West Midlands Branch Talks (17 November 2018)

Date: 17 November 2018

Start Time: 1.45 pm
End Time: 4.30 pm

Venue: The Gardeners Arms, Vines Lane, Droitwich, WR9 8LU. PLEASE NOTE THERE IS NO DISABLED ACCESS TO THE VENUE.

Talk 1: Starship Engineering – How to Design a Starship

To many, certainly outside the BIS, it may seem like science fiction that there are people today trying to work out how the human race might really travel to the stars. Worldwide there are professionals, part-timers, students and enthusiasts working toward this goal right now, dreaming big and holding a realistic expectation their goal will be achieved, if not by themselves personally, perhaps the next generations in the decades to come.

In this talk, Rob Swinney a retired RAF squadron leader engineering officer, will look at the background to designing Starships, illustrate the challenges involved through some seminal work of the past and bring things up to date with a look at the surge in spacecraft designs and designing in an effort to bring what was just imagination in to reality. 

Nuclear fusion is arguably one of the most plausible near-term solutions for deep space travel and he will highlight the work of the BIS, from the renowned fusion powered Project Daedalus concept in the 1970s to current activities, such as Project Icarus which now involve other organisations and collaborations. Project Icarus was launched in 2009 at the BIS HQ in London to revisit Daedalus and evolve an improved engineering design and move us closer to achieving interstellar exploration. Now a collaboration between members of Icarus interstellar, Inc, a US non-profit, and the BIS, the key was to produce a credible design and mission profile using near future technology along with other similar terms of reference to the Daedalus.

After years of struggle among members of the ‘interstellar community’, with little budget or investment (what ROI…?), a Russian billionaire philanthropist is planning to spend $100 million over 10 years in his Breakthrough Initiative Starshot programme which should show how to send a laser sail probe to the nearest target in the next 20 years. This may well see the start of a new space race; this time to the stars.

Speaker – Robert Swinney BSc MSc CEng MIET FBIS RAF (ret’d)

In the 1980s Rob Swinney completed his BSc in Astrophysics at the University of Newcastle and his MSc in Radio Astronomy at the University of Manchester. After several years teaching Craft, Design and Technology at Sherborne School for Boys he returned to his studies and graduated from Cranfield University with a further MSc in Avionics and then undertook a rewarding career in the RAF as an aerosystems engineering officer. He completed his commission in 2006 having attained the rank of squadron leader.

Rob is a Chartered Engineer, a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. His early research was published in Nature and The Astrophysical Journal and later work in the Journal of the BIS. He was one of the first to join the BIS design study for an interstellar probe, Project Icarus and he is the current Project Leader. He is a member of the non-profit organisation, Icarus Interstellar, and is co-founder and currently Director Academy of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies.

As a youngster Rob followed the Apollo adventure and the Grand Tours of the Voyager spacecraft. Today, he believes the ‘planets are aligning’ again, and organisations like the Initiative for Interstellar Studies, Breakthrough Initiatives and, of course, the British Interplanetary Society and the will prove that although extraordinarily difficult, real steps to interstellar travel are being taken.

Talk 2: CHEVALINE and the Twin Chamber Propulsion Unit

It is now over 20 years since the Chevaline submarine-based strategic missile system was withdrawn from front-line service with the Royal Navy.

This presentation will include a brief overview of the Royal Navy Polaris system and why the need for an improvement arose. Based on the original Polaris booster, this improvement created a much more flexible and effective deterrent to be maintained for many more years.

In discussing how this came about, the effective use of the payload potential within a threat comprising dispersed objects along the null-range vector is explained. In order to do this an on-board propulsion system that could either use solid propellant motors or a liquid propellant motor, the Twin Chamber Propulsion Unit (TCPU), was required. The choice between these propulsion systems is discussed along with the difficulty that ensued with the Royal Navy in convincing them to allow energetic liquids back on board submarines. Problems with the development of the original pressurization and control system are described and the fast-paced programme to replace it is explained. The subsequent development, testing and service history of the preferred option of the TCPU will be covered in some detail.

Speakers – John Harlow and Paul Jackman
John has had a very interesting career being fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time involved with the technical aspects of rocketry. Having cut his teeth on Polaris, John went on to work on both launchers and other re-entry systems. He has worked for and/or with the MoD, Foreign Office, United Nations to name but a few and this has taken him to most satellite Prime Contractors and launch facilities around the planet.

He is a Past President of the BIS, a member of the IAA History Committee and currently has a consultancy contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Paul graduated from Brunel University with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1967 and joined RPE Westcott to undertake empirical research into the mixing and combustion of hypergolic liquid bi-propellants. He went on to develop the injectors and thrust chambers for the successful packaged liquid test vehicle (PLTV) series of flight demonstrations. This led to the development of the engines for the Chevaline Twin Chamber Propulsion Unit (TCPU).

When the Chevaline programme cancelled the hot gas AOCS in favour of the American Hydrazine Actuation System (HAS) Paul became a member of the special HAS procurement team.

As the programme progressed Paul became Chevaline Motors Programme Manager overseeing the introduction into service of all the Westcott designed solid Chevaline motors as well as TCPU and HAS.

Paul then held various senior management position in the BAE Systems rocket motors facilities managing several major programmes including the development and sale to US satellite prime contractors of the Westcott liquid propellant Apogee and AOCS engines.

For many years Paul served on the I.Mech.E. Propulsion Technical Activities Committee and the AIAA Solid Rocket Technical Committee.

Paul retired as Chief Engineer BAE Systems, Royal Ordnance, Rocket Motors Division in 2002.

The event is free to attend!


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