very dry and that may be a problem. I suggested to the Mayor that we could hose down the launch area to stop the dust. His comment was “Where will ou get the water?” The sooner I get to town, the better. We really need to know what we are up against if we are to fly from Longreach. On a more positive note, we seem to be in a reasonable spot from a Civil Aviation Perspective. We need to be away from trunk routes.

Longreach city

Where Longreach is,5k
1181km north west of Brisbane1767km south west of Cairns

1854km east of Alice Springs

687km west of Rockhampton

416km to the nearest McDonalds

Airline Sponsorship / Support

So the next link in the chain is to get some help from an airline and we have something. We will finalise this shortly and announce the level of support. I need to get to Longreach and meet the various groups that would have an interest in the project. I need to learn about the mobile phone coverage and which carriers have the best coverage. We will be reporting on the support from carriers in another Update.

Once we visit Longreach, we can approach CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority).

CASA-logo-stacked

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

CASA has said that we need to apply for Area Approval   to conduct the flight. This will require us to pay for the work that CASA needs to do to get the approval sorted out. This may be a “yes” or “no” and we may need to do more work to finally get a “yes”. We will need funding for the CASA work. it is not likely to be as much as $5K or more, but it is an unknown and may be as small as $1.5K. We have to prepare for the cost and the answer – positive or negative. It may be that they require us to move the launch site slightly to keep it clear of airline trunk routes. Our request must also answer safety questions and out mitigation or avoidance systems. It is up to us to demonstrate how we will make this flight safe for other aircraft sharing the sky.

Other Groups

Finally, there are many organisations that would like to support our activities, but are concerned that they may be supporting a group that is not following CASA’s rules and regulations. They need to see that we are doing the right thing or it could damage their relationship with CASA. The help that we need today may take months to secure – especially with the holidays season around the corner.

Luckily we are not launching until April! We look forward to the next Update.

Project ThunderStruck Update 1

More News on Project ThunderStruck

Thanks for the support in both contributions of dollars and more importantly at this stage, getting the word out and helping with services. Tim Gagnon is a fine graphic artist from Florida and he has pledge support by offering to design the mission patch. If you have any thoughts about his skills, have a look at his website. I believe that he has done one or two before!

KSCartist.comKSCartist.com Fine Art & Graphic Design from America’s Space Coast

Spending Your Contributions

Now a little detail on how we will spend your contributions. I did say it would cost $80,000 and that was no exaggeration. For a start there is about $10,000 worth of electronics to buy and test for the final flight and that is just the TV link, the telemetry, the control system for flight, cameras, video from the balloon to see the aircraft and the release, the tracking systems for the balloon and the tracking for the aircraft, the balloon flight termination system. The balloon for the final flight will cost over US$10,000 and the helium will cost $3,000. We will have to buy 2 radar transponders to warn aircraft of our position and they cost $2,000 to $5,000 each (and are heavy too).

Every two weeks we will do a weather balloon flight to test the latest systems for Project ThunderStruck and these will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars each and take up our whole weekend traveling and staying in hotels. Petrol alone costs us $300 for the trip and launching and recovering our systems. Below is a video of a launch we did in Croatia. You will see that it is very difficult and requires a lot of materials and you don’t always recover them. So far we have recovered 100% of our payloads, but one day….

phased circula polarised antenna - double mushroomThe GPS tracking system will be special as ordinary systems will not work at supersonic speeds. You need a special clearance to buy these and we need 2 and they cost $6,000 each.

The airframes will be expensive and we will need two. Jason has said that since most of our antennas are internal, the airframe cannot be made from carbon fibre alone or the signals will be severely attenuated. He will also need to have sections of the fuselage and possibly parts of the wing fabricated from a material such as Kevlar.

The picture, right, is an antenna that may be on the aircraft and shows why we must locate it inside of the airframe. It is a little fragile to leave out in a 1,800kph airstream!

 

CASA – Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Our Civil Aviation Safety Authority will also likely want us to travel to a remote part of the country for the big event. That will probably be one of our biggest costs – transporting all that gear and setting it up in the middle of nowhere and that is not a two person activity. We will need transport and accommodation for a huge crowd of people.

I look forward to telling you more about the technical parts of the mission in the next update for Project ThunderStruck.