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Old 07-17-2018, 01:14 AM
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ANS - The first dutch adventure in space

Hi. Storytime!

When in the early 1960s Europe too wanted to get a foothold in outer space, ELDO and ESRO were founded. A lot of European countries were involved, including the Netherlands. But although they financed the endeavour along with the rest, the Dutch were practically ignored when it came to active participation. The assignments for rockets and satellites always went to Germany, Italy and France.
The Dutch lacked experience, they said. Something they of course would never get when they couldn’t participate. So the Dutch delegation took a deep sigh and said to themselves: “Well, we’ll do it our bloody selves, then” (but of course they said it in Dutch, probably somewhere in the line of “Dan doen we het verdikke zelf wel!”).
They wanted their satellite to serve a scientific purpose, so it was decided it would be an astronomical satellite.

Skip forward a half a dozen years or so. With a big grant from the government the Dutch finally could start building in 1969. They named her ANS, which is an old-fashioned Dutch girl’s name but in fact stood for Astronomische Nederlandse Satelliet.
Two very special telescope systems would scan the Infrared and X-ray spectrum. The universities of Groningen and Utrecht would provide the telescopes and other astronomical instruments, the Philips company would create and build the brain and electronics, and Fokker would build it all together in a small frame, all under the supervision of the NLR, the Dutch Aeronautical institute.

NASA agreed to launch ANS for free if they could add their own little X-ray experiment in the satellite’s frame. Of course, the Dutch engineers already had left a space open for just that purpose. ANS weighted about 130 kilogram and was just over a meter in height. The satellite would be small enough to be launched on top of a Scout rocket. A modest choice.

The satellite, however small, wasn’t modest at all. In 1974, when ANS was launched, it was the first 100% digital spacecraft. NASA was deeply impressed by this little Dutch miracle. Everything on board was made especially for this purpose. No off-the-shelf components were used. Philips designed a truly unique feature with the solid-state on-board computer. It had a reprogrammable ferrite core memory of a whopping 28K. (we’re talking 1974 here!) This computer managed the whole spacecraft and could receive new assignments during the mission. Old ones could be erased. That was never been done before. NASA was also a bit worried because of the unproven system and also becasue of the amount of single-point failures in the satellite. There were no redundant or backup systems. None.

(There’s much more that was innovating and special about ANS, but I’ll keep it short. ish. (-; 

And so, ANS was launched, the 30th of August, 1974. Thanks to a faulty fourth stage of the Scout launcher, ANS came into an highly erroneous elliptical orbit which took it right through the Van Allen Belt. The on-board computer was given a new set of codes to operate on, so the instruments wouldn’t give faulty data as the satellite flew through the radioactive region. And despite the wrong orbit, ANS still worked like a charm. 
It started scanning the universe with an unprecedented precision. It helped to create a much more detailed image of the universe, because of the preciseness of the telescopes. ANS also discovered very interesting new things happening in pulsating X-ray stars and globular clusters.

As planned, ANS fell back into the atmosphere in 1977. 
After that, the Dutch never ever made another satellite on their own. 

Their next effort, called IRAS, was from the start intended to be a cooperation with the US and the UK. Nowadays, there are Dutch components in almost, if not, all ESA satellites. And outside the circle of Dutch astronomers, ANS seems to be just a footnote in Dutch space history and nearly forgotten.


Pictures: 1: ANS being tested at Philips, 2: The back-up flight article which nowadays is displayed in the Aviodrome and 3: the original thermic test article of ANS which was, at the time of the photo, a bit miserably fading away in a storage room of the Groningen University Museum.
Attached Thumbnails
ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-1974_740628-08-01_test_ans-satelliet_1974_mgzoom-ir-telescoop.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1030860.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1070320processed.jpg  
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:17 AM
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Okay, enough history. Back to here. Now, For ages, fellow paper modeler Erik te Groen showed his ‘large’ model of ANS on his great space models website but at the moment it still is unavailable for download because Erik wants to improve it. He just didn’t have the right documentation to really dig in. Now, I happen to be working on developing a documentary film about this very satellite. So I could exchange some necessary info and pics with him. As a gesture, he in return sent me the -partially improved - model. And here is how I am working on it.

Erik told me that this model was created a long time ago, the resolution wasn’t up to modern standards, and not all measurements were correct. But in the end I just want to create a nice looking model of ANS. While Erik’s model makes a good rendition of ANS’ exterior, I wanted to add the interior too. It was what made ANS unique.

Scratchbuilding it was, then. Erik’s parts have to wait for a moment. Lots of measuring and drawing and studying the hundreds of photos I have for making the documentary. It still all is pure guesstimate when it comes to measurements but I want to make it look like the real thing, not be the real thing. So, the inner frame might perhaps grossly deviate from the real thing. It is indended to just show the complexity of the insides of the satellite, not the exact measurements. I just don’t have them and the imagery I have is not clear about the dimensions. Besides, with all of the photos I have and the several different real life test models that were made, there were a couple of very different versions of ANS.

I needed to start somewhere, so the top and bottom parts were cut out and I started to superdetail them. I used layers of coloured paper for the hooks and grappling points. Aluminium coloured paper was used for the edges, and I used chrome metallic card for the bigger three holes on top where the telescopes will come.

I wanted to make the insides out of black coloured paper and I doubled 270 gram card to get the preferred thickness. I realised when making the first rudimental frame, the parts all were completely warped. I think it might be because of the direction of the fibres in the paper. I just folded a strip and glued it, the fibres all pointing in the same direction. I think that is what made it warp. So I retried by placing the paper surfaces in an angle of 90º, plywood style. This worked much better. Now I just used my eyes and all my sense of scale to try and get the places right to put the ‘shelves’ and the cut-outs in the walls where the cables would pass through.

With the ¾ view technical drawings I have, I could start and try to get the shelves and the instruments in the (almost) right places. With some more tinkering it starts to look like the real framework.
This was something special, in reality this was made from honeycomb magnesium plates. Very flammable and something completely new to the engineers at Fokker, who build the satellite’s frame for the electronics. I imitated the metallic honeycomb texture by colouring the edges of the black card in silver with a silver watercolour pencil.
And here's where I am right now. The top and bottom are still unglued. There's a lot of work to do in the frame itself. That is what will be up next.
Attached Thumbnails
ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120172.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120175.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120188.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120190.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120192.jpg  

ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120200.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120202.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120205.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120208.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120214.jpg  

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Old 07-17-2018, 06:46 AM
rmks2000 rmks2000 is offline
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Great job so far. I appreciate the background story of this satellite.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:53 AM
AnnMcmillin AnnMcmillin is offline
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Thank you for the history of the ANS! I was actually born in 1969, so I don't remember much anything from those years. It amazes me what they were able to accomplish, given the tools they had to work with!

Ann
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:13 AM
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Vinalssergio155 Vinalssergio155 is offline
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Very interesting historical review, thanks. The model is looking very good
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:33 PM
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Thanks! I really appreciate you all like the history part I told, because I am trying to make this film about the project and it's great to hear people are interested. If all goes well, the film will get english subs, so people abroad also will be able to understand the Dutch jibber-jabber.


I also can tell you, Erik te Groen is working on a more detailed, high res and bigger (1/8) scale model of ANS. I will just go on with this 1/12 version.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:51 PM
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Enjoying the build and the background history. Thanks for taking the time to explain.

Regards

Kevin
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Old 08-03-2018, 05:37 AM
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Here's just a tiny update: I am still working on ANS, but at the moment it is so hot and moist out here, a drop of glue dries before it hits the paper.

No fun at all to build or do anything in, actually.

All records concerning days without significant rainfall and heatwaves have been broken. So it all has to wait for another week or so until temperatures will fall again to more or less normal values...


On the other hand there also is some good news to tell: The 60 minute documentary film about ANS I was trying to get off the ground two years ago and went down when the broadcaster withdrew their support, well, it has been picked up again by a film producer and he told me yesterday we have a go on the project. We still have to discuss the budget, and the funding yet has to start, but the film's back in business! Yes!
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Old 08-03-2018, 09:59 AM
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Awesome to hear about the film, I am glad your vision is coming to life
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:34 AM
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Finally an update. Despite the scorching heat I managed to have some micro-sessions working on ANS.


First some more shots of the detailing of the top and bottom part of the satellite. I used several kinds of metallic paper to accentuate the rim and the small grappling hooks here and there. I also added a small lens to the coarse solar sensor (the small gold rectangle). The lens is a piece of LEE lighting filter.


Then the first instrument, the Soft X-ray Experiment thought up by the University of Utrecht. It was a conical mirror with a horizontal shield in the middle. Soft X-rays, having a long wavelength, would reflect, or rather bounce off the walls of the cone and fall into a receptor in a lower part of the satellite. The shield prevented other kinds of light from falling into the cone. I used shiny metallic card for the insides of the cone, aluminium coloured paper for the outside. I then doubled a strip and made ribs out of it around the cone. The shield inside was punched out the same shiny card and I used cut-off pieces of sewing pin for the positioning inside the cone.
Attached Thumbnails
ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120216.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120217.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120218.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120219.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120220.jpg  

ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120222.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120223.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120224.jpg   ANS - The first dutch adventure in space-p1120228.jpg  
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