Hobbyking Collaboration

HobbyKingThunderStruck Welcomes Hobbyking

I am excited to announce that Project ThunderStruck and Hobbyking are collaborating on testing many of Hobbyking’s systems and parts to the extreme. That includes incorporating many of them into the ThunderStruck X-2 vehicle for testing in September this year. Those units will experience close to zero atmosphere, temperatures approaching -60C, higher radiation (well a bit more than normal).Micro- gravity and Gee Forces of 2.5G maximum..

In case there is any confusion, this is not a sponsorship and no money is changing hands. They will be a major supporter of our project, but they are also receiving support and services from Project ThunderStruck, so this is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Jason will be testing all the First-person Point of View (FPV) using balloon flights and steerable parachutes. This will be amazing fun and we hope to bring you some real time video during the flight.

Stay tuned for some amazing fun and again, thanks to Hobbyking for all the support.

Meet the Project ThunderStruck Team

team_medium1The Project ThunderStruck Team

by Robert Brand

Over the next week I will introduce you to the entire team that makes up Project ThunderStruck. Remember that There are two parts to ThunderStruck the test phases and the total Spacecraft. Similarly, there are two types of people that we will introduce to you. Those that are helping with the test phases and those that are part of the core team, here for the “long haul” to build a spacecraft.

We are moving aggressively to ensure that we stay on our chosen time frame and we are also working for world coverage and support. I quite like the small image at top right as the team is lifting the direction from flat to “UP”- an obvious direction for a spacecraft.

The team is made up of people mainly from Australia, but we have invitations out to people from other countries that will be dedicated to making the project a global success.

Similarly we also have companies, universities and even government bodies supporting part or all of the project.

We will be letting you know the big picture, because it will be impossible to build this spacecraft without solid support from those that have the expertise in the relevant field. Similarly we may end up using old and outdated technology without the proper guidance and support.

Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)

For instance, today I spoke with the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF). Please note that before I go any further, there is no agreement or other offers associated with this first contact, but the contact is both important and mission critical in my opinion. The ANFF says on their website:


ANFF logoEstablished under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), ANFF provides researchers and industry with access to state-of-the-art fabrication capabilities through a network of 8 nodes including 21 institutions throughout Australia. The ANFF facility portfolio consists of over 500 instruments with projects valued at over $200m. ANFF nodes draw on existing infrastructure and expertise providing a critical mass of capabilities in their respective specialisations. Each node provides their facilities on an open access basis enabling researchers to engage in interdisciplinary research across the following fields:

  • Micro and Nano electronics
  • Microfluidics and MEMS
  • Bio-nano applications
  • Advanced materials
  • Sensors and medical devices
  • Photonics

ANFF provides services for both academic researchers and industry. Researchers are able to either gain direct access to facilities under expert guidance, contract for specialised products to be made or undertake contract research projects.

I believe that this group of laboratories, clean rooms, test centres, etc are an invaluable facility for the future of space. Under local staff guidance, it is even possible to be trained in the use of some specialised equipment and be able to use it with your own staff. Naturally there is a cost with this, but imagine if you needed to build, buy of create this yourself.

A later phone call to the University of NSW Aerospace Dept was also greeted with a strong welcome. There was a lot discussed and I have been invited to speak at an upcoming event on April 1st that is all about CubesSats. I mentioned John Moody in a recent post. He is building an Australian Spaceport. I understand that he is also speaking on the day.

As momentum builds so do the spin-offs. other groups are finding the project reigniting their stalled projects. Project ThunderStruck has become a catalyst in the space sector. Universities are looking for places for their students as interns. It is a rare thing to find intern work in the space sector here in Australia. Possible Joint Ventures are already on the table and we are considering our next steps.

ThunderStruck is about to become again embedded in the Australian mindset. First as a hit for ACDC and now as an Australian Spacecraft. Fly me to the moon maybe another song that we try out once we build the commercial version of the craft. Not to land, but to swing around the moon and on to Mars. Now that would be a nice shakedown cruise to check out the craft!

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.

ThunderStruck Momentum Builds

ThunderStruck support from MASNSWThunderStruck Gets Backing

We were supposed to be flying a High Altitude Balloon Payload to 33.3Km this weekend, but that quickly changed when we saw the Griffith area forecast. Rain, top temperature of 22C and probably winds. So we are staying home and postpone the trip a week or two, depending on the weather.

None the less that disappointment hardly tarnishes what has been a great week with progress each day. The big announcement is that we have now received backing from the Minature Aero Sports NSW. The type of support is being negotiated, but they support the innovation and Jason’s attempt on the sound barrier. The piece below is from their website:



Miniature Aero Sports New South Wales Inc. is a State Association of Model Aviation Clubs that actively promotes the sport of Radio Controlled Model Aviation within New South Wales, Australia. It also represents the interests of its many club members on a National level through its affiliation with the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia Inc MAAA . Over 95 Model Aviation Clubs are currently registered with MASNSW. These 95 plus Clubs contain comprise in excess of 2300 members, making MASNSW one of the largest of the Australian State Associations.

On Thursday night, Bob Carpenter, his wife and Tim Nolan met with Jason and I and we went over the project, the expectations and the realities. Bob and Tim were supportive and took the project to the committee and they have had a positive response to out request for support. I look forward to telling you the outcome in the next month – the fine details of the support.

logoThe Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering

The information below is from their website:


Throughout the past three decades of operating, The Warren Centre has delivered many innovative projects through industry collaboration and support, which have advanced the discipline of engineering and related fields. These initiatives have led to new approaches in Australian infrastructure, technology and engineering, providing greater links between government and industry with viable opportunities for wealth creation. The Warren Centre continues to deliver projects that drive innovation for industry. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our current projects, other Warren Centre initiatives or to become part of the Warren Centre network.

The Warren Centre is located in Sydney university, close to the Aerospace Department, where I give the odd guest lecture. This week they asked whether Jason and I would be guests at their dinner in early February. Given the guest lecturer, we would be stupid to say no!


I suspect that Jason will get a real kick out of meeting with Professor Brian Schmidt. Dare I say that it will “expand” his views of the universe. Go look up what Brian contributed to the world of science if you missed the reference.

We are so looking forward to being guests of the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering!


YAA_LOGOYoung Achiever Awards

Jason has been nominated for the NSW Young Achiever Awards – Science Leadership.  March 21st will be the big dinner and if he does well, then may be he will be in the final selection.

There are a few other nominations in the offering, but credibility is key to our success and I see these nominations as a way to have others vet this project and tell the world that it is for real. Telling the world that a 12 year old will break the sound barrier do seem a little “out there”. but my close friends know that we live on the edge of what is possible. Jason and I have the same drive and the same adventurous spirit.



There is way more happening, but I can only tell you what we are allowed to make public at this stage. I look forward to our next update.

ThunderStruck Mission Logo

Project Thunderstruck Draft A 7OCT2014Project ThunderStruck has a Logo

Story by Robert Brand

Our Logo has been designed by Tim Gagnon and Dr Jorge Cartes

Tim Gagnon is a fine graphic artist from Florida and he has pledged support for Project ThunderStruck by designing the mission patch. If you have any thoughts about his skills, have a look at our mission patch design and his website. I believe that he has done one or two before!

Jason and I absolutely love this design and it incorporates everything that we asked for and more. If you can use Tim to design art for your project, please contract him. You will not be sorry. It is a wise investment!

This is from his website:

Tim Gagnon

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

 Ever since reading about the design of the Skylab 1 patch in an article written by the artist Frank Kelly Freas in 1973, Tim dreamed about creating a patch for a flight crew, to actually use his artistic talent to contribute to the space program.  He came close in 1985 when Bob Crippen invited him to submit designs for the first shuttle mission scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, STS-62A.  That mission was canceled after the Challenger accident.

In 2004 his dream finally came true when astronaut John Phillips selected Tim to design the emblem for the Expedition 11  mission to the International Space Station.  In 2006 he was invited by mission Commander Pam Melroy to submit draft designs for the STS-120 patch. The competition was strong and Tim placed second.  In 2007 Tim was selected by astronaut Eric Boe to design the STS-126  mission emblem. Knowing how much it meant to participate, Tim invited his pen pal Dr. Jorge Cartes of Madrid Spain to join him on this project.  The STS-126 crew was so happy with the result that they recommended Tim and Jorge to the STS-127 crew. In 2008 together with astronaut Tom Marshburn they designed the crew emblem for STS-127. Then later that year Tim and Jorge were asked by astronaut TJ Creamer to design the Expedition 22 and 23 increment mission emblems. 

 In 2007 to raise funds for the Apollo Program Monument the Space Walk of Fame Foundation conducted an online auction. To support this effort Tim donated the creation of an 18” x 24” painting. The winning bidder challenged Tim to create a piece that would illustrate the entire 50 year history of space exploration. They soon realized that the scope of the painting required a larger canvas. After researching the idea it was decided that it could be done on a 48” x 24” canvas. The painting became Past Is Prologue” – Celebrating 50 Years of America in Space.  It was unveiled on Space Day, May 2, 2008 in front of the Apollo Monument in downtown Titusville, FL. The painting will remain on display at the Space Walk of Fame Museum for one year and then be returned to its owner.

 In 2008 keeping with his dedication to support activities that can promote space science education for children, Tim designed a souvenir “mission patch” for the team launching Steve Eves 1:10 scale model of an Apollo/ Saturn V rocket to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11. The patches will be launched aboard this incredible working scale model. The launch date is set for April 25, 2009.

 Tim has also designed a ten-part series of patches to “Celebrate 50 years of America in Space.” The first patch which is the 50th anniversary patch has been shown on the NBC Television Series: “Law & Order SVU” and has also flown in space. The designs which range in size from 4″ to 12″ cover the range of human exploration from Project Mercury to the International Space Station. While not widely distributed they have been well received by all who have seen them.

Tim is currently working with other flight crews and NASA officials on new mission and project emblems


KSCartist.com Fine Art & Graphic Design from America’s Space Coast. For those that are not from Florida or have not seen a video from a launch across the water to NASA’s facilities – a night launch and the assembly building.

Dr Jorge Cartes

This is his bio as provided by him:

I’m 60 years old. Always lived in Madrid, and I’m married to Olga, a Physician like me, and we have a daughter, Monica who is 24. I have only one brother (Ph. too), my father died in 1979 and my mother in 2004.

I finished my medical studies in 1979 and since then I worked always in Primary Care (Family Practice) and Emergencies (our # 112 is your # 911, I believe). At this time I’m working in a big food and restaurant enterprise which includes your Starbucks Company in Spain.

Since the time of the Apollo 10 I was following all the space launches of NASA and collecting their patches.

Dr Jorge CartesMy wife and I like to travel, and we have been at last ten times in USA, traveling across your big country, and visited all Florida (from Key West to Tallahassee and from KSC to Emerald Coast, and travelling across AL, MS, LA (New Orleans for many days), Baton Rouge, TX (Houston and JSC, of course), AZ (Hoover Dam), NV (Las Vegas), CA (from San Diego to San Francisco and the Wine Valleys), WA (Seattle), AK (cruising from Vancouver to Anchorage -Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Yukon…), IL (Chicago), NJ, NY (I love New York and I had the luck of knowing the WTC just 6 month before the crime), DE, MD, Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

We also have been in Haiti, Dominican Rep., Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Guatemala, Venezuela (my wife was born there), Brazil, Argentina, and in this side, many other countries, (all Europe, some African countries and Turkey) We think that traveling is the best way to understand our world and keep us more and more great and rich in experiences… so I would like to be an astronaut: they can travel where I never would be.

Finally I get a good friend who helped me to get one of my dreams: made a space patch!

Tim and Jorge, again, MANY, MANY thanks for your support and great artwork. This logo will be available from our shop soon and on a number of items such as caps, cups and shirts. We will fly some on ThunderStruck.