Dec 8, 2012

Crowd Funding Campaign Successful

White Label Space's Japan office has successfully run a crowd funding campaign to support the team's rover development. The crowd funding campaign was run on the Japanese website campfire, which is broadly equivalent sites in other countries such as kickstarter.

The campaign raised a total of 2.4 million yen (US$30,000) and offered its supporters goodies such as
photo albums, stickers, T-shirts, a mini-rover kit, an invitation to a rover test-driving event or naming rights on the prototype.

The preparations took around 2 months, from the first planning meetings until the project was published on the campfire website. The video below (in Japanese) was specially produced to promote the campaign. In it, Takeshi Hakamada describes the team's GLXP effort and also points out the special significance of the competition's long-term vision to Japan.





The campaign was online for a total of 60 days and in that time accumulated financial contributions from 284 supporters. Most of the money raised will go to the construction costs for the new prototype rover model.

The team is considering running even bigger and more ambitious campaigns in the future but the team hopes that the success of this campaign will already lead to new potential sponsors.

***

Nov 22, 2012

Greatest Space Ads - Telstra Provides Rocket Fuel for Smartphones

Australian telecommunications company Telstra has chosen an agile little rocket vehicle (complete with hover capability) as a mascot for the roll-out of its 4G network.

Rocket fuel is a well-known symbol representing speed and power. The rocket vehicle showing the shape of the letters "4G" zips around the screen of a TV ad (we will try to find online link to the video) and can also be seen in the background of the magazine ad below.


***

Nov 7, 2012

Open Source Servo Driver for Rockets

Luke Weston from our partner Lunar Numbat has kicked off an interesting open source hardware project called OpenServoDrive. This is a high-power servo driver for a pair of DC brush motors and will be used in the throttling mechanism for the valves on our lunar lander's main engine.

 This open source hardware projects consists of just a single Printed Circuit Board (PCB) which is relatively compact, lightweight, inexpensive, and fully open source without any dependence on a closed commercial product. The PCB plugs directly into both DC motors, the 60V power supply, the two rotary encoders on the backs of the motors, the CAN, and a 12-24V power supply (supplied on the CAN loom) and provides the motor control. The new open hardware has equivalent functionality to the Rutex R2020 board when mated to a custom interface board previously designed and tested by Luke. The PCB layout is not finished yet but you can see the board's schematic in the project's github repository.

 The first use planned for the hardware is on the AUSROC2.5 sounding rocket, and it could also be used for any other applications where precise servo control of two large high power brushed motors is desirable, for example large CNC plotting, engraving etc. machines. Partnering with open source developers on projects such as this one is a key strategy of White Label Space to help reduce the costs of our GLXP mission, and to help make space more accessible for the everyday experimentalist and entrepreneur.
***

Oct 16, 2012

Video: Electrical System Test for Rocket Prototype

We managed to snap this is a brief video last week while doing some testing of the electronics for our bi-propellant liquid rocket motor prototype.
The electronics are now fully operational and from now our efforts will focus on final integration of the plumbing and the thrust measurement system.

Sep 28, 2012

Austrian Space Forum Visit

On Thursday 27th October 2011 the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) visited the White Label Space headquarters in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. This video shows an informal presentation by White Label Space Chairman, Andrew Barton. He provides some information about the location of the headquarters, as well as a general status report of the GLXP team and its plans for the coming period. The OeWF is a partner of White Label Space, and the two organizations cooperate for field tests.




Sep 27, 2012

Fly Me Too The Moon

This video was taken at the jazz event produced by White Label Space Japan, where musicians played space related standard jazz numbers and WLS-J talked about our GLXP project.

In this video, Fly me to the Moon was played since this song is the first played song on the moon.

Sep 25, 2012

Rover Challenge Shibuya

Yumi Inaba from White Label Space Japan office presents this short video on the Rover Challenge event recently held at Shibuya in Tokyo.

Sep 17, 2012

Shibuya Rover Challenge: Day 1 Report

Report by Yumi Inaba from White Label Space Japan;

On Sep 1st WLS visited the Hachirabo Science Center for Children and met ten eager and curious kids for Day 1 of the Rover Challenge - Shibuya. The children at this Rover Challenge event were a bit older than those at the previous event held in Sendai.

We all had a lot of fun and learned about some space science and engineering. All the kids got excited and curious about what the rover can do and which part of the moon the rover is going to land. As soon as they came into the classroom they immediately found the prototype rover and crowded around it.


At the beginning of class WLS members answered questions from the kids and explained the challenge of the GLXP. After learning the challenges in going to the moon, the kids get to build their own kit rover. Some parts were a bit difficult, especially the gearbox, but everyone finished building their own rover. Most of them did not require any help.


The kids really liked their kit and could not stop playing even when the class came to an end. We hope they enjoyed playing with it at home as they took it home and that they look forward to the following class on the 8th.


***

Sep 16, 2012

Testing of Propellant Flow Actuators

After some unavoidable delays things are back on track with the development of the bi-propellant rocket motor that will power the White Label Space GLXP moon lander. 
Here are some photos from last week's bench testing of the actuators that will be used to control the propellant flows during the static test.




***

Aug 31, 2012

Moon Rover Challenge Comes to Shibuya

The next White Label Space Rover Challenge will take place tomorrow and next Saturday in the vibrant and chic Shibuya district of Tokyo, and will be broadcast live on Ustream and Twitter.

The aim of the Rover Challenge event is to motivate and inspire the next generation of space explorers through hands-on science and engineering activities. The Rover Challenge includes exciting activities that demonstrate to the audience the challenges of driving the White Label Space rover over the Moon's rough surface.

Participating in the event will be local elementary school children from grades four to six.


This event is the next in the series that started with the previous Rover Challenge held in Sendai this August.


Dates
 Day1: Sep 1st, Sat 14:00-17:00 (Japan Local Time)
 Day2: Sep 8th, Sat 14:00-17:00 (Japan Local Time)

Venue: Hachirabo Children's Science Center, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Contents
 Day1: Building a kit rover
 Day2: Driving the White Label Space rover

Broadcasting
 Ustream: http://ustre.am/NVSb
 Twitter: @wlsjapan

***

Aug 30, 2012

Descent Trajectory Discussion

These photos are from the trajectory analysis presentation by Bart Hertog currently underway at the White Label Space HQ.



***

Aug 24, 2012

Tethered Flight Test 1

A short duration hovering test hop was conducted.

Objectives for the test were:

  1.  Test the ground, flight command and data logging systems. 
  2.  Demonstrate that the vehicle has sufficient thrust to actually liftoff. 
  3.  Record orientation data to see how the IMU coped with the flight

All objectives were successfully achieved.

The photo below shows the vehicle at the point of lift off. Video will be posted shortly.


***


Aug 13, 2012

Any Day Now

This photo shows the lander prototype suspended from its support frame. Just a few minor steps are needed before its first hovering test! 

***

Aug 11, 2012

Inspiring the Children of Sendai

Sendai and more broadly the Tohoku region of Japan, is recovering from the earthquake, and White Label Space wishes to present a positive vision of the future to the children growing up in that challenging environment. The rover development of White Label Space is being led by 
Kazuya Yoshida who has a deep relationship with the Sendai region of Japan through his position as professor of aerospace engineering at Tohoku University. 

Recently Sendai National College held an exciting education event for local school children with the assistance of White Label Space. The event called "Rover Challenge" aimed to teach some science and engineering through an interesting and exciting hands-on experience.

To begin the educational event, Mr. Hakamada, CEO of White Label Space Japan, described the exploration activities of White Label Space and in particular the lunar rover being developed in Japan. The children listened curiously, before they got the chance to drive the WLS rover in a simulated obstacle course on the Moon's surface. This was very popular amongst the school students. The supervisors whispered secretly to the WLS members that they also wanted to try the game later on.



After the game, each of the children got to make their own kit rover with a simplified design that still kept the main driving functions, deepening their understanding of the challenges of rover design. Supporting the children for the kit assembly were members of the local Robot Contest club that previously won the Tohoku district tournament and currently aims to win the national championship. During the assembly of the kit rovers, no conversation could be heard.





The WLS members were concerned that the kit construction would take too long but most of the children finished making their kits in time and started to play with it in their own ways.



Hopefully some of the children will go on to become space engineers in the future. Thanks very much to the college students and the teachers who helped us!

This event was covered by the largest local news paper, Kahoku Shimpo.

 If you are interested in the Rover Challenge, please contact White Label Space Japan.

***

Aug 8, 2012

First Hovering Test Soon

Our prototype hovering rocket vehicle is almost ready and the first tethered test could take place any day now.


Note that the vehicle doesn't have any legs yet since it will be fully suspended by tethers for the complete duration of the test.

This prototype vehicle uses pulse modulated monopropellant thrusters.

***
 


Aug 7, 2012

Wanted: Spacecraft AIT Engineers

Do you have 1 to 2 years experience working on real spacecraft hardware in a commercial/institutional (but non-academic) environment? 

We are currently looking for spacecraft AIT engineers to work in the Netherlands supporting structural, thermal and functional tests.

European nationality or work permission preferred. Relocation support available. 

Please send CV to: careers@whitelabelspace.com

***

Jul 14, 2012

Girls And Rocket

We had some special visitors recently during the integration of our rocket motor prototype.

Without any previous knowledge of the topic, the girl on the left proposed sending a flower to the moon, so we agreed to integrate that payload into our static test bench frame!


***

Jun 30, 2012

Jeroen van Straten

Jeroen is an electrical engineer with experience in designing and building electronics for rockets and test benches.

Jeroen graduated for his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering at Delft University of Technology this year. For the next few years, he will continue his education with a Master's degree in Embedded Systems.

Alongside his studies and White Label Space work, he is active within Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering, having worked on the electronics for the Dutch CanSat competition (see http://www.cansat.nl/) and Stratos rockets.


***

Jun 29, 2012

Flying Soon at a Rocket Range Near You

Our first hovering rocket vehicle is starting to take shape. This photo shows some of the pieces positioned as they will be on the finished product.
The propulsion system will use three pulse-modulated thrusters running on monopropellant hydrogen peroxide. The project will give the White Label Space team valuable experience in designing and operating rocket vehicles, thus accumulating know-how that will later be used to develop our moon lander.


***

Surveyor 1 Descent Simulation

Brush up on your GNC know-how and learn some interesting technical details about NASA's first spacecraft to soft land on the Moon!

This video presentation by White Label Space's GNC specialist, Bart Hertog, explains a simulation of the Surveyor 1 terminal descent based upon published NASA documents from the 1960s. Bart undertook this simulation as a validation exercise to prove that his method can give accurate results for the White Label Space lunar lander mission.

The results of the validation exercise were very good in terms of the propellant consumption and other important parameters of the landing stage. Some discrepancies were found for the braking motor but these can be traced to incomplete data sets, specifically the lack of an accurate thrust versus time curve for the main retro rocket motor.

Jun 28, 2012

WLS GLXP Team Summit Presentation May 2012

Andrew Barton and Takeshi Hakamada presented this update of White Label Space's progress at the GLXP team summit held in Washington, DC in May 2012.

Jun 12, 2012

Now Is The Time To Go Back To Space

Three space enthusiasts, inspired by the 50-year anniversary of John Glenn's orbit of the earth, launched a weather balloon with a looping video message to the entire world: "Now is the time for us to go back into space". Also check out their site for the behind scenes look at the production effort, which surprising seems to include the first (successful) marriage proposal filmed in near space and watched on the ground.

Jun 3, 2012

We Have Ignition!

The White Label Space team is a step closer to having the necessary propulsion system for its GLXP moon lander. This photo shows a successful test of the torch igniter conducted last week.


The next step is to integrate the torch igniter with the rest of the rocket motor and to initiate the first firing test of the complete liquid bi-propellant system.

***

May 25, 2012

LED Rover Dance

Previously we released a video of our rover showing off its dance moves for the Nagisa Music Festival, but we didn't have the time to set it to music. Since its so cute, we just had to let it dance a little more, this time to a musical accompaniment.

 

May 17, 2012

Mixing Music and Space

Who said engineering is not sexy? In this great video our Japanese moon rover is showing off some of its dance moves for the Nagisa Music Festival in Tokyo this coming weekend, coinciding with the solar eclipse.

Neat electric blue lights and precision point turning.. just what you need for a solar eclipse party!

 

And that's not the only outreach that our little rover is making into the music world...

Japanese members of the White Label Space team are also collaborating with jazz musicians. At Roppongi's softwind, space technology and jazz music jammed together as jazz musicians played famous pieces like "fly me to the moon" accompanied by a presentation of the White Label Space GLXP project.

It seems space technology is not just for geeks anymore!

May 14, 2012

Torch Igniter Testing Update

WLS team members have undertaken the first tests of the torch igniter design that will eventually be used set alight the throttleable motor on our lunar lander as it descends to the moon. The first tests were inconclusive and indicate the some tuning is needed for the propellant supply system, however that is expected to be resolved in the next couple of weeks.

Below are photos of some components of the torch igniter and the custom test rig that was built to support the tests.




***

May 7, 2012

First Integration Steps for Rocket Motor Prototype

This video shows some of the preliminary integration activities for the throttleable rocket motor prototype currently being developed for the White Label Space lunar lander. It is a liquid bi-propellant motor using nitrous oxide and kerosene. It also features a spark ignition system.

The motor will be commercialized by the Dutch company EDL Hypersystems B.V..

Apr 24, 2012

WLS-J Introduces our GLXP Competitor Selenokhod

Continuing to introduce our Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors to the Japanese audience, Mr Atsushi Minegishi from our Japan office recorded this video (in Japanese) about the Selenokhod team.

Apr 13, 2012

Space Ventures Investors Partners with WLS

White Label Space is proud to announce its new partnership with Space Ventures Investors, an internationally focused venture addressing how private and institutional investors can invest in space. 

Through the partnership, White Label Space will have unique access to the Space Ventures Investors network and industry knowledge base whilst Space Ventures Investors will gain a window on the investment opportunities related to the Google Lunar X PRIZE and access to the technical expertise present in the team. 

Space Ventures Investors collects from individuals and organizations vital information about their investment appetite for the space sector and looks at how marketing can be used to change potential investors‘ views on investing in space. By monitoring selected space-related stocks it provides interested investors with space investment advice.

Space Ventures Investors is also researching how capital can be applied to the commercialization of space and identifying the key verticals that are accessible, offer value to the public, and modeled to meet return on investment criteria over a fixed period. Based on this know-how it is developing a range of space industry financial products to enable the private or institutional investor to actively invest in space.

 ***

Mar 27, 2012

Last Chance to Enter Lunar Rover Driving Competition

Simon O'Reilly reminds everyone that there are just a few days left to enter this competition and win a chance to remotely drive the White Label Space rover on the Moon. Visit our facebook page to enter.

Mar 23, 2012

ARCA Described by WLS Japan

Takuya Ohgi from White Label Space's Japan Office present this description of the ARCA team competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. (Video in Japanese)

(This video was approved for publishing by ARCA)

Mar 22, 2012

Andrew Barton Talks About Innovation and the GLXP

The Chairman of White Label Space, Dr Andrew Barton, talks in this video about his views on innovation and the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Topics covered include his definition of innovation, how the new space industry differs from the traditional one and the rise of China and India.

Mar 16, 2012

CAMbrain Support for Rover PM2 Manufacturing

White Label Space's Rover Prototype Model #2 (PM2) is under development in Tokyo, Japan. This video (in Japanese) shows WLS engineers visiting a partner factory, CAMbrain, which is responsible for manufacturing parts for the Rover's suspension and structure. CAMbrain possesses strong skills in metal processing.

Mar 1, 2012

Lunar Rover Competition


We've now launched our competition where the winner will get to take remote control of the White Label Space Lunar Rover and use it to explore the moon! To enter this competition check out our facebook page and be sure to "Like" us!

The prize of the competition is the chance to control the Lunar Rover but the length of time you get at the wheel is up to you! The competition is free to enter and you can win 5 minutes drive time for free.

5 minutes not enough??
.. you can also extend the time you can drive by making a small donation.

A donation of €10 means the winner will get 15 minutes of drive time and then every additional €5 donated will earn the winner one more minute exploring another world! Make your donations using this PayPal button.


Your donations will help fund our mission and make our dream of being the first non-government funded body to land a spacecraft on the moon a reality.

Donations must be made before 1 April, 2012, in order to count towards the Lunar Rover Competition.

***

Feb 26, 2012

Like to Drive on the Moon?

White Label Space GLXP team is giving you the chance to remotely drive a rover on the Moon!

Check out this video message from Simon O'Reilly for more details, and don't forget to Like us on facebook!

 

Feb 13, 2012

Testing of Panel Edge Insert Joint

A quick (and dirty) test was carried out by the White Label Space team to get a feeling for the strength of the insert joint located at the side of a piece of scrap CFRP sandwich panel. The insert survived the maximum applied static load of about 1.5kN. Without the appropriate test equipment to hand, the team decided to use an innovative 'dynamic' test technique to take the joint all the way up to its rupture load. This test proved that the low-cost technique used make this joint is suitable for the lunar lander Structural Model that the White Label Space GLXP team is currently developing.

Feb 8, 2012

Lander Drop Tests 2 and 3

Continuing to refine the procedures for drop tests, the White Label Space lander design team conducted these additional tests. The crush length results for these single axis drop tests are now quite repeatable and efforts are now focussed on optimizing the video recording parameters to get maximum temporal resolution and image quality during the drop.

Tokyo Press Conference - Behind the Scenes

This video takes a look behind the scenes at the White Label Space Japan team's preparations for the high profile Rover Prototype Press Conference held in August 2011. The video (mostly in Japanese but with some English) includes interviews with the key team members responsible for the event and shows how they each contributed to making it a success.

Feb 7, 2012

Rover Experiments on Izu Oshima

This video shows rover field tests in Izu Oshima, a volcanic island about 100km south of Tokyo. The testing was carried out by White Label Space's Japan team in cooperation with Tohoku University Space Robotics Lab.

Feb 2, 2012

Cameras

It just wouldn't be as fun sending a spaceship to the moon if we couldn't have a look around with it once it's there. Also we wouldn't be able to meet the requirements of the GLXP either, so the Lander and Rover will both be equipped with cameras. The Lander's camera can operate both in still image mode and in video mode at 10 to 15 frames per second. It is mounted on an arm extending from the side of the Lander between the two egress ramps. It will be used to film the descent of the spacecraft to the moon as well as the Rover as it disembarks from the Lander and begins its lunar journey.
The Rover's camera can also capture still images as well as video footage. It will be used to film the journey across the moon and capture the high definition footage of the lunar surface which must be beamed back to Earth to complete the GLXP mission. White Label Space intends to use commercially available, rugged cameras which will be subjected to a full space-qualification program. The team is currently looking for industrial partners to provide the cameras used on the mission. This would be yet another one-of-a-kind marketing opportunity for any interested companies as the cameras used to capture the first images from the moon's surface for over 40 years will surely gain world-wide exposure. No pun intended!

Jan 23, 2012

Preparations on Leg Assembly and Panel Joints

This video shows some work on the carbon fibre leg assembly in preparation for Drop Test #2 and an experiment on a novel type of insert for joining together the carbon fibre honeycomb panels of the lander structural model. Looking for cheap, quick solutions that give almost similar performance to traditional methods, White Label Space GLXP team is continuing to seek low-cost techniques for the lander design.

Jan 15, 2012

White Label Space Teams up with EarthSpace!


White Label Space has finalised a new partnership with EarthSpace, a research and implementation organisation with interests in space exploration, satellite applications, climate change and sustainable energy. EarthSpace and White Label Space will coordinate efforts to promote the EarthSpace mission to inspire students to pursue scientific careers and to help them and the general public to recognize the relationship between scientific and non-scientific fields through an Earth and Space Exploration paradigm. White Label Space will cooperate with EarthSpace to facilitate participatory space exploration projects as part of EarthSpace programs, further raising awareness of the general public to current space exploration programs and competitions like the Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Jan 14, 2012

Free TV Udine Interviews Andrea Gini

This video (in Italian) is an interview of Andrea Gini by Free TV Udine. The interview covers Andrea's work on the touchscreen rover navigation software called Kaizen, which he developed with the Tohoku University's Space Robotics Lab. Andrea Gini is White Label Space's manager for the interface between the rover and lander.

Jan 12, 2012

The Lunar Lander


The Lander vehicle has been designed entirely by the White Label Space team. The main body of the Lander is shaped like a hexagon. On three of its six sides the landing legs will be attached and the remaining three sides will be unobstructed to permit accommodation of equipment and payload units that require external view factors. The landing legs provide excellent support points for on-board equipment which would otherwise apply high cantilever loads to the Lander’s sides during various mission stages.
It’s impossible to predict the exact landing site of the WLS spacecraft on the moon and there could be obstacles which could block the Rover’s path. For this reason the Lander has been designed with not one but two egress ramps which the Rover can use to reach the moon’s surface, if one is blocked then the Rover can use the other. The ramps are attached to two of the sides where landing legs are attached to make use of the support that they can provide. Attached to the third leg is the High Gain Antenna which is used to transmit data between the Lander and the team controlling it on earth. The Rover sits atop the Lander and is held in place by a Hold-Down and Release Mechanism (HDRM) based on a pyrotechnic bolt which will be detonated to release the Rover after landing.
As White Label Space's GLXP mission will be financed by advertisements the naming of the Lunar Rover is for sale. So any companies wishing to seize an opportunity to have their brand forever associated with mankind's return to the moon should contact the White Label Space team. Sponsoring the GLXP mission could lead to the headlines around the world telling of how the " Rover" was the first privately funded craft to explore the moon's surface; don't miss this chance to make marketing history!