ThunderStruck Spacecraft Development Begins

BOR-4 breakdownWinged Spacecraft Takes Form

Our Australian ThunderStruck team has commenced design of the ThunderStruck Spacecraft. This graphic (right), courtesy of Project Thunderstruck team member David Galea, is just a doodle to break down the benefits of the USSR BOR-4 design. Yes, we started with a 50 year old design and have worked our way forward as the basic air frame is a solid design that has a good flight track record. We then looked at Dream Chaser which looks surprisingly similar, but with a modern interior. We too will have a similar design to both of these but with some big differences. Our starting length will be 3m (10 feet); our unfueled mass is expected to be 400Kg and optimum payload return will be 50Kg. It will have hypergolic fuel for the space flight – main thrust and hypergolic thrusters. If our air-frame can’t support the mass, then we will increase the lift or size. The fuels under consideration are not like the very dangerous Hydrazine used extensively for most NASA missions, but much safer fuels that are pretty safe for humans. They often don’t pack the punch of Hydrazine, but safety is our biggest goal so long as the thrust is powerful enough to do the job.

This from Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergolic_propellant

A hypergolic propellant combination used in a rocket engine is one whose components spontaneously ignite when they come into contact with each other.

The two propellant components usually consist of a fuel and an oxidizer. Although commonly used hypergolic propellants are difficult to handle because of their extreme toxicity and/or corrosiveness, they can be stored as liquids at room temperature and hypergolic engines are easy to ignite reliably and repeatedly.

We are now go for liftoff in eerrhhhh …in 6 years… But we have started. We are choosing a suitable fuel at this time – one that is relatively safe for humans and still able to provide the thrust needed to de-orbit and maneuver. There are new fuels – not as powerfully as many of the well known thruster fuels, but sacrificing power for safety could be a really good thing if the numbers stack up.

Our Invasion of Space has Begun.

Let’s rewind a bit. ThunderStruck is a Spacecraft under development. This story is about our spacecraft that we are building for actual flight many years from now. We also have a transonic test vehicle that has yet to fly, but we hope early next year we will get permission to fly the craft in northern Queensland (QLD) – probably a little North East of Longreach, QLD. There may be more test vehicles and even the design of our spacecraft may end up radically different from our

At this time, the Thunderstruck transonic test vehicle has been on hold, but it too will benefit from the spacecraft design kicking off since they may share common components. The Spacecraft will be slow to design and build compared to the transonic testing flier, but we have to start this if we are to finish it in a timely fashion. So back to our spacecraft design.

It is expected that we will partner with a university that will assist with the build. At this time we are closest to Sydney University and we know that they have similar goals of working with a winged re-entry flier.

It is clear that we are not relying on using the Russian BOR-4 as a blueprint, but it is a starting point. It is also clear that the BOR-4 and the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser share a lot of common air frame characteristics. So Dream Chaser was the next craft to go under the microscope.

Critical to the design and thus one of the first components to understand is the type of fuel that will be needed. This may determine that we need a bigger craft to carry the tanks or that the shape must be different to handle the large tanks.

Dream Chaser Graphic on top of a Rocket for LaunchDream Chaser (pictured right) is large and has a crew. Our craft does not have a crew and the ThunderStruck spacecraft is small in comparison.

Dream Chaser can launch on top of a rocket and we expect ThunderStruck to do the same. ThunderStruck is way smaller and potentially has folding wings and thus could sit inside a fairing making the ride more comfortable.

ThunderStruck will have a docking ring and the ability to swap old and new payload canisters. ie to provide a new empty canister to , say, an asteroid service craft and bring back a full set of samples.

ThunderStruck will evolve and its capabilities will change as we grow. Our aim is to make the smallest rocket launched spacecraft with wings for re-entry and an exchangeable payload.

 

3 comments on “ThunderStruck Spacecraft Development Begins

  1. Today I got a comment but it was on an old page. There was some confusion about our different craft. Here is my response:

    Let’s rewind a bit. ThunderStruck is a Spacecraft under development. We are building a spacecraft for actual flight probably 6 years from now. We also have test craft. One that looks very different is our transonic test vehicle that has yet to fly, but we hope early next year we will get permission to fly the craft in northern Queensland (QLD) – probably a little North East of Longreach, QLD. There may be more test vehicles and even the design of our spacecraft may end up radically different from our initial craft design

    At this time, the Thunderstruck transonic test vehicle has been on hold, but it too will benefit from the spacecraft design kicking off since they may share common components. The Spacecraft will be slow to design and build compared to the transonic testing flier, but we have to start this if we are to finish it in a timely fashion.

    So to be clear – 2 designs are currently being talked about on the website.

    1/. A design for a transonic test flight “X2” – under construction.
    2/. A design for a spacecraft. (yet to be disignated).

    Both are very different. The transonic test craft is designed to go fast and not slow down where the spacecraft has a blunt nose and is designed to slow for a landing. It will be heavy and will need lift to land at a reasonable speed. They are two separate beasts.I hope that clears up the confusion. I will try and add more clarity to the website. Thanks for your comment.

    • I saw on TV television show catalyst discussion about scramjet project it was worked on in the Queensland University it got to the point of being tested.
      is there any relevance to that information with what you’re doing?
      Does this mean there is an Australian space agency what government assistance you just out of curiosity not being too nosey
      Have you looked into computer systems 2 run the spacecraft as yet
      Have you considered looking into the other companies who have done something similar to benefit from a tour at the construction sites or factories.
      What regulations governmentally do we have to adhere to in Australia even from the point of view of the planet Earth
      If it’s not considered a security risk are there any details like location and specifications that are privy to some people

  2. We are not making SCRAM jets. We are building rockets and spacecraft. Yes there is serious testing going on in Queensland and flights utilising sites like Woomera in Australia. ThunderStruck has been fortunate to have had a private tour of the facilities as the Australian government through the Department of Defense organised a tour for us. It was a real buzz. Through the Defense Scientific and Technology Organisation, We spent half a day with the team at DSTO’s SCRAM jet labs. They have resources that they are offering to assist with our ThunderStruck transonic flight. In fact they are sponsors of our flight. I expect that they will have an interest in our work to create an Australian Spacecraft, but that is early days.

    There is no Australian Space Agency – this country is the last of the world’s developed countries to have an agency – What a crazy situation. There are incentives in this field and lots of partnering opportunities.with universities, etc.

    No computer systems yet, but we are dealing with off the shelf space flight computers that provide sensor information and the ability to operate actuators, thrusters, etc. We also are looking at a lot of space navigation hardware and more. The OS and structure of the network for redundancy is all a long way off yet. We must be happy with the air frame and the ability to fit it all inside first and whether it will fly.

    Companies doing similar work don’t like to give away too much to virtual competitors. Suppliers who are not bound to a company are fine, but we have access to most of what we need. Especially in Australia where the industry is rather compact.

    We have almost identical regulations to the US here but it will be hard to set up a major launch site. It is all possible, but the best area to launch from is northern Queensland to the east and that is pristine areas under a lot of conservation rules and a very isolated area with little infrastructure. If you go south there is the great barrier reef. Our rocket interests may have a bit of a problem to get traction in such an area. None the less we can cross that bridge when we get there. We have a good relationship with our Civil Aviation Safety Authority and I would like to keep it that way. so we will take care to do everything by the books.

    Anyone one have a spare island with lots of infrastructure on the east coast and no reef in the way?.

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