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Welcome to Epsilon Vee, the next step in space transportation June 11, 2008

Posted by epsilonvee in N-Prize, Uncategorized.

Hello, and welcome to the Epsilon Vee blog site. Epsilon Vee is a small (current employees = 1) organization taking on the task of developing innovative ways to drastically reduce the costs of space access. This enterprise started with the appearance of the N-Prize, courtesy of Dr. Paul Dear of Cambridge, UK. In short, the N-Prize is a contest to launch a very tiny satellite into orbit on a bare minimum budget. Please visit their website, the link is on the sidebar.

Epsilon Vee is one of five teams (as of this date) working to achieve this goal. From my own perspective, the prize is a stimulus driving ingenuity in design and fabrication. How do we build launch vehicles that are effective and inexpensive, using current industrial grade (read, widely available and off the shelf) and re-purposed (read, how do I turn this cell phone camera into a satellite camera) equipment.

By extension, the ingenuity is driven in other areas, such as austere launch facilities (a trailer and a couple of storage tanks for propellants), as well as finances. Hey, no bucks, no Buck Rogers (we’re building cheap launchers, not free ones). Design work on our entry is off to a good start, and I’ll keep this site updated as often as possible on new developments.

Thanks to Dr. Dear for the opportunity, and special thanks to James Wagstaff at pictureandword.com for the logo and mission patch you see here.

Thanks guys

James C.



1. spstromberg - June 26, 2008

How will you be able to do this with out being sent to Guantanamo Bay? Is it legal to build a rocket of this size? Won’t your legal bills amount to more than the n-prize? Are you at all concerned about creating an international incident? Remember that episode of Diff’rent Strokes where Arnold and Sam launched a rocket and it landed at the Russian embassy? I will never forget it!

2. epsilonvee - June 26, 2008

Let me respond to each of these in turn.

This project is completely open and above board. I don’t know where you’re from, but the U.S. is not a police state, regardless of what some of my own fellow citizens care to say. If I did do something illegal with this, I’d go to court, and if convicted be sent to a prison here in the States. Whether you agree or disagree with gitmo, its not part of the U.S. civilian legal system.

Yes, such a vehicle is legal. Thats not to say I can just build one and launch it from my back yard. The current regulatory environment is a tough one, which I hope things like the N-prize can help evolve into something better. Licensing fees are liable to be quite high, yes. Plus launches will have to done from approved areas. Other than financing I see no problems with this at this point.

I don’t worry about an international incident. As long as the vehicle is properly designed and fabricated, as well as properly handled and launched, this won’t happen.

3. spstromberg - June 26, 2008

Thanks for your quick and thoughtful reply. I understand that you may not feel safe stating your opinions of homeland security regulations openly. That is understandable considering how model rocketry has been scrutinized by the department of homeland security.

I am curious about communications. How will you know if your satellite has orbited 9 times without a communications system, or alternately how will you communicate with a 20gram object. Doesn’t a cell phone weigh more than that?

4. Jacks - June 27, 2008

Epsilonvee, regarding the ‘police state’ issue you address:

Your citizenship status is irrelevant if you are designated an ‘enemy combatant.’ The government claims that once you are so designated, it can hold you indefinitely, without charging you and without you having access to the civilian legal system, whether you are a citizen or not. The protections you cite that are supposed to be available to people accused of a crime, such as being charged and informed of those charges, the right to a speedy trial by a jury, the right to counsel and to see the evidence against you, are all meaningless once you are designated as an enemy combatant. You can be held forever, tortured, and never heard from again, and there is no redress available.

I don’t see it as being out of the question that under our current unconstitutional legal framework, launching a device into orbit without the proper official clearances, or merely obtaining the rocket power to do so, could get you designated an enemy combatant or similar status. You should be careful

5. epsilonvee - June 27, 2008

To spstromberg and Jacks,

I understand what you are saying. I am a firm believer in our constitution and our freedoms. I take them very seriously. I have no concerns regarding homeland security. Launch regulation is an issue being discussed among the teams right now. The British Nebula team is investigating their national regulations now as well. The other U.S. teams are checking our FAA regulations. If I start engine testing in my back yard, I fully expect to get into trouble.

But I’m not that much of a fool (though my wife does think I’m nuts). The rules, though we hope to improve on them, will be followed, for the safety of all.

Now, regarding communications, spstromberg raises a good point. Frankly, at this point I can’t answer that. I’m still focused on getting the thing into orbit!

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