Green Launch Project Updates

Green Launch and HARP “space” Gun Featured on Army.mil

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz.– From Jules Verne until the dawn of the rocket age, scientific thinkers and dreamers assumed that massive artillery fire was the logical means of accelerating payloads into the heavens.

Original article source credited to www.army.mil

Even in the 1960s, as NASA perfected the massive, multi-stage Saturn V rockets that propelled humanity to the moon–and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) tested the Mobility Test Article, precursor to the lunar rover–the Army was conducting the High Altitude Research Project (HARP), which intended to utilize artillery fire as a lower cost alternative to launching scientific payloads into Earth orbit. The world record for the highest altitude shot–which reached past the Karman Line into space– was set at the proving ground in 1966. It proved the concept of ballistic suborbital space access, but funding for the program was cancelled the following year.

The original HARP cannon and several smaller gun tubes associated with those long-ago tests remain at YPG and are still viable for firing with a relatively small amount of refurbishment. Currently, a private industry customer called Green Launch is at YPG conducting early of launching a space projectile with some of this equipment, combined with an innovative new technology.

Using a hydrogen and oxygen gas propellant, the company feels that as humanity expands its presence in the Solar System in the coming decades, impulse-launched deliveries of supplies and materials will be critically important, particularly given the vast sums of money required for humanity’s first forays to places like Mars.

“It takes a million pounds of fuel per person to get to Mars and back,” said Eric Robinson, strategic outreach manager. “Multiplied by $5,000 per pound, that’s $5 billion just for fuel. Our system would be more like $200 per pound. Hydrogen and oxygen are cheap.”

Another advantage of artillery-fired delivery of objects would be the speed and frequency of fire: they could ascend faster and be repeated with less work than multi-stage rockets.

“Your items could be in orbit in five minutes,” said Robinson. “We could be launching every 60 to 90 minutes. This will enable us to be the FedEx of space.”

It would also be significantly more environmentally-friendly than burning rocket fuel.

“At the very end of a shot, a little bit of a steam cloud comes out, because hydrogen and oxygen make water,” said Robinson. “The eventual design may use a solar-heated steam piston and hydrogen that is 95% recaptured after each launch.”

The early phase of testing in progress now consists of horizontally firing a high density plastic slug through a velocity trap into a specially-constructed catch box in front of a thick earthen berm.

“The set-up is very similar to that of many other firing tests, but this is truly a developmental test,” said Chris Tennant, test officer. “A lot of tests at YPG are lot acceptance or stockpile reliability tests, or engineering tests where most of the components are known and one portion of a system is being changed.”

To prepare a launch, the testers insert a burst diaphragm, followed by an o ring behind the plastic slug. Finally, an ignition assembly with squibs the testers have dubbed the ‘Christmas tree’ is loaded. The testers have added feed tubes that push hydrogen and oxygen gas into the gun. Once enough gas pressure is built up behind the diaphragm, the testers ignite it from a bombproof control room panel and the projectile fires.

“We really haven’t modified the gun significantly, except for the breach section,” said Dr. John Hunter, chief technical officer. “It’s made for a solid propellant, which is why the available breach volume is fairly small. We prefer a much bigger breach, so when we do the vertical shots we’ll probably end up pushing the projectile about a third of the way in the barrel and use a specialized release mechanism that gives about three times the volume.”

At this stage, testers are primarily interested in measuring projectile velocity and ensuring the burst diagram performs in a controlled manner. So far, with horizontal fires, the testers have already achieved velocities similar to that of the HARP vertical shot that set the world record in 1966. They want to achieve even faster velocities before converting to vertical test fires of their system.

“The trick is using a light gas like hydrogen, which has a very low molecular weight,” said Hunter. “You can get very high velocities that aren’t possible with powder. This exceptional propellant will allow us to revolutionize access to space and open the solar system to exploration and resources.”

“Hydrogen is super-fast, and the ignition and energy from making water is a very energetic exothermic reaction,” added Robinson.

Green Launch is a start-up company that seeks rigorous cost control to ensure the long-term perpetuation of their ambitious program. Hunter, highly regarded in the projectile research community for many decades, was only marginally aware of YPG and its capabilities until a chance meeting with proving ground personnel.

“I went to a conference in New Mexico five or 10 years ago and ran into some high speed photographers who told me the best test range is YPG,” said Hunter.

“YPG is very helpful at keeping our costs under control so we can continue our testing,” added Robinson. “If we went somewhere else, we could never finish the sequence and the world would be denied this very promising technology.”

For their part, YPG personnel are excited about their role in supporting what could turn out to be a project of monumental importance.

“If they can get the muzzle velocity they want, they intend to eventually shoot vertically,” said Tennant. “I’m hoping we can make it happen here and break the world altitude record that was set at YPG back in 1966.”


 

May 2018

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Horizontal Test Firing at Yuma Proving Ground

The Green Launch team completed another series of four successful shots at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) during the week of April 23.  Two shots per day were achieved using YPG personnel and our team. Gas manifold and controls are working well. Shots 14, 15 and 16 in April saw speeds up to 2 km/s.  Next horizontal test series in June will assure performance of vertical test series to Karman Line. The photo shows the muzzle blast with hydrogen igniting. Plastic vehicle slug impacts the dirt berm.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Presentation at International Space Development Conference

Green Launch has been accepted to make a presentation at this annual event sponsored by the National Space Society.  This year it will be held on May 24 – 27 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Los Angeles. We hope to have a chance to meet you at the Conference.


 

March 2018

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Horizontal Test Firing at Yuma Proving Ground

Green Launch has been busy with a series of 12 successful shots which began in December and continued through the first part of March.  Each shot involved different parameters of gas charge pressures, release peak pressures, vehicle weight, and resulting velocities. This collection of data demonstrates the principal of light gas propulsion to achieve high velocities in the field.  We plan at least one more series of test shots in April. The following photos give an idea of the setup.

Green Launch Trademark Approved

The US Patent Office has finally approved our logo design and associated description of services to be offered by Green Launch.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Presentation at International Space Development Conference

Green Launch has been accepted to make a presentation at this annual event sponsored by the National Space Society.  This year it will be held on May 24 – 27 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Los Angeles. We hope to have a chance to meet you at the Conference.


 

September 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Presentation at Mars Society Annual Convention

The Green Launch (GL) core team (John Hunter, Eric Robinson, Rob Fryer, and Don Whitney all attended this held at University of California, Irvine on September    We presented the overview concept and received many questions from the interested group of space enthusiasts. The featured guest speaker at the convention was Anousa Ansaria who described her journey to becoming the first civilian to reach the International Space Station.

Preliminary Patent Applications Submitted

There are several aspects of the Green Launch system which we belief are novel and patentable.  Therefore, John Hunter has written these up and submitted them to the US Patent Office for approval.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Pneumatic Components Assembly

This work is under way in San Diego.  A convenient location has been confirmed for assembly and testing of the pneumatic manifolds to deliver the various gases to the launch tube.  Each manifold will consist of valves gauges and connects mounted on a panel to allow for easy transportability and assembly.


 

June 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Pneumatic Components Received
Phil Sluter of TriAxial Design and John Hunter refined and optimized the tubing and fittings to control the gas loading of the gun and safe firing. Firm order was placed on June 2 for the major components. Essentially all of the parts have now been received and assembly started on July 6. Photo shows Don Whitney, Ray Tinker, and John Hunter with one of the four main manifold panels.

Preliminary Patent Applications Submitted
There are several aspects of the Green Launch system which we belief are novel and patentable. Therefore, John Hunter has written these up and submitted them to the US Patent Office for approval.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Green Launch on TV
Due to studio logistical problems, John Hunter and Eric Robinson did not get to complete the taping session for a national television show. However, we hope to have another opportunity this coming Fall to appear on the show and thereby publicize Green Launch and increase awareness of our activities.

Pneumatic Components Assembly
This work is under way in San Diego. A convenient location has been confirmed for assembly and testing of the pneumatic manifolds to deliver the various gases to the launch tube. Each manifold will consist of valves gauges and connections mounted on a panel to allow for easy transportability and assembly. We also plan a subscale testing of the gun components.

 


May 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Yuma Test Preparations
John Hunter and Don Whitney made another 3-day trip to YPG starting May 1 to coordinate several aspects of preparation for a series of horizontal test shots this summer:
• Meeting with YPG staff to discuss our test plans and schedule
• Tour and measurements of EM Building for optimum location of gun, target area, gas cylinders, and connection to control bunker
• Review of draft SOP /checklists for gun operation
• Refinements of pneumatic components and fail-safe operations

Green Launch Logo and Sales Mark
We have submitted the online application to register the logo and stylized format of Green Launch with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Pneumatic Components Order Finalization
John Hunter has refined and optimized the tubing and fittings to control the gas loading of the gun and safe firing. Firm order was placed on June 2 for the major components.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Green Launch on TV
John Hunter and Eric Robinson have been tentatively invited to appear on a national television show. This will be a great opportunity to publicize Green Launch and increase awareness of our activities.

Preliminary Patent Application in Progress
There are several aspects of the Green Launch system which we belief are novel and patentable. Therefore, we are in the process of preparing an application.

 


April 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Kickstarter Campaign

We believe that the elements of the campaign materials and video make a good case for the Green Launch development and test plan. Unfortunately, it looks like the online pledges will fall short of the goal of $95,000. However, our horizontal test development will move forward with the money we have on hand (see below).

Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Test Contract

The U.S. Army has incorporated our Green Launch plan of test activities into a formal contract. Don Whitney signed the contract for Green Launch and the YPG Test Directorate has also signed. Now we can proceed with using YPG equipment and manpower as required.

Yuma Test Preparation

John Hunter made another trip to YPG starting April 17 to coordinate several preparation aspects:
• Gun tube (7” x 55’) has been moved from the “bone yard” to an inspection / work area
• Gun tube interior cleaned and visually inspected for imperfections (none found)
• Breech block separated and moved to San Diego for modifications for gas connections

Interest from Supporters and Investors

A testament to the potential of the Green Launch concept is continuing contacts and inquiries we receive through our website.
• Technical questions and suggestions about Green Launch
• Offers to invest in Green Launch (none accepted at this point)
• Inquiry from a major defense contract about horizontal research firing

Green Launch on The Space Show
John Hunter was interviewed by Dr. Livingston on the radio / online show and took questions from the public about Green Launch.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Horizontal Test Preparation
John Hunter is continuing to plan for a series of 15 test shots this summer at YPG
• Design of test plan with gradually increasing chamber pressures
• Sourcing light gas mixtures, storage tanking, and pricing from suppliers
• Sourcing gas piping, fittings, and controllers from suppliers
• Layout of test components and target area at the YPG range
• Test operating procedures and safety protocols

 


March 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Kickstarter Campaign

The elements of the campaign materials have been completed and been approved by the Kickstarter organization. These include a text description of Green Launch, a video, and rewards for different levels of contributions. The Green Launch team has commitments of $120,000 from team members, family, and friends towards Phase 1 of the program. We estimate that this is slightly more than half of the expense required to achieve the Phase 1 goal of a launch to the Karman Line of space. Therefore, we have set a Kickstarter campaign goal of $95,000. The campaign should start officially in mid-March. Please visit the website and make a contribution.

Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Testing Contract
The U.S. Army has incorporated our Green Launch plan of activities for testing into a formal contract. Don Whitney signed the contract for Green Launch and returned it to the YPG Test Directorate for their signature. Expect final signatures in April.

WORK IN PROGRESS

YPG Testing Contract
Green Launch delivered our plan of activities for testing to the YPG Test Directorate. The contract for YPG services and range use is now in review with government contract staff. Expect final signatures early 2017.

Green Launch at Mars Society
John Hunter has been invited to give a plenary talk at the Mars Society annual convention at UC Irvine CA, September 7-10, 2017. Schedule permitting, we will try to be there.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Horizontal Test Preparation
John Hunter and Phil Sluder made another trip to YPG on March 30. The purpose was to make further detailed measurements of the 175 mm tube so that detailed drawings can be made. They also met with YPG personnel to discuss horizontal test locations on the range and plans for NDT testing of the tube.

 


February 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Kickstarter Campaign
The elements of the campaign materials have been completed and been approved by the Kickstarter organization. These include a text description of Green Launch, a video, and rewards for different levels of contributions. The Green Launch team has commitments of $120,000 from team members, family, and friends towards Phase 1 of the program. We estimate that this is slightly more than half of the expense required to achieve the Phase 1 goal of a launch to the Karman Line of space. Therefore, we have set a Kickstarter campaign goal of $95,000. The campaign should start officially in mid-March. Please visit the website and make a contribution.

WORK IN PROGRESS

YPG Testing Contract
Green Launch delivered our plan of activities for testing to the YPG Test Directorate. The contract for YPG services and range use is now in review with government contract staff. Expect final signatures early 2017.

Green Launch at Mars Society
John Hunter has been invited to give a plenary talk at the Mars Society annual convention at UC Irvine CA, September 7-10, 2017. Schedule permitting, we will try to be there.

 


January 2017

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Small Payload Design Demonstration
John Hunter has been experimenting with small off-the-shelf commercial components which can be assembled into our expected early payload volume (white cylinders) approximately 1 ¼ inch diameter by 4 inches long. These components can be programmed from a laptop computer to perform various functions. The blue model is a notional design for the vehicle and the white sabot structure will enclose the vehicle and provide support within the walls of the launch tube. The yellow golf balls provide a visual demonstration that modern electronics can take 30,000 Gs with minor modifications.

Don Whitney at Lions Club of Downtown Oklahoma City
Don presented the Green Launch PowerPoint at the January 24 meeting of this illustrious 100 year-old club of the city. Enthusiastic club members and high school seniors asked many questions.

Eric Robinson collects Green Launch Supporters and Advisors
Eric is in the process of contacting recognized space experts to obtain their endorsements of the Green Launch concept of efficiently delivering small payloads to orbit. Names will be posted to the website as collected.

Green Launch, LLC
This business name has been registered in the state of Oklahoma. Accounts with this name have been created at a bank, PayPal, and a credit card company to pay expenses and to receive donations.

WORK IN PROGRESS

YPG Testing Contract
Green Launch delivered our plan of activities for testing to the YPG Test Directorate. The contract for YPG services and range use is now in review with government contract staff. Expect final signatures early 2017.

Kickstarter Campaign
Additional funding will be required beyond the amounts pledged by team members, family, and friends. We plan to use social media “crowd funding” to generate the rest. The campaign description, rewards, and other details are now in development. Expected start date early 2017.

Small Payload Design Demonstration
Rob Fryer and John Hunter have been experimenting with small off-the-shelf commercial components which can be assembled into our expected early payload volume of a cylinder approximately 1 ¼ inch diameter by 4 inches long. These components can be programed from a laptop computer to perform various functions.

 


December 2016

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Facility Photos
Green Launch Team visited YPG on October 18 through 20, 2016. We took many photos which have now been released by the Public Information Office. These facilities, equipment, and services will be invaluable for our series of test launches. Photos top to bottom:

Dr. John Hunter at San Diego State University (SDSU)
John did the Green Launch PowerPoint presentation at a December 7 meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student chapter.

Facebook Page
An early version is now on line. Please check it out periodically for updates and new material. Link:
https://www.facebook.com/ImpulseLaunch/

Website Page
ZenThree has developed a customized webpage for Green Launch. Please check it out periodically for updates and new material. Link: http://GreenLaunch.org

WORK IN PROGRESS

YPG Testing Contract
Green Launch delivered our plan of activities for testing to the YPG Test Directorate. The contract for YPG services and range use is now in review with government contract staff. Expect final signatures early 2017.

Kickstarter Campaign
Additional funding will be required beyond the amounts pledged by team members, family, and friends. We plan to use social media “crowd funding” to generate the rest. The campaign description, rewards, and other details are now in development. Expected start date early 2017.

Small Payload Design Demonstration
Rob Fryer and John Hunter have been experimenting with small off-the-shelf commercial components which can be assembled into our expected early payload volume of a cylinder approximately 1 ¼ inch diameter by 4 inches long. These components can be programed from a laptop computer to perform various functions.

 


November 2016

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

teamYuma Proving Ground (YPG) Site Visit
Four Green Launch team members (photo L-R: John Hunter, Don Whitney, Steve Kane, Rob Fryer) visited YPG on October 18 through 20, 2016. Major activities included discussions with YPG staff on support available, tour and selection of optimum range sites for horizontal and vertical firing, video inspection of tube interior (looks good!), and painting exterior of tube white.

Dr. John Hunter on the radio The Space Show
John gave a detailed overview of Green Launch plans to demonstrate the practical application of economical impulse launch to space. The format was a live interview with Dr. David Livingston and aired on October 9, 2016.

http://www.thespaceshow.com/show/09-oct-2016/broadcast-2791-dr.-john-hunter

Facebook Page
An early version is now on line. Please check it out periodically for updates and new material. Link:
https://www.facebook.com/ImpulseLaunch/

PowerPoint
A Power Point overview of the Green Launch vision has been developed to be posted on the webpage and other media. The 27-page briefing includes the heritage of similar programs, performance expectations, and the business case for impulse launch.

WORK IN PROGRESS

gl-2YPG Testing Contract
Green Launch prepared and delivered our plan of activities for testing to the YPG Test Directorate. The contract for YPG services and range use is now in review with government contract staff. Expect final signatures in December 2016.

Website
A contract has been signed with ZENTHREE to develop a website for Green Launch. Please check it out periodically for updates and new material. Expect activation by end of November or early December 2016. Link: http://GreenLaunch.org

Kickstarter Campaign
Additional funding will be required beyond the amounts pledged by team members, family and friends. We plan to use social media funding to generate the rest. The campaign description, rewards, and other details are now in development. Expect start date in January 2017.

Small Payload Design Demonstration
Rob Fryer has been experimenting with small off-the-shelf commercial components which can be assembled into our expected early payload volume of a cylinder approximately 1 ¼ inch diameter by 4 inches long. These components can be programed from a laptop computer to perform various functions.