Friday, May 07, 1999

Our apologies for not keeping you more up to date. Work on the project has continued at a steady pace and we had an exciting test flight this past Sunday. Updates include changes to the following…

1) Navigational systems – Problems with the formulas have hopefully been fixed. Basically the computer would recommend a speed to a given object and suddenly change its mind when it was past the time that we could safely decellerate. It also misled us as to the estimated time enroute (ETE) to various objects. The only thing that was found to work was the time until decelleration (TUD) which is what all the new formulas are now being keyed off of. The major obstacle is to accurately estimate a maximum attainable speed before decelleration is mandatory. There are farily simple formulas out there to determine this from rest (such as in Microsoft(tm) Space Simulator) but not dynamically when you are already on the move and with varied accelleration values. Once this has been proven to work accurately, we will focus attention on allowing lower consumption routes for long-haul flights (right now the fuel burn is 100% of the time; ie. we are always either accellerating or decellerating, never coasting).

2) Motion control – This system has been the most exciting addition to date. Several things have been tweaked. One big problem is that the running lights (strobes) seem to have enough discharge to reset the Motorola chip during flight which requires a restart, so those have been placarded as inoperative until a RF or magnetic shield can be installed. One big advance we made was explaining to the computer the amount tof time it takes the piston to travel from one end of the stroke to another. Before, especially during turbulance, the computer would attempt to make changes too suddenly and much faster than the inertia of the simulator could be changed. Now that it understands the times, it delays changes (a few hundredths of a second) which maximizes the motion effects.

3) Universe realism – Ian has been working the last several weeks on texture mapping the docking facilities and a few ships. To add an atmosphere of tension he added a floating man who died of unknown causes and is tumbling out there somewhere as we speak. We are not sure how to locate him but if we stumble across him it will be quite dramatic (or should I say traumatic).

4) Aerodynamics – A recent 4 month project that was just completed is taking the Audrey design and proving through simulated wind tunnel tests that the vessel, if constructed in its entirety, would actually be safe and stable for flight into and out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Some small modifications had to be made but otherwise the overall design is sound. The complete 17 page report will be made available in the Wind Tunnel section under Active Remote Access.

We hope to do the following for this site in the near future…

1) New pictures – The cockpit has really changed so much, most of the panels are backlit now and the flight controls have been completely replaced and reinstalled in a sidestick configuration (similar to the Airbus(tm) series of commercial airliners).

2) Construction zones – The few areas that have been under construction for quite some time will be added. Primarily, we want to make our training manuals and specifications available over the Internet and possibly offer flights (as passengers and eventually train for flight crew positions) to the public.

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