Introducing the Shepard Test Stand: Mach 30’s first Open Source Spaceflight Project

by Jeremy Wright, Innovations Technology Solutions, LLC

[Editors Note:  I’ve been asking you to be patient on the hardware front for years now, so believe me when I say words cannot capture how excited I am to introduce you to Jeremy Wright–a new Mach 30 volunteer and major contributor to our very first open source spaceflight hardware project.  Thank you Jeremy for taking us over the breach–and thank you, patient reader, for sticking with us through the “boring” parts.]

Shepard Test Stand Block Diagram

Mach 30’s Shepard Test Stand project has contributors spread over 4 U.S. states and 2 different time zones, so making sure that everyone gets a chance to leave their mark on the project can be a real challenge.  Add to that the fact that we’ll not only be exchanging ideas, but also things like drawings and source code, and the challenge gets even more interesting. This kind of collaboration is possible because of what Mach 30 is doing through the Open Design Engine.

On Shepard, we’ve started this collaborative process in the project’s forums and wiki by working on the why, who, and how questions that will guide us through the rest of the design process. These are seemingly simple questions like:

  • “Why are we building this?”
  • “Who’s going to use this?”
  • “What features does it need to have?”

However, without solid answers to these questions we run the risk, as contributors, of not all pulling in the same direction. As we head deeper into the project, these answers are being turned into a list of requirements that will keep us grounded and focused throughout the life of the project. That way we’re all on the same page, and when we get to the more exciting tasks of building and using the test stand, we’ll have our best shot at hitting the target. These requirements will start to pay off right away by informing the creation of the system block diagram, which is our next step.

If you haven’t yet, swing by opendesignengine.net and look over the Shepard Test Stand project. ODE will be moving into public beta soon, and we’d love to have the help of anyone who’s interested in moving humanity toward a space-faring future.

In short, “ad astra per civitatem” – to the stars through community

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