Translator:Henyee TranslationsEditor:Henyee Translations
Time quickly flew by.
As the end of the year was getting closer, the aviators and engineers were like tightened clockwork gears as they put all of their efforts into their jobs.
As for Lu Zhou, since the project was getting closer and closer to an end, all of the work had already been arranged and delegated. He, as the leader of the project, had actually had less work to do.
Hou Guang had previously participated in the 863 Program, and he was responsible for the design of the space shuttle. Xiao Ai, on the other hand, could precisely use the five-axis CNC machine tool to process the required parts and use various automated machines such as logistics vehicles and robot arms for assembly. The Skyglow space shuttle was moving from blueprint to reality.
As long as Lu Zhou could ensure the funding was coming in, this aircraft would be a done deal.
Of course, this was no easy feat.
Even though Xiao Ais industrial performance with a full set of processing equipment was sufficient, there were still many things that Lu Zhou couldnt manufacture. For example, the flight control system was purchased from China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation. Also, while the surface coating material was designed by the Institute of Computational Materials, the production was outsourced to a professional chemical materials company.
Then there were a series of cutting-edge materials such as high-temperature surface insulation tiles, reinforced CC composite materials, and even the special steel used in the main structure of the aircraft. These were all uncommon materials. They had to ensure that these materials stayed relatively light while maintaining tensile strength, fracture toughness, corrosion resistance, and high-temperature resistance.
Because of its excellent performance capabilities, it also had a complicated and cumbersome processing technology.
It was no exaggeration to say that the per square meter material cost was higher than Jin Ling Citys downtown per square meter housing cost.
1These materials werent produced by Star Sky Technology itself, but rather, they were produced by an upstream supplier in the industrial chain. A large part of the space shuttle cost came from this area, with orders in the tens and hundreds of millions of yuan range. The entire Skyglow space shuttle was built with cash.
It was no exaggeration at all to say that aerospace was a money-burning industry.
However, compared to the Americans, Lu Zhou was still quite comfortable.
Before the Columbia was retired, the United States government spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the space shuttle. Each launch cost was as high as US$500 million, and there were all kinds of problems.
On the other hand, Lu Zhou referenced and improved the design from the 863 Program, eliminating the need for large amounts of money that would have been thrown in research and development. The Hall-effect thruster design came from the scanner gun, so he reverse-engineered the technology without spending a dime.
Otherwise, he wouldnt have been able to build a space shuttle even if he invested and liquidated all of his assets.
Nie Yun was standing in the space shuttle assembly center. As he looked up at the ginormous space shuttle and its five sturdy ion thruster engines, he couldnt help but exclaim, Unbelievable.
Lu Zhou was standing next to him. He smiled and asked, Whats unbelievable?
Nie Yun: Its unbelievable that you built this thing in two months.
Nie Yan didnt say anything, but her expression was similar to her brothers.
Compared to Nie Yun, who flew fighter jets, she flew large military transport aircraft such as the Xian Y-20. Therefore, she was more excited at being able to fly in this gigantic spacecraft. She was disappointed at the beginning, but she was now looking forward to boarding the flight.
Lu Zhou could tell that the siblings were shocked. It is not just two months. The production preparation work started half a year ago. The energy supply components were prepared a year ago.
Nie Yun said, But I still think this is amazing
Yeah? Lu Zhou looked at the space shuttle and thought seriously for a moment. He then said, I think compared to the Yang-Mills equations, this is a lot simpler.
Lu Zhou was probably the only person on Earth that could make a comparison like this.
Actually, Lu Zhou wasnt bragging when he made this comparison; this was his true opinion.
After completing the Yang-Mills equations and establishing the electrostrong interaction theory, he easily calculated the theoretical model of the sound fusion machine. The Hall-effect thruster was obtained through the scanner gun, and the design and manufacture of the space shuttle were mostly done by other professionals. When he thought about it carefully, he didnt actually have to do that much work.
Chief Engineer Hou Guang was leading a number of technicians. They were conducting a comprehensive inspection of the various space shuttle components. In order to eliminate the chances of an accident, he divided the maintenance staff into two teams and began to inspect the space shuttle from two different starting positions. They were extra careful with this process.
Are you done with the inspection?
Technician: Yes, sir!
Hou Guang: What about the ionization chamber and working medium interface compartment? And the hydraulic pump and thermal cycle device, have those been checked?
The technician nodded and said, Theyve all been inspected! Everything is normal!
Hou Guang: Are you sure?
Hou Guang nodded and said, Then double-check it!
Even though repeated inspections was a torturous process, the technicians didnt complain about Hou Guangs orders.
The space shuttle was a large and sophisticated piece of equipment. They had to ensure that each of the 100,000 or so components were working properly. Only then, could the astronauts be safely sent and brought back from outer space.
Any tiny mistake, even if one screw wasnt tightened properly, could have serious consequences.
Therefore, just like Chinas great aerospace experts said, every successful launch was one small mistake away from failure, and every failed launch was one small correction from success.
The maintenance work lasted for three whole days.
Finally, on the day before New Years day, all of the inspections were completed. Hou Guang brought the maintenance report to Lu Zhou.
Lu Zhou glanced at the report and asked, Is everything ready?
Its ready! Hou Guang looked at Lu Zhou and said with excitement, Now we just need to find a way to transport it to the launch base, which is more than ten kilometers away, then do one more inspection. After that, we can schedule the launch!
Transporting this big guy for more than ten kilometers was no easy piece of cake.
Especially since they had to keep everything confidential.
However, even though this might be difficult for others, it wasnt difficult for Lu Zhou.
Lu Zhou said with a smile, No problem.
He took out his phone and walked to the side. He then dialed a familiar number.
Regiment Commander Dai, theres a favor I need from you.