First post flight analysis

After the successful launch of Rexus 10 we still have a lot of things to do. There is a lot of data stored on the FFU which will have to be analyzed in order to fully understand how the system has behaved and recover the scientific data gathered by the experiment. This data is stored in the memory inside the e-box and has not yet been extracted as the FFU was wet after landing in the snow, and as water and electronics dont like each other we decided to leave it drying.

But probably you have already seen the video we posted yesterday. The images are impressive, but the main objective of mounting the camera was to film the FFU in order to be able to check how the spheres were deployed. Unfortunately the experiment module was coning (it had a quite high precession angle) and the FFU was lost from the field of view of the camera after a few seconds. However, if one analyzes the movie carefully can extract some useful information. On the pictures you can see some snapshots taken from the camera shortly after ejection, when the FFU was still in the field of view. Of one checks the pictures from 2 to 7 can see the doors of the SCALE systems popping out gradually (all four of them) which means that the SCALE systems were in fact working, as the doors can only be released if the motor of the wire boom systems are working.

The FFU also appears later on in the video. It was however very far from the experiment module and details can hardly be identified. One can see it in the last pictures, on the bottom half of the photos close to the edge of the ejection spring (dont get confused by the brilliant thing appearing on the top of the photos, which is the nose cone of the rocket). We were unlucky enough to have the sun very close to the area on which the FFU was flying, so on the photos it usually appears as a shiny thing close to the spring. There is however a very interesting photo. If one checks the very last picture, one can see the FFU body very close to the edge of the spring and what seems to be two of the spheres close to it.

We do know that at least two of the spheres were deployed, as when we recovered the FFU two of the cables had been damaged during reentry, probably because the motors driving the wire boom systems could not overcome the centrifugal force during retraction and stalled, leaving the spheres on the free airstream, which ripped them off the cable. We will not know surely how they worked until we really process the data, specially from the sensor wheels on the SCALE systems and of the gyros and accelerometers of the FFU, but so far so good.


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.


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.


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, 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.


Preparations and departure for launch campaign

So I am currently writing this message in the empty SQUID-room at SPP, KTH, the clock is 11:12 and the experiment is packed and the team is ready to travel to Kiruna in the SQUID-mobile. We look forward towards a great launch campaign and hope everything will turn out well for everyone.

See this latest video about the preparations and check the youtube channel frequently, daily updates are planned.

Movie from bench-test

Laaadies and Gentlemen, aliens and alienesses!!

SQUID productions is proud (TBD :p ) to present a true action movie full of drama and comedy, the ultimate adventure and sci-fi movie ever, a war-story, thriller and documentary  it is:

REXUS 10 bech-test, a very short summary from Thursday and early Friday.

Enjoy 😀

The more productive wednesday

Today was the first day of the REXUS 10 bench test. The day started off with all the teams arriving and unpacking their experiments. For SQUID all looked good, experiment checked out in the REXUS simulator and the riggin for test ejection of the FFU during the hot bench test was ready so we proceeded to mounting the FFU onto the RMU. Of course at this point things have gone too smoothly for us so a failure or problem did not suprise us at all when it now happened. As the FFU was being mounted and the wire tensioned the end of the wire held by the clamp inside the FFU somehow got released. This meant that we had to reinstall a new wire which in turn meant disasemblying the experiment because the wire clamp is of course placed on one of the more unreachable places in the FFU. However a bit after lunch the SQUID experiment was ready and we could proceed to connecting it with the rocket service module. Then the bench-test started.

We performed two successful soft runs, soft being that no pyros were fired and some experiments did not fully deploy but communications and signals worked as the should. The bench-test procedure was carried out as a simulation of the actual mission with countdown starting at t-10 minutes, confirming experiments got power and recieved signals. At zero the launch signal for rocket takeoff was issued, about 60 seconds later nose-cone ejection was announced and after that at t+73 SQUID ejection was announced, the rocket despun and onboard experiments activated. Mission was completed at t+10 minutes with experiments power off. Thats a brief walkthrough of the mission and bench-test procedure.

One strange anomality could was noted during the runs which was that when SQUID recieved the SOE signal, which switches on the experiment, the Lift off signal was recieved at the same moment. This should not happen but somehow a glitch occurs and makes the system think it has recieved LO. However this does not introduce any real problems into the experiment as the only thing relying on LO is the RMU mounted camera but we will still need to investigate this a bit.

It was a bit nervous as one could get a feeling for how the real launch would then feel. Tomorrow the hot bench test will take place where the FFU will actually be ejected for real. This is gonna be nervwrecking to experience but oooooh so much fun =D also a television team is coming so we hope that everything really turns out well.

Upon returning to the hotel in the evening the boss commanded that we continue working before getting food and drink (schnitzel and beer :p ) so as soon as this blog post was written we set out to do what we usually do in the evenings.

Switch this switch that, then switch back ?!?!?!….. and locked by random password??????!?

Ok, so its well past the midnight hour on december the 4th and yes, the SQUID team is up and working at SPP, should i say as usual??? The hour for delivery has come upon us quicker than what we actually wanted and we don’t have time to invent a time-stopping machine, unfortunately (yeah like we probably could if we wanted right?? who knows, if you have the answer please call 3920539236289306235) ;P

Yes we are starting to get tired and so with tiredness the humor drops quite exponentially so this blog post should not be taken seriously, except for the parts which are serious of course.

What’s happening at this hour that still keeps us together, awake and here then?? well we certainly are not having a nice party, even if we laugh part of the time (due to tiredness ;P). No in fact we started preparing the experiment for delivery, yesterday (friday) and somehow the SQUID just does not want to travel to Germany and DLR (=PROBLEMS!!), even though it actually is a nice trip.

So all assembly procedure documents are precent and we have the parts and a ready for assembly…. point after point is checked off and the assembly of the eBox continues. Ok, good its done, nice HURRAY… now let’s just make sure it works…………………… there really are no words to describe the following set of events, but here is what happened. While running the test on the electronics we encountered that the read write procedure of our FPGA had suddenly, due to some cosmic far away strange black hole mystery thing which gave it and own free will, created and placed a random password upon itself. Now how can that actually occur??? but I am quite sure that if something would create and do something like that it would have chosen exactly this day, place, time and space project to annoy.

What we did afterwards is actually already described in the title. We decided to switch the flight eBox main board to the one inside our test eBox which should be identical according to specifications but of course it was not. Anyway the switch took place and about 45 minutes later when we had unscrewed all the locktited screws and everything and replaced it with the spare main board from the test eBox (and once again locktited the screws) we could conclude that something was fishy here as well. Fortunately Monica had soldered a new FPGA on the fligh main board while the rest of us were spending our time playing trivial pursuit with the other one (no one got a single piece of the cake). So doing everything backwards we now arrived at the point where we actually started off, but without the possessed FPGA this time so HURRAY success! And now let us test it….wait….wait…HURRAY it works!!!! Time to start working again, oooh how i have waited for this moment. I don’t really know how it is going over in the lab as I am currently sitting in a separate room (the library) and writing but as no one is coming here it can either be good news due to that everyone is busy with continuing to work and prepare for assembly… or bad news due to that some are working on fixing fishy stuff while others are sleeping.

No in fact we are finally making progress and I just recieved word from the BIG BOSS that Im soon needed so time for me to wrap up this blog post and join the rest for a coffee.



The battle is won but the war is not yet over.

Today SQUID had it’s EAR (Experiment Acceptance Review) which is the last review before delivery. We pushed through limited time, stressfull days, missing components, late workshop evenings, burning electronic boards, short circuited batteries, system failures, moodswings etc. and finally got through the EAR with positive results.

Mikael Inga was visiting us from the Swedish Space Corporation to carry out the EAR and most of the team was present to discuss and demonstrate the experiments current functionality. The day started of at 9:30 in the morning with a check through what has been done on earlier comments recieved from REXUS and what tests we have performed since last IPR.  Just before lunch we started of by demonstrating the functionality and workings of the experiment interface electronics and after lunch followed a more thorough experiment functionality demonstration in which we let the system run through parts of the intended operational phases finally leading to the moment of thruth, the decision. SQUID has passed EAR but as always there are comments and things to care about but nothing came up that we weren’t already aware of.

Next up is delivery and the team will now take the weekend off to recuperate from the last two weeks of battle because on monday we need to pick up the pace even further. Systems have to be fully tested, fligh boards assembled to the ebox and tested, assembly of a second FFU has to start and everyone should be happy and prepared for hard work (at least us slaves have to be) otherwise the big boss will come after us with his grand master-whip which he talks so much about nowadays 😛