Unveiling Phase 1 ThunderStruck Design

ThunderStruck Design and 1-2 size measurementsTransonic Test Design

In the first phase testing of our ThunderStruck spacecraft, we want to go fast so that we can test some “drag” experiments. As such, the airframe proposed looks nothing like what our spacecraft design will probably resemble. After all we wish to slow down returning from space, not speed up.

Below are the design shapes and dimensions for a 1/2 size model of our flight aircraft. Why 1/2 scale? Simply, a full scale mockup would be too big to fit into my car!

After looking at the figures our modeller has recommended that we actually use a 1/3 size model as the 1/2 scale model is too big to fit his lathe! We will talk about the design in another post. I just wanted interested people to have a look at the craft ASAP.

The final craft may have a supersonic spike that will double as a VHF antenna, but it will not need a spike. The wheels will have brakes to stop them spinning during flight. There is a lot to do yet, but we are enjoying the challenges. Note that we may tweak the design further plus I have not included the canards for subsonic flight. They will deploy slowly as we slow the craft. They will not deploy until the craft is subsonic.

ThunderStruck Design and 1-2 size measurements

Above are the dimensions for a 1/2 size ThunderStruck airframe.


5 comments on “Unveiling Phase 1 ThunderStruck Design

  1. Good luck with Phase 1 Robert.
    Just a comment/observation from my side if I may. I am somewhat perplexed by your choice in vehicle configuration; particularly with the fact that it is winged and wheeled. Knowing that the amount of flight testing NASA had conducted in the late 60s to mid 70s with heavyweight lifting body designs I am surprised that you did not opt something similar. NASA had with the lifting-body designs studied and validated the concept of safety manoeuvring and landing low, lift-over-drag vehicles designed specifically for re-entry from space. Examples were the Northrop HL-10 and Martin Marrietta X-24A. In that sense the technology is already developed and readily available. Secondly, wheels and brakes are essentially only needed on the ground (or in your case, the brakes are used to keep the wheels from spinning during flight). Including these systems into the vehicle design increases complexity and adds a lot of unnecessary weight that has to be carried into space. (Same can be said about the wings – you’ll only need these for normal flight during re-entry prior to landing). You should be able to reduce your launch burden by rather opting for a lifting body design with maybe skids, or alternative means of recovery/landing.
    Robert, is there a way of contacting you where we could maybe share some ideas? I prefer not to do this in an open forum.

    • Okay, in all of the work I have published, I have tried to be clear that we are taking up some experiments and we need to fly fast. This design is not for a re-entry vehicle as that needs to fly differently. It is however to test a system that creates massive turbulence over the wings delaminating the air flow and causing massive drag. The reason is that we are looking for a system to incorporate into our second phase testing of a sounding rocket deployment. As for skids, we have a small aircraft and skids may be detrimental to the landing at high speed. We will test things before then and may simply use skids. I would prefer that as we are looking for total symmetry in the design. Note that we are not using lifting wings in the design. We will use symmetrical wings for speed, eliminating much of the crafts desire to pull out of a dive. This craft is built for speed, not flight, but it will fly. The canards that will be deployed at subsonic cruising will have lift. I hope this explains the reason for the flight and the reason for selecting the design that we have. You can connect with me on Skype at robert_brand_laptop and please pay attention to Sydney time if you are from another part of the world. We are building a team and welcome participation and will acknowledge all help. Remember that you can be involved at a financial level too. Note that we will make all information public from the first test and it will remain non-commmercial. The company however will use this public information to progress to the second stage.

    • A further comment: We do not have the money that NASA has, so our testing has to fit the criteria of what we could afford. NASA’s tests were not designed to look at the ultra small space vehicle, capable of returning a payload if necessary. Their designs and tests would be very different today. We are not a heavy lifting body, but something more akin to a large model aircraft in size. 3m to 5m would be my assessment of where we are headed – preferably 3m. I expect that for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) re-entry, the Dream Chaser design will be closer to what we are wanting to achieve – strong dihedral stability. With a small craft uneven drag will flip you as you return from LEO and especially so with a small craft. Yes, we will have thrusters to assist, but inherent stability in the design is key to success. I believe that we will learn what we need in both the flight tests and the tests that we will conduct with a small turbine powered radio controlled scale model of ThunderStruck phase 2. I look forward to speaking with you.

    • 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 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 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
      2/. A design for a spacecraft.

      Both are very different. The transonic test craft is designed to go fast and not slow down, 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.

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