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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ace's Fireball power not just for Royal Enfields

Official NASA photo. Imagine how an Ace Fireball nozzle could improve this rocket motor.
BULLETIN: Ace Engineering created its powerful Ace Fireball 535 out of that plodding classic, the Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle. Sunday, Ace's Tom Lyons and Sumanth Janardhan will announce that they will help bring the same dramatic transformation to rockets designed to carry humans to Mars — and beyond.

NASA jumped the gun in a press release  Friday on its Space Launch Systems Program. The SLS is America's next heavy-lift launch vehicle. The press release suggests that Ace's involvement in the space program is all but certain.

"Mars exploration is a top priority for NASA," another NASA press release notes. Ace Engineering has the experience and the record of success the agency will need if it hopes to meet President Obama's challenge that it put humans on Mars in the mid 2030s.

Ace's connection to the space program resulted directly from Lyons' recent boast that "we can do other brands and vehicles as well."

"Just in case anyone is wondering about it, we are capable of doing performance head work on just about any kind of vehicle that you can name. While I specialize in Bullets, I am doing this work at Mondello's, which is one of the most famous race engine shops in the world. So, if you have something else that you'd like to get worked on, just let me know."

The Mondello heads used on Ace Fireball motors for the Bullet capture power lost in the standard Bullet motor by inefficient fuel flow. While the basic idea — fuel in, power out — seems simple, getting it perfect requires exact understanding of what is going on, plus precision engineering.

NASA's rockets work on the same simple principles, but not as efficiently as they could. As with many of the modifications Ace makes to the basic Bullet, small things do mean a lot.

There is no wind resistance in space. How fast you get going equals how fast you keep going. This means that a bit extra power at the start — something equivalent to the difference between a standard Royal Enfield Bullet and the Ace Fireball 535, for instance — could dramatically shorten the time it takes to get to Mars. With reduced travel time, associated savings in on-board life support requirements are obvious.

Can a young motorcycle shop help NASA get to Mars using only experience gained on vintage British motorcycle engines?

Absolutely.

After all. It's not rocket science.

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