REXUS 9 test count down and an amazing aurora

So yesterday it was finally time to start the test countdowns, during the morning meeting it however stood clear that not everyone where ready so they had to delay the countdown until after lunch. Therefore the team headed down to the church to get some stuff we had left there. Well down at the church we had a chance to see the REXUS 10 payload once again, now fully assembled together with the recovery module.

Right after lunch the two hours countdown was initiated. As a team leader for REXUS 10 I where allowed in the scientific center to observe the count down. Due to some problems with the relay box at the launcher the countdown where once again held at  -1 hour. Since the crew wanted to make sure that they fixed the problem the right way it took a while before it was okay to continue the count down. Just after the one hour mark we could observe on a video link in the operation room,  the last preparations of the rocket and the elevation of the rocket it self at the launcher. The rest of the countdown went well and resulted in success so now we are waiting for a real countdown of the REXUS 9 which will be launched today (tuesday) at 10:00 local time (UTC+1).

After the test there where not much left of the day but Helen Page held a great workshop about outreach and especially how to handle TV-inteviews. Just before ten yesterday night the rumor spread at the hotel about an Aurora so everyone run outside to get a look at it. It turned out to be an amazing aurora and even if I succeeded to get some pictures of it, they are not even close to the real thing! That, I can tell you for sure!

Now we are of course all looking forward to the launch of REXUS 9 and I hope to be able to provide some more pictures later on today.

Space ..there we go!!!

Written by Monica

Today is the last day of the first week of the Launch Campaing…that means it is also a special Sunday….many events…..they would put the nosecone to the rocket that means SQUID would be covered and we wouldn’t see it again until we recovered after mission 🙂 …. so we wanted to be at that moment but until then we had some free time so what we did was to go to the marvelous ICE HOTEL..we had access to the art rooms and they are amazing… a bit cold 🙂 but different from last year….you could see some photos .. then after been impressed by the hotel we came back to the ESRANGE but what was our surprise than we not only encounter a group of three reindeer but also another group with four of them …it was very nice to see them running along with us….but of course one needs to be careful….it is very dangerous to crash with them ..and actually we found in the side road a dead reindeer 😦 ..

Then after we return to ESRANGE we had a meeting were the team leaders should explain why your experiment was ready to FLIGHT!!…of course before being able to confirm that…we had a discussion previous the meeting.  We found out 3 major problems in SQUID during this week (1.GPS position, 2.Communication between RMU and FFU and 3. SCALE behavior), but thanks to a group work and dedication we solved them without setbacks and we feel quite confident our SQUID will perform successfully 😀 …then finally Gustav sign the papers where he as a representative of SQUID team say SQUID IS READY TO FLIGHT!!! and as Olle Persson said all we are WINNERS because we arrive to this point 🙂

So the activities ended and we deciide to relax a bit and watch some movies….so then we can start the most exciting and slowly week!!

Final assembly madness

Yesterday was the day when we had to finish the experiment in order to be mounted on the rocket. So more than finished, it shall be FINISHED. Quite a challenging task for us with the different problems we usually have whenever we try to do some similar to mounting the whole thing. From the previous post you should be aware that we were having a very long night, which ended up at 6.30 in the morning. Everything was going quite well, mounting was in progress, the problem with the GPS was solved, SCALES were put together and working etc. But when we mounted the FFU on the RMU a new problem popped up: lack of communication. The preload of the ejection spring was making the gap between the FFU and RMU too big for the umbilical pins, which were unable to have a proper connection with the e-box. This was a massive problem, as if we were not able to speak with the FFU when mounted in the rocket, we would be unable to send the mission mode command and we would fly a dead experiment.

We started analyzing different options, and we even started filing down the umbilical plates in order to be able to move the pins further up, allowing a proper communication. Mikko also came with the idea of modifying the pins in order to increase their length. They would not look as pretty but seemed to be a reliable solution. But we were extremely tired at the time after the 22 hour work day, and as we had to work later in the morning, we decided to go to bed and sleep a couple of hours.

What happened afterwards was a bit confusing. It was decided that some people should try to sleep a bit longer in order to go to the workplace later on and be more fresh. I was one of them, and I was supposed to be there at 10. However, my alarm did not went on (or i was so asleep that i didnt even hear it) and I was woken up at 12 by Georg and Gustav, claiming that it was lunchtime and that all the problems were solved. The pins of the FFU were made longer following Mikko’s solution and that the whole assembly was completely finished, so it was a pretty good way to start the day.

The rest of the day was much more relaxed, we mounted the experiment into the rocket, checked communication almost every time we touched the experiment and fix the last details (putting connectors to the service module and pyro cutter, securing cables etc etc.) After that, dinner, sauna and beer and long sleep.


SCALE systems and further tests

So the launch campaign continues here at Erange. It is now Friday night and the testing continues. Today another three bench tests have been performed and they all went well. Our experiment is working fine with the other experiments and the rocket module.

This morning, hopefully, we made the final tests with the wire boom, SCALE, systems and they are mounted and prepared for the hot bench test where all the scale systems will be tested one final time. During the hot bench test the pyrocutter will be activated and that will test the mechanism for the FFU deployment.

The testing of the wire boom mechanism has continued during this week and we’ve had both success and setbacks. We are working hard at testing the different systems and the GPS and wire booms have given us some extra challenges. The four wire booms have to work at the same time deploying the same amount of wire. The systems are supposed to deploy about 90 cm of cable but for some of them it only deploys about 60 cm before the motor stats to stalling. We have been testing and testing and now feel we have reached some results. The friction in the system has always been a point for improvement but we are now confident we have made some progress. The result so far on the wire boom systems are that they work more than half of the time and we will pray and keep our fingers crossed that the systems will work at launch.

It is now after midnight and we are working hard to make sure the experiment will be ready for the payload assembly tomorrow morning. The hot flight simulation earlier this evening went o but we still have some work to get ready for launch.

Cross your fingers for us and read the blog for the coming week.

Launch campaign, Wednesday and Thursday

Yesterday continued with preparation for the hot bench test and launch. The experiment looks good and only the final touches were required. Planned was to replace the wires with brand new ones for the SCALE system and the final assembly of the E-box. The SCALES worked excellently after receiving new wires and the bad RF board that was bothering us was replaced with the functioning test board, or so we thought. The Scales were functioning perfectly for a few test but started stalling again one by one, also the system does still not receive any GPS fix. So no rest for us then before launch.

Thursday continued with working on the SCALES and bench testing the full flight sequence. I and Gustaf were functioning as the launch officers for the behalf of SQUID. A series of six full simulated launch sequences were carried out with all the REXUS 10 rocket system and experiments and I can say that my confidence of the system grew with every test as SQUID functioned flawlessly every time, even with some hiccups with the ground support equipment.

As me and Georg are staying at Kiruna, we must drive every day to and from Esrange, a rather exciting 45 minute trip with slippery roads close encounters with the local fauna. One could say that thousands of ears of evolution have not prepared reindeers hove to cope with the resent invention of modern motor transportation. At any moment, a pack of reindeers can decide to utilize the flat snow free strip of terrain called road by the humans to try escape the roaring Chevrolet beast we are driving.


Live streams from the church

We´d just like to tip about two different livestreams which are currently transmitting from the church (which is the building we´re working in). The streams are set up by two other teams so you probably won´t see that much of us but at lest you´d get a feeling of the spirit inside the church.

Launch campaign episode 2

So the clock is now 00:20 am and of course it would not be a launch campaign without problems and late nights. When testing the SCALE systems it turned out they were not operating as previously and the deployment got interrupted in some of the units. So now we are working in order to fix it. Only problem is that this time we are not at KTH and the launch campaign is not “soon” but now and the deadlines are for real. So the team just kicked in the 45:th gear, poured yet a cup of black “wake up” magic liquid, polished the fog out of our eyes and stomped on the gas. We’re going on fumes here so lets hope we really get all the way.

In the meantime enjoy episode 2 of the launch campaign now including the road trip from KTH to Esrange and Monday at Esrange.

Launch campaign, Tuesday

So, now the launch campaign has officially started. All the teams have arrived, the “church” is really crowded and we do have a lack of chairs, power outlets and network connections. Not to mention that we are short of working space.

However it feels cosy and with the outside temperature it feels really nice to have enough people in here to keep the assembly hall warm.

We have conducted our last landing system test by putting the system it in a vacuum chamber and making sure that the pressure sensor and the oven cutter work in a proper way.This was done under time pressure, as there were still some things to be sorted out with the rocket service module and they found out that they needed us on the spot when we had just left for the test. On the other hand it was actually really tricky to find a feasible power outlet for the test because the building there is taken by the French from CNES and thus most of the power outlets there were french at the moment. Eventually the pressure test went really well and the top plate ejected as it should at the matching pressure for 5500 metres.

In the evening we prepared the SCALES with the flight cable and conducted a couple of tests in order to be sure they work.

Unfortunately Mikko and I were missing out on the sauna as we are accommodated in Kiruna and this means a one hour ride from Esrange. We almost had an accident with a reindeer instead.

Launch campaign, sunday and monday.

So finally at ESRANGE, feels good. We have lots of expactations for a good launch campaign and hopefully everything will turn out well in the end.

For sunday we had pretty much decided to take it slow, relax and rest after the trip. The day started with breakfast pretty soon after arrival followed by watching a balloon launch. Unfortunately the launch was aborted and instead the team decided to drive into town to sort out some stuff and also take the opportunity to visit a local market. Upon returning to ESRANGE it was already evening and after a nice dinner we headed of to the workshop where we will be working in order to unload the experiment from the car. The day was later nicely round of with a good sauna.

Following on monday the work began directly after breakfast. The SQUID team headed of to the rocket workshop, also known as the church for the characteristic shape of the building. There we prepared our working place and started to unpack the experiment and the tools, setting everything up and even starting to work. During the afternoon it was decided that we were actually going to perform a test of the top plate ejection system the next day which set the team of in a rush to prepare the experiment. The test was meant to test that the altimeter inside the eBox activated the cutter at the correct pressure altitude of about 5500 m. So we worked hard for the rest of the day, pushing for assembly of all systems needed to perform the test and late in the evening we were finally finished. But as always there were some fun things happening. Late in the evening a bit before we were to finish up the gas alarm was activated. Turned out being nothing serious but always fun with something to wake you up a bit 😀

No sauna was in question as we were back at the hotel at around 10 pm, but after chilling for a while we all felt the need for sleep as tomorrow was the first official day of the launch campaign and of course all of us wanted to be in good shape for all the wonderful work to come =D

O yeah right before heading of to the hotel the team got the opportunity to watch some beautiful aurora. Suddenly the cold didn’t seem to get to us, standing outside in the dark, watching the wonderful morphing aurora sky was most properly described as magical.


The trip!

After some busy days fo preparations it was finally time for departure for the final travel up to ESRANGE Kiruna. The plan, as I´m pretty sure everyone know by now, was to drive our way up. The trip from Stockholm to Kiruna is more than 1200 km but we had decided to try to drive it without stoping on our ways (excluding breaks and such of course). We all met at SPP at 10:00 saturday to pack our bags into the car. After a quick coffee  we started to pack. It all went quite quick and we were actually able to drive out from SPP before planned meaning that we left SPP at 11:20. I, Gustav, took care of the first part of the drive which took us up to just north of Gävle (about 200 km north of Stockholm). From there the trip continued with only short breaks for refueling (the car is quite thirsty using about 1.8 l / 10 km) with Boden as our next target. Just before Umeå the team where however stopped by the police since they thought we where going back and forward on the road (the car is kind of tricky to steer actually). All of us were of course a bit stressed up and it was of course worst  for Georg who were driving and therefore had to be tested for alcohol. However after that unplanned stop the trip continued until we reached Boden. There we got a great welcome and a great dinner at Davids parents restaurant, Oscar II. After plenty of good food (and quite a loth of coffee) we continued north. At about half past four in the morning it was once again my time to take care of the driving (in total we were six of us sharing the driving but I were the only one having to drive twice). The first part of this shift was in total darkness but after about twenty minutes we encountered three raindeers who where standing in the middle of thew raod. However we passed them without any problems. After 45 minutes the sun started to rise which were kind of lucky since I at that point were quite tired. Soon enough we arrived to ESRANGE (at about 7:30 in the morning to be exact). By then we had been  on the road for 20 hours straight.