Q: Can I order a rocket from Stanford Systems and fly it?
A: You can order a vehicle, you can own a vehicle, but under current FAA regulations you can’t fly it.
A: There is an absence of licensing for vehicles of this type. They are legal to own, but you can not operate one.
Q: So what is Stanford Systems trying to accomplish by marketing these vehicles?
A: Stanford System’s goal is to provide the FAA a vehicle with which to start the dialog that will lead to the regulation and licensing of this type of vehicle.
Its a vicious circle: the FAA can’t regulate a vehicle that doesn’t exist. However its difficult for the Private Aerospace industry to build a vehicle it can’t get licensed. Now there is a vehicle, a true rocket (not a space plane like Spaceship Two or the Lynx) that the government can now say “Hey, we can get these things flying now that they exist.”
It might take years, but in the end it will be legal to fly.
Q: So what is the point of owning one of these vehicles?
A: We anticipate in the short-term that collectors will desire to have the vehicle “dry” (ie. no propellant or other HAZMAT materials in them) and add them to their collection of various status symbols such as exotic cars, custom motor cycles and the like.
What you do with the vehicle after we “hand the keys over to you” is your concern.
Q: Is it legal to fly a stock D-Beta?
No, it is not legal to fly a D-Beta Atmospheric Rocket currently in either unmanned or manned modes.
For one they exceed the allowable diameter of AM/EX/HPR rockets that can be flown within the United States of America.
Most suborbital manned rockets on the market today are allowed by the FAA to fly because they are classified as experimental aircraft. This was a decision reached during the X Prize competition when the issue of how does a private business entity legally fly to space. The consensus at the time was the winner of the competition would have to use a aircraft to do it, not because of technical reasons but because of administrative concerns. Spaceship Two and XCOR’s Lynx being typical examples of spacecraft from this era.
Q: Are there other regulatory concerns that I should be aware of?
A: You have to obey inter-state commerce rules in the transportation of equipment and propellants (for example correct HAZMAT handling and licensing) especially when traveling across state lines.
It is also illegal to transport especially the rocket’s guidance hardware and software outside of the United States.
Q: But I can buy and own one?
A: Yes, our understanding is that you can own one legally, you just can’t currently operate it.
Q: Is it true that owning a rocket get’s you the “chicks”?
A: Yes, our marketing research indicates.
Q: Doesn’t flight certification through Stanford Systems license the vehicle for use?
A: No, being the manufacturer of the vehicle means we can certify you, as in train you to use a particular vehicle, and we can give you a flight certification certificate, however this is not a license.
It just means you know how to operate the vehicle. Until there is the rocket equivalent of a pilot’s license available, you cannot fly vehicles of this type in the USA.
Q: Your rocket uses solid propellant. Don’t most suborbital vehicles use liquid propellant?
A: Yes, we use solid propellant, the same formulation that is used in the Space Shuttle’s boosters.
There is a variety of different motor designs on the market today, liquid being one of them. Solid has an advantage of having no moving parts and you don’t have to use exotic, cryogenic fuels.
Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two uses a similar approach with a hybrid motor system where it keeps the fuel itself in solid form, and uses a liquid oxidizer, so our approach is consistent with industry norms.
Q: What exactly does my money buy?
A: In the case of the D-Beta it gets you:
the airframe (which includes parachute and recovery system),
the rocket motor, and
the guidance system.
These three components work together to allow you to ascend to the rocket’s target altitude and descend via parachute to a target location.
Q: Can you operate these vehicles in an unmanned mode?
A: Yes, suborbital flight is currently a risky proposition no matter what company you use so our development path allows for the rockets to be used in unmanned modes for things like high-altitude experiments, ground training, custom payloads and the like.
We use something called a “short-duration autopilot” system because its difficult for a human being to make the split-second decisions necessary to keep the craft roll-neutral and keep it along its parabolic trajectory so it lands where its suppose to.
Since its a flight computer that pilots the vehicle, it can be set to autonomous for unmanned flights.
Q: What if I want to buy a Daedalus PSC (Personal Spacecraft)?
A: We don’t have funding yet for such a vehicle, hence no advanced sales announcement on it. We are currently in the design phase of it though, complete with FEM modeling and a generalized guidance system methodology than can be seamlessly upgraded to this model.
The D-Beta rocket will provide an invaluable test-bed for this true suborbital rocket (62 mile altitude). We are anticipating using specially outfitted D-Betas with true action-reaction steering systems and pressurization studies to continue its development cycle.
Q: How do I get my hands on the quarterly newsletter?
A: Just email us and we’ll add you to the list.
The next one is going to be exciting in that it contains a lot of industry highlights mainly Copenhagen Suborbitals and Blue Origin stuff, and Ky Michaelson’s unmanned suborbital launch, in addition to the latest news on Stanford Systems technology. Also, presenting my idea for a small consortium of the more serious enthusiasts out there so we can draw off each other’s strengths and knowledge.
It’s free so you might as well request it. Comes via email in standard PDF format.
Q: Stanford Systems flight computer packages. What can you tell me about them?
A: I’m a software engineer with a lot of sensor/actuator experience so I’m heavy on the computer and electronics side of things. Rocketry guys tend to be more mechanically than electrically inclined as a group.
Our flight computer technology is split between two paradigms: modelling and guidance.
Modelling is what we use on the ground to design and simulate what will happen in the air. Our rocket designs are tested in a FEM-based environment with the final data being compressed and introduced as a data set to our guidance firmware, which is loaded into the flight computer hardware on-board the rocket.
Our flight computer technology is advanced.
For example our RS-485 network that we use internal to the D-Beta uses a proprietary token-ring approach with a dedicated PIC-based Active Monitor where we manually code the various nodes of relay units, sensor inputs and servo actuators so its reliable as all get out. Another proprietary variable-length-packet protocol transports the data without resend (as by the time it get’s resent the data is already “old”). If you need the current gyro state, you just ask for it again.
We can take just about any airframe and encode it into our current information system and provide a 3D-Printed-enclosed and hermetically -sealed flight computer to just about any suborbital or sounding rocket company out there. Its primarily for rockets but we are studying its application to space planes.
Its just a question of money to get active roll nullification and parabolic trajectory guidance into your latest project. We can easily handle your needs in-house. US sales for now.
Feel free to contact us, even if you are part of an amateur team or are and AM/EX/HPR guy. We would love to talk about your project is my point.