Phaeton 4 project

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Phaeton 4 project

We promised yesterday to post some pictures on what we’re working on right now: a sub-space flight to the Stratosphere, with a fully autonomous drone.

Please say hello to #Bitnation Space Agency’s Phaeton 4.

It’s a delta-wing, with a wingspan of 2.2 meters, powered by 8 brushless motors as engines and two rocket-boosters. (Not in the pictures.)

It will use its propeller engines until it flies to an altitude of 18 000 meters. That’s roughly 7000 meters higher than commercial airliners cruising altitude.
It will then use its rocket-engines to fly all the way up to the Stratosphere, at an altitude of (calculated) 35-40 km.

It’s controlled by an A.I, and the flight-computer is a powerful Intel Atom based motherboard/CPU. (The black thing connected to the small keyboard – although it will be stripped off the LCD, and every part that’s not essential.)
The flight-computer controls the other components through USB, but there’s a more primitive emergency program in case of failure, in three different Arduino-boards that makes sure the drone returns safely back to Earth, if the flight-computer fails for some reason.
The GPS and the parachute are also not in the pictures – and also only one of the motor-controllers is shown.

The rocket-engines uses Propane gas, pure Ethanol and liquid Oxygen as propellant. (Fuel)
The electric motors uses 8 different batteries, with a total power of 300 000 mAh.
Two solar panels, the main with 10 W capacity and a secondary with 5 W, continuously charges the batteries during flight.

An Arkbird UHF unit, with a transmission range of 60 km at 433 MHz, and dual GSM 900 MHz will be used for telemetry, emergency manual flight-control (fallback-system) and will send data about all components, GPS-coordinates and sensor-data (the sensors, ranging from different temperature, barometer to special CCD-chips for detecting cosmic radiation are also not in the pictures.) to our HQ in Stockholm.

The big antenna in the pictures is however for 2 different video-links at 1.3 GHz, with a powerful RF-module of 6 W (Not in the pictures.) to ensure good picture quality from a very long distance.

The drone will take off from the eastern coast of Stockholm and will be over international waters, 25 km off the coast, when it reaches 18 km altitude, before firing its rocket-boosters for Stratospheric flight.
The same boosters will also make sure that the drone gets back to 18 km altitude, where the propellers will take over, for safe landing along the coast again.

The total flight-path is between 226 – 284 km, depending on maximum altitude.

Other data: the delta-wing is protected by 20 layers of aluminum, with hardened epoxy between. The average speed will be around 70-80 km/h when cruising and a maximum of 800 km/h in the Stratosphere.
On the way down, 4 retro-rockets with solid fuel, will slow down the drone and make sure it won’t fall into spin. Without those rockets, the drone would reach supersonic speeds and break into thousands of pieces upon impact with the denser air at 22 km altitude. This maneuver is also known as reentry. (For space vehicles)

The goal of this drone is to take off, and land horizontally, doing a flight to the edge of space, and will be used as a model for building a larger Phaeton-class vehicle in the future, with capability and capacity of reaching space, but taking-off and landing on the tarmac of an ordinary airport.

The original idea for this drone was developed at JPL/NASA, but the project was scrapped because of low political interest, no funding and technological limits at the time.
The joint Bitnation and SpaceChain project, Bitnation Space Agency will however build further on the idea to make space travel available to the public.
Imagine a London to New York trip less than 2 hrs, maybe even less than 90 minutes.

It’s maybe time quote the father of modern rocket-science, Dr. Robert H. Goddard – “The dream of yesterday, is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow.”

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