Space: The ultimate in higher

Discussions on high/extreme altitude and mach busting rockets.

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Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby Andrew Burns » Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:28 pm

Well this forum is dedicated to further, higher and faster, what's higher than the legal definition of space 100km up!

Who here has ever thought of or simulated a rocket that could go over 100km up, I'm betting that most of you would say yes and I'd be among you. But have you ever stopped to think about what flying to 100km up would require?

Regulations

As an Australian citizen launching an object above 100km ASL (no matter where you launch, including international waters) you need to comply to the Space Act of 1998 (including amendments). Basically you need a 'Space license' for the vehicle you want to fly and the launch site you want to fly from and you need a 'launch permit' for every launch. I'm currently writing up a 'plain english' interpretation of this legislation and I can tell you it's a bit of work :shock:

Launch Site

You clearly need a launch site big enough, part of the legislation involving insurance calculates how many people you could potentially kill based on your vehicle and how many people are around, so remote is better. You also can't be near any flight paths for obvious reasons. Where you launch from is part of your space license application so it's important that it's good.

Time and Money

As part of the legislation you must be a corporation to get a space license, it's much cheaper if you're an educational, scientific or research institute (launch permit is only $400 then) but you still need to have 'viable finances' and a 'financial management system' which must be verified by independent people with relevant qualifications. Basically the system is designed for large companies with no allowances made for amateur groups (like there is in American FAA legislation).

Reading through the legislation I'm thinking that actually making and launching the rocket would be much easier than getting permission to do so, which is somewhat disheartening and although I can see the purpose of the legislation it's annoying (but not surprising) that nobody ever bothered to add in allowances for single-shot attempts by amateurs.

All that aside though it would certainly be quite a thing to see! So if you have any comments, 100km+ simulations you've done, dreams etc feel free to post them.

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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby Scoop1261 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:21 pm

I too have looked at the requirements regarded very high altitude launches, and can only concur with what Andrew has said: Building the rocket is by far and away the easiest part of such a proposal!

Merely finding a launch site that is remote enough from high altitude en-route paths is a challenge in itself, then there is the problem of getting suitable launch infrastructure to that remote location......I agree that time & money is something required in abundance before considering the launch of an amateur rocket to space.
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby drew » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:31 pm

Would it be possible to team or join ASRI to facilitate this? Their test range would probably be suitable. Granted we'd all have to travel to Woomera.
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby Andrew Burns » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:18 pm

Important to note that it's not really ASRI's test range, they've been given permission to use the Woomera range for certain operations but I don't believe they have or have ever held a space license.

I think that partnership with ASRI could certainly be an avenue worth perusing however I'm not sure how much credibility they have left these days as I don't believe they've really done anything in quite a while. They're still plodding along with Ausroc 2.5 but IMO that's a bit of a joke these days and even if they do ever launch it it's not going to serve its original purpose (as a quick stepping stone between Ausrocs 2 and 3). Certainly however I think that any amateur group looking to shoot for 100km would have to partner with somebody of higher gravity to help get through the regulatory process, your guess is as good as mine as to whom that would be though.

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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby october sky » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:38 pm

Andrew, no doubt at all that to many of us that would "the dream" to go for space launch ! 8)

That said, all the red tape is a big "downer" but maybe still possible.

From the look of things the plan would have to start from "back to front" that is to have the launch site and all permits first and then start on the launch vehicle. Morale of this being :You have built this beaut space reaching rocket and have propulsion ready to go......but no place to launch it nor permits..... :roll:
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby spacelaunch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:13 pm

october sky wrote:You have built this beaut space reaching rocket and have propulsion ready to go......but no place to launch it nor permits..... :roll:


The best way to get around this issue is to not launch in Australia or its related territories.

Why not look at New Zealand? - Rocketlab got a space launch permit from an island just off the mainland (Great Mercury Island I believe)?

Or

There is always Black Rock desert & the US FAA permit process, which is amiable to extreme experimental launches.

From the perspective of someone who has interfaced with the Australian government on space matters since the 90s, I can tell you there is no impetus here to make legislation for activities not viewed as national priority. If you wanted to blast a hole in the ground they would move mountains for you, but a blasting a hole in the sky – err sorry!
Space is only 100km straight up, see you there :)

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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby ROCKet STAR » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:39 pm

This is an interesting thread, I seem to have missed it until now. Andrew, you mention that this legislation extends to launches in international waters, but it seems curious that it seems to specifically apply to Australian Citizens. Does that imply that theoretically a non citizen could launch a space shot 12 nautical miles off the Australian coast without a without a licence, where as a citizen could not?
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby Andrew Burns » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:42 pm

I don't know the answer but my assumption would be yes BUT whomever was launching the rocket would most likely be bound by similar regulations regarding the activities of its citizens abroad (I know the USA has them) and there are probably international laws that would come into play (plus I'm sure the Australian military would be reaaaally interested in what you were doing).

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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby OverTheTop » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:45 pm

plus I'm sure the Australian military would be reaaaally interested in what you were doing


Probably really under-resourced and busy doing other things... You might even be able to sell them some as weapons!
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby spacelaunch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:15 pm

OverTheTop wrote:
plus I'm sure the Australian military would be reaaaally interested in what you were doing


Probably really under-resourced and busy doing other things... You might even be able to sell them some as weapons!


Unfortunatley not - we had our attempt to static fire a liquid fuel rocket stopped by DSTO in 2007.
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby ROCKet STAR » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:34 pm

spacelaunch wrote:
Unfortunatley not - we had our attempt to static fire a liquid fuel rocket stopped by DSTO in 2007.


Really? On what grounds?
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby spacelaunch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:59 pm

ROCKet STAR wrote:
spacelaunch wrote:
Unfortunatley not - we had our attempt to static fire a liquid fuel rocket stopped by DSTO in 2007.


Really? On what grounds?


Simply because the University was involved in such a project without their involvement.
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby ROCKet STAR » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:17 pm

That really is a shame if they are stifling the efforts of universities. Given the shortage of engineering graduates in Australia, you would have thought that the government should be encouraging the universities in any way they can.
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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby spacelaunch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:58 pm

ROCKet STAR wrote:That really is a shame if they are stifling the efforts of universities. Given the shortage of engineering graduates in Australia, you would have thought that the government should be encouraging the universities in any way they can.


The long & the short is there is politics to consider; the last thing that a Defense organisation wants is competition from universities for goverment funds.

The universities also dont want the percieved risk to students associated with experimenting in propulsion & rocket launching.

If you look at America or Europe they understand the value of creating space experienced engineering graduates; Australia wants more trades people to work the resources sector, as thats our national focus!
Space is only 100km straight up, see you there :)

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Re: Space: The ultimate in higher

Postby spacelaunch » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:15 pm

Andrew Burns wrote:Important to note that it's not really ASRI's test range, they've been given permission to use the Woomera range for certain operations but I don't believe they have or have ever held a space license.

I think that partnership with ASRI could certainly be an avenue worth perusing however I'm not sure how much credibility they have left these days as I don't believe they've really done anything in quite a while. They're still plodding along with Ausroc 2.5 but IMO that's a bit of a joke these days and even if they do ever launch it it's not going to serve its original purpose (as a quick stepping stone between Ausrocs 2 and 3). Certainly however I think that any amateur group looking to shoot for 100km would have to partner with somebody of higher gravity to help get through the regulatory process, your guess is as good as mine as to whom that would be though.


As I understand it ASRI does hold the only range user agreement direct with the Australian government outside of defence. They however need approval of any new rocket design by DSTO, before it can be launched. A process which I’m pretty sure takes years, but Croweater would be the most qualified to discuss this side of things.

It’s important to note that the Australia launch licence is unusual in that it requires the launch operator to complete any mishap investigation at their own cost, where as all other nations licensing bodies conduct these investigations (i.e the FAA in USA). This was a prohibitive overhead that concerned many commercial operators who where considering launches from Australia.

You would also need to consider the cost of liability insurance for any attempt of this magnitude; this would be extremely high if a range such as Woomera was to be considered.
Space is only 100km straight up, see you there :)


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