It happened just before Christmas, in a race with snowmageddon charging towards our small mountain town at the foothills of Sierra Nevada.
We had rented a lift and the tanks weighed less than 100 kg total. Still, raising the very first Eiger Stage One turned out not entirely straightforward.
Designed in paper-thin aluminum, the large rocket tanks took months to build in-house. The team got a bit tense when the oxidizer drum took a nosedive, and the large fuel tank went into a spin. The stand itself was taller than the building and the clouds rolled in.
But finally, there it was, towering towards the universe in all its glory, and a few lessons for remote spaceport assembly to boot.
Compared to the Franklin and Scott expeditions; Amundsen’s ships and teams were small, and his gear was tight. We’re translating this to space exploration and Amundsen would probably approve of the style: Start from scratch to build knowledge and keep control; focus on fast, cheap, and light.
It’s incredible to think only 11 months have passed since our first Asterex hot firing. A series of tests later we reached 10 MPa at 90% efficiency, after which we turned to Black Magic.
As a refresher, BM is the only propulsion system working throughout an entire space mission, not just the launch.
Between fundraisers and speaking events abroad, building and testing the Black Magic system took most of the summer, until in fall time came to work out how to manufacture the extremely lightweight propellant tanks we had in mind.
One of the solutions, a portable laser welder first made by NASA for repairs on the shuttle was fantastic - as long as we stuck to welding flat parts. Cylindrical shapes with tight corners were a different story that took months of modifications to solve.
Check out the pics for a quick roundup of 2021.
With all core parts of Eiger (the engines, propellant system, and structures) tested separately, it’s time to bring it all together.
Pythomspace main 350 sqm building is cleared for assembly and the CNC machines have moved to a 150 sqm separate shop across the street.
Ahead is an intense period of troubleshooting, modifications, and problem-solving. Constant curveballs will be thrown at us while we walk a slackline balancing pace and focus.
Amundsen and Von Braun both taught that the key to speed is fierce attention to detail. On the other hand, progress before perfection is the way of the Universe.
We’re excited to meet 2022: Pythom’s Year of Flight.
The Furfuryl and Nitric Acid tanks make up the largest part of Eiger. Stage two and a fairing will complete the rocket.
Rolling the first oxidizer tank, 4 m, in early fall. It took the remains of the year to get the welding technique watertight.