Jul 24, 2010

Greatest (Inner) Space Ads - Rolex 50 Years of Underwater Heritage

Rolex released this video to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the deepest undersea voyage to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The 1960 deep sea mission by Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard included a specially designed Rolex watch called the "Deep Sea Special" strapped to the outside of the vessel. The depth reached during the mission was 10,915 meters (35,810 ft). At that depth the watch was subjected to over a thousand times atmospheric pressure.

But the dive was far from just a simple advertising stunt. Rolex engineers spent about ten years and suffered many setbacks to develop a watch design that could function at that extraordinary depth. The trials of the Deep Sea Special were also a central feature in Rolex's advertising campaigns for its Rolex Submariner product line (watches which incidentally have appeared in eleven James Bond movies!).

It's probably fair to say that that those efforts were a key building block of Rolex's elite brand image that has lasted till today... but what's next Rolex? Fancy taking a watch on a mission to the moon?

More details about the Deep Sea Special HERE.


Jul 22, 2010

New Partner Airborne Composites to Provide Advanced Composites for GLXP Mission


Airborne Composites to Partner with
White Label Space Team in $30 Million Google Lunar X PRIZE
Noordwijk – The Netherlands, 1 July 2010, today White Label Space announces its latest Partner, Airborne Composites B.V. 

Airborne is a developer of advanced composite products and technologies for space and other industries, and will provide lightweight high performance composite structures for White Label Space's no-name robotic mission to land on the moon.

White Label Space is one of twenty one teams around the world competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a competition for privately-funded teams to send a robotic mission to surface of the Moon and transmit a data package including photos and HD videos back to Earth.

With competences covering the full range of composite manufacturing techniques, as well as in-house engineering for product design and development, Airborne is an ideal partner for the White Label Space moon landing mission.

Image: Satellite CFEsat with 4 deployable panels built by Airborne, operational in orbit since March 2007

Minimizing the weight of space mission hardware is extremely important for mission success and this is especially true for Moon landing missions which require a very large change in velocity, or 'delta-V'. Advanced composite materials are an efficient and cost-effective way to make lightweight structures.

Sandor Woldendorp, Business Manager Space at Airborne, commented on the partnership: “Joining the White label Space team gives Airborne the opportunity to show our competences in design and build of composite structures for space applications. The Google Lunar X PRIZE offers a great challenge in terms of applying our space-proven composite technologies to fly on this moon exploration mission with White Label Space.”

Airborne is the ninth Partner to join the White Label Space team. The eight existing Partners include non-profit groups, private companies and universities. All the Partners bring unique and valuable capabilities to the White Label Space team.

About Airborne
Airborne Composites B.V. has business units in the Netherlands and Spain, where it develops and produces advanced composite products for a variety of markets including space, aeronautics, antennas, tubulars and machine components. Airborne operates state-of-the-art engineering and production facilities and has competences covering the full range of composites engineering development including technology research, product design, process engineering, qualification, maintenance and composite repair. The company turns innovative know-how into industrialized production, through integrated Design and Build programs and is dedicated to quality, customer satisfaction and cost-efficiency. In the rapidly evolving world of composites, Airborne is committed to developing new game-changing technologies, in materials, automated manufacturing processes and product design. [http://www.airborneinternational.com/]

About White Label Space
White Label Space joined the Google Lunar X PRIZE in May 2009 and is comprised of people from many nationalities, including England, Netherlands, Australia, United States, France, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Norway and Portugal. The team’s name originates from the concept of a “White Label” product which is a generic brand, developed by one company and then sold to another brand. White Label Space sees the Google Lunar X PRIZE as the beginning of the next wave of space exploration where the common person can become a contributor and not just a spectator. [www.whitelabelspace.com

About the Google Lunar X PRIZE
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is an international competition organized by the X PRIZE Foundation, which previously ran the Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital space vehicles. The Google Lunar X PRIZE calls for privately-funded teams to compete in successfully launching, landing, and then traveling across the surface of the moon while sending back to Earth specified photo and other data. The PRIZE will award US$20 million to the first team to land a robot on the moon that successfully travels more than 500 meters and transmits back high definition images and video. There is a $5 million second prize, as well as $5 million in bonus prizes for challenges such as traveling long distances, photographing man-made objects on the Moon, detecting water ice or surviving a lunar night. The $20 million first-place prize is available until December 31, 2013, and then it drops in value to $15 million until December 31, 2014. [www.googlelunarxprize.org]


Jul 17, 2010

Rover Thermal Analysis

Xavier Laurand, a Masters student at Cranfield University, is undertaking a Masters thesis project on the thermal design and analysis of the White Label Space moon rover under development for our mission in the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP).

One of the major challenges on the moon is to deal with the wide range of surface temperatures that results from its lack of an atmosphere and its slow rotational speed. The extremely high infrared flux from the moon can be attributed the moon's surface properties, namely the low albedo, high absorbtivity and emissivity. Consequently the lunar regolith absorbs most of the sun's energy and reaches very high temperatures during the day. At night it emits a lot and cannot maintain its temperature for a long time. During cold periods, sufficient electric power is needed to maintain the electronics at a temperature high enough to survive. During high temperature periods, the radiators on the rover must be capable of rejecting enough heat to keep all electronic equipment within its functional limits. Even if the baseline mission requires operation only during the lunar day, the temperature range is extreme.

Xavier is using thermal analysis software based on the lumped parameter method to analyse the performance of the rover under its expected operating conditions. The picture below shows some of Xavier's analysis results for a non-flat terrain with high surface temperatures. His thermal analyses take into account both radiative and conductive effects.

An important thermal challenge of lunar surface missions is dealing with dust from the lunar regolith. Dust deposits can occur on the surfaces of the rover due to the landing, the natural deposition, meteorite impacts and roving. Since the thermal control subsystem can be impacted by these dust deposits (particularly on the radiator surfaces), Xavier is analysing their impacts and investigating design mitigation techniques.

Xavier is undertaking the MSc course in Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University. His project is being conducted in partnership with Tohoku University Space Robotics Lab, the lead partner for the team’s rover development. The lead thermal designer in White Label Space core engineering team, Martin Lemmen, is providing additional technical guidance for Xavier’s project.

Jul 16, 2010

Greatest Space Ads - Chevrolet Builds a Rocket Like in the Apollo Era

Chevolet has released this simple but effective ad linking their new 2011 Chevrolet Corvette with the heyday of American rocket science around the Apollo program.

The ad's slogan, "It's nice to know that America still builds rockets" is a clear reference to the current political debate about NASA's role in building the next generation of rockets (the types of rocket that fly into space that is). Timed to coincide with the signing of NASA's Reauthorization Bill, this ad is almost certainly attempting to go viral by bootstrapping on the publicity associated with this important point in NASA's history.