Goal: Build a small payload to fly on a suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV). Payload will be exposed to the space environment and must be able to withstand vacuum and ambient temperatures, etc. for the duration of the flight. Payload cannot rely on air cooling for temperature control of electronics, for example. If your payloads requires a pressurized environment, see Suborbital Payload for Citizen Science (Pressurized) instead.
Payloads may be of a scientific, engineering, or educational nature. The ideal payload will advance the goal of citizen-science: it will be a genuine experiment that adds to the database of human knowledge in a meaningful way, not merely a demonstration of established principles. Payloads that are designed to confirm the results of past experiments are acceptable, however.
Payloads must be replicable by other citizen scientists, working on typical citizen-science budgets with facilities that are typical of the "Maker" community. Fabrication should not require expensive or one-of-a-kind components. It should be build able in a well-equipped community or high-school machine shop, rather than a government research lab. Builders should provide sufficient documentation to allow other citizen scientists to replicate the payload.
The initial flight(s) for selected payloads will be provided by Citizens in Space, a Project of the United States Rocket Academy. Citizens in Space has acquired a contract for 10 flights on the Lynx, a suborbital vehicle now under development by XCOR Aerospace with initial test flights planned for late 2012. If the flight test program goes smoothly, Lynx should be ready to carry Citizens in Space payloads sometime in 2013. Citizens in Space plans to acquire additional flights on Lynx and other suborbital RLVs in the future.
For this challenge, the payload will be designed to fit one of two ports located in the Lynx aft cowling. Each cowling port can accommodate a payload up to 15 cm in diameter and 20 cm long, with a mass not to exceed 2 kg. This cylinder is slightly larger than double CubeSat dimensions (10 cm x 10 cm x 20 cm). We recommend that payloads be limited to the double CubeSat form factor, if at all possible. Doing so will help ensure compatibility with other suborbital vehicles in the future.
The cowling port has a hatch which can be opened at a predetermined point in flight to expose the payload to the upper atmosphere or space environment. Payloads can be optionally ejected using a spring mechanism that is provided by the Lynx. Ejected payloads must provide their now parachute or other recover mechanism. To determine points during flight when you might want to expose/eject a payload, consult the flight-profile charts in the Lynx Payload User's Guide.
Cowling ports are not airtight. Payloads will be exposed to ambient temperature and pressure throughout the flight and on the runway prior to takeoff. Flights are expected to take place at Mojave Air and Space Port, where ambient surface temperatures can range from 0-50 C (32-110 F).
Payloads can draw power from their own self-contained batteries or from a nominal 24/28 VDC power bus provided by the Lynx. The power bus has a 1 Amp circuit breaker. Payloads that draw from self-contained batteries will be easier to adapt to other suborbital vehicles which may not provide the same electrical interface. Payloads can receive an on/off command from the pilot or payload operator in flight. You can use this command to minimize draw on self-contained batteries.
Consult the Lynx Payload User's Guide for additional details.
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