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.

Last week of preparations ahead of launch campaign

So today is the second day of the last week ahead of the launch campaign. We’re all very excited and are all doing our very best in order to prepare the experiment. So what does “Prepare the experiment” this actually mean? In our project this mean that we first disassemble most of the experiment, checks the parts and then screws everything back together using new screws and Loctite. However before we start with any of these tasks we´re of course finishing off old tasks as well. Mainly this have to do with tests which we did not have time with earlier. These tests includes a variety of functionality’s, like for example the activation of the bacon transmitter which we use to recover the experiment, and of course the SCALE systems . During the remaining part of the week I hope that there will be plenty of events worth mentioning here,but for now this short post will have to do. I´ll attach some pictures from the last days as well. However I have one exciting thing to tell you about, during last week the situation in our work room / lab became impossible. Therefore I decided to use a couple of hours to change the room. We added a couple of tables, some bookshelves and also some nice working lights. You can see the newly shaped room in the photos I attached. As a continuation of this work we also went through the parts inventory and we now hope we´ve managed to sort out how many parts we have and where they are for the moment.

Preparing for launch campaign

Some time have last since we last wrote a real blog post (if you disregard the posts about the bench test in Munich). As you may have understood we had problems with establishing a reliable internet connection during our last visit. Therefore, lazy as we are, we used our well prepared post during last week instead even if we were home already by friday the week before. So what have we been doing since we came back? Most of the time have been devoted to writing the SED which is the main documentation of the project. The newest version contains 659 pages which describes pretty much everything worth knowing about the project. This week will instead be used to prepare all those last fixes which needs to be done. In fact we’re quite lucky since the experiment is in Stockholm for spin balancing. After this we have the chance to kidnap the experiment and then bring it our selves to Kiruna.  However this week started of with that David and Mario had to go out to Kista in order to prepare the experiment for balancing. When they where there they goth some good pictures of the payload and the experiment so I’ll attach them to this post!

A summary of the system integration and vibration week

So as most of you already know me (Gustav), Malin, Mario and Monica went down to Bremen last week to deliver the experiment. What happened down there have already been told in a number of blog posts so I’ll try to write some about a few events which have yet not been told on the blog and then I’ll add some pictures which have yet not been published.

Oil needs to be refilledSo just as we where about to leave Denmark on out way down I noticed that the warning light for the Oil level started to flash. Since we where not the owners of the car we figured it was best to try to find the specified oil for the engine and where would you try to find a oil for a Volkswagen? well in Germany of course. So we continued the drive and took the ferry over. Well in Germany we stopped at the second fuel station and tried to find the right oil. I and Malin went in to the store, however the personnel did not speak very much english and we did not speak german. Somehow though we succeeded to explain what we wanted and also understood that they where out of the specific oil in the shop however they had it in a barrel in the workshop at the backyard. So we joined the mechanic (who by the way did not speak a word of english) back to to workshop. There we could not see the right markings on the barrel but he insisted on that it was the right one, suddenly he disappeared and we started to hesitate about the whole idea so we went back to the shop to say that we would leave. But the cashier just wanted us to wait so there we stood until the mechanic came back, it turned out that he had went away to get his glasses. Well back in the workshop again we soon found the right markings on the barrel and we agreed so he took an old oilcan and pumped up 3/4 of a liter in it. When we came out to the car Mario and Monica seemed really surprised looking at the old oil can. The mechanic was however very helpful and refilled the car. At the end we only had to pay 9€ so I must confess it was very service for the low price!

Mario brakes the locks

So first night in Bremen we carried the experiment up to the girls room just to be on the safe side and not leave it in the car. Well there Mario decided to check the status of the parts so he tried to open the box not knowing that it was in fact locked. However Mario is strong so in the close combat with Mario they soon gave up and went to thousand pieces. To bad the box was not ours but instead belonged to M-beam (who kindly enough have now let us continue to barrow the box). Somehow though Mario and Malin put the locks back together so even if they do not work any longer they are at least in the right place.


Well at the hotel we where asked if we where going to have breakfast there each morning since it was extra and quite expensive (9€ a day). I thought that we could just as well do so but the next morning i really regret my decision since the breakfast was definitely not worth the money. So the next the day we instead joined some of the other teams over to the central station where we found a great bakery where we had breakfast which tasted a lot better and was half the price. It ended up with us eating breakfast there every morning for the rest of the week.


Lost in Bremen

So last night in Bremen all REXUS teams went out to eat together. I convinced the others that we could just as well walk to the restaurant (yes I’m cheap, i did not want to pay for tram tickets). On our way we walked through the Christmas market and there I just stopped to get a good photo. Somehow though i missed that the others made a sharp turn so I continued straight forward and sone i realized that I was on my own. I called Malin and she somehow managed to get me on the right track. Soon however I could not longer recognize here description of the road so I tried to call Adam from ESA who somehow explained how I could find the others. Soon enough I once again where in the safety of the group.


Last day spent in the christmas market

Last day we spent an hour in the christmas marked. This was something we had been trying to do the whole week but since we had been working so much we had never had the time. So we took the chance to at least have a quick look on the market. It was definitely worth it, we goth a good view of the market and also went in to the cathedral which where very impressing!

No english

So after criticizing the germans for not being able to speak very much english I where very surprised on our way home. Somewhere in the middle between Helsingborg and Stockholm we made a coffee break. First to order was Mario who made his order in english to the young girl in the restaurant. I must say that I was quite surprised when i realized that she where not able to reply and probably not understood very much of what he said either. I really thought that basic english skills where a part of every young swedes knowledge but this event proved me to be wrong.

So all in all we had a great week, even if there was plenty of work. We also managed to get good results on our tests and we are know back to work in  Stockholm. As it seems most of us will have a couple of weeks well deserved vacation during christmas. But we will soon be back.

busy, busy, busy

I just realized, it seems we were too busy to actually inform you about all our problems and the work that has happened on the structure and especially on the deployment system during the last couple of weeks.

When we started to put the SCALE-system together about six weeks ago we found out, that we actually had some pretty big problems with friction, and where not really able to feed out the cable at all. The main problem here was the feed through mechanism of the main cogwheel where the cable is supposed to glide through easily. Now after a lot of trial and error and some help the system is working and it’s amazing how much better the feed-through works now.  So much about summing up the biggest problem we had recently. However I hope Malin finds some time soon to fill you in on the more detailed progress on the SCALE.

Then more recently we thought about panicking on Friday, because the M-Beam

– Team from Austria called us in order to get some more space. There experiment is going to sit right below ours in the rocket and we had discussed how much space they need, but for some reason it got bigger anyway. After some discussion it seems to be the easiest if we just raise our experiment a bit. Still we got kind of shocked and M-Beam seemed to be pretty desperate at first. I just hope we don’t experience any more problems due to that issue.

Fortunately there is something going according to the plans  (at least almost) and the manufacturing of the flight versions of some different parts has started. The first flight frame is finished, David is working on the first set of walls, which seems to be difficult, but with some training I am sure he will manage to bend them in a way so the fit “perfectly”. Then for next week it is planned, that all parts for the RMU are finished, and with some luck we will even have the outer housing of the first FFU done and finished.

Messages from the workshop

Actually I should have don this post two weeks ago and I do have a bad conscience because I left id undone, but as I am leaving for Munich on Sunday bad conscience is disabled for  next week.

Still I have to bring my excuses up, to assure you, I wasn’t only twiddling my thumbs. While I spent the last week getting familiar with the simulation task and working on the camera box the week before that was taken by redesigning the Rocket interface disk (RID) so we could finally order it.

As you may know from earlier entries we are producing some of the things we are using stuff ourselves. The prototypes for the drop test where manufactured in house, the boxes for the camera and the NSSB are produced here as well as the pusher ring and some other small parts.

I was working down in the workshop during the last week quite a lot in order to get the camerabox ready, and as you can see something has happened. You wouldn’t believe how much much swarf one can produce from 100mmx40mmx40mm block when you have to make a box of it. Unfortunately it’s not finished yet, but it’s on a good way! At the same time the battery clamp had to be bent and using a hammer and some tape I produced one that works, in order to make a flight one however there will be some more practice involved.

Sugen på att veta mer om KTH och SQUID?

Besök oss vid Elektrotekniks bord på KTHs Öppet Hus nu på söndag mellan 12-15 och måndag 14-17! Förutom att kika på plasmaexperiment och peta på rymdinstrument kan ni även ställa frågor och få information om alla de utbildningar KTH erbjuder, och lyssna på populärvetenskapliga föreläsningar om allt möjligt!

Mer info och program bakom länken

Ses där!

Come meet us and learn more about KTH at the Open House event, this Sunday from 12 to 15 and Monday from 14 to 17 at the info Center and E-Building, near Valhallavägen. See you there!

Så vad är det vi ska göra egentligen? / So what's all this about then?

Since our experiment is very complex and has many tasks to carry out, we thought it was high time to describe its mission and give you an overview of the experiment itself. First, the mission timeline!

Vårt experiment är komplext och det är många olika saker det ska lyckas med under sitt uppdrag. Det är hög tid för en lite mer ingående beskrivning! Vi börjar med uppdraget, och följer upp med ett inlägg om själva experimentet och alla dess delsystem.


It’s in the beginning of March 2011. The Free Flying Unit (FFU) part of the experiment sits right underneath the nose cone of the rocket. It’s shaped like a disc and held firmly in place by a wire against a plate with electrical contacts. Nearby is a forward facing camera, ready to record the ejection from the rocket.

Det är i början av mars 2011. Den friflygande delen av SQUID-experimentet, FFUn, som ser ut som en pepparkaksburk, sitter under noskonen på REXUS-raketen, fastspänd med hjälp av en vajer mot en bottenplatta med elektronikkontakt. Alldeles i närheten, på den raketfästa delen, RMUn, sitter en framåtriktad kamera, redo att filma utskjutningen.

An example of how the FFU may be attached inside the nosecone of the rocket. The airbags and their covers are not shown here

Lift-off! Suddenly everything on the rocket is subjected to 20g of acceleration and is shaken violently, as the fins of the rocket spins it up to 4 rotations a second. Thanks to all the vibration testing our experiment stays in one piece, and after 60 seconds and at an altitude of 60km the nose cone is ejected. Shortly thereafter a small explosive charge cuts the wire holding the FFU in place, and a powerful spring pushes it away from the rocket.

Starten går och experimentet utsätts plötsligt för en tyngd på nästan 20g och skakas våldsamt, samtidigt som raketens fenor sätter snurr på farkosten. Tack vare alla tidigare vibrationstester håller dock allt ihop, och efter 60 sekunder vid 60 kilometers höjd skjuts plötsligt noskonen iväg. Kort därefter smäller en liten krutladdning fastsatt vid vajern, och en stark fjäder puttar iväg FFU.

The mission has started. The camera attached to the rocket records the receding FFU while it starts deploying the wire booms. Just before they are fully deployed, the motors lower the deployment rate, and they end up at full length without any swinging. Our calculations were correct! Any swinging in the wire booms would disturb the measurements and it was important that this deployment technique worked.

Uppdraget har börjat. Kameran på raketen filmar den ivägfarande FFUn medan den matar ut sina fyra trådbommar. Precis innan de är fullt utmatade drar motorerna ned på utmatningstakten, och de stannar i ytterläget utan några svängningar. Vi har räknat rätt! Svängningar skulle störa mätningarna och det var viktigt att de fälldes ut på rätt sätt.

The FFU floating in space, wire booms extended. The airbags and their covers are not shown in this picture.

The FFU is now far from the rocket, and its built-in sensors have collected data from the deployment so we can recreate it in simulation later. As it’s nearing the thicker parts of the atmosphere it’s time to pull in the wire booms. The motors have to fight the centrifugal force as the experiment still has the spin from the rocket, but the booms are pulled in before the underside of the disc starts heating up from the air pressing against it. Soon the surface temperature is over a hundred degrees Celsius.
After the violent reentry the experiment is now falling towards the frosty wilderness of Kiruna. About five kilometers above the snow a cutter cuts the rope holding the airbag covers in place, and soon thereafter the pressure tanks inflate the airbags. Between the four airbags a parachute is stretched, and soon the speed is below 10 meters per second.
FFUn är nu långt från raketen, och dess inbyggda sensorer har samlat data om utmatningen så vi kan återskapa hela förloppet i datorn senare. Den är på väg ner mot atmosfären igen och det är dags att dra in antennerna. Motorerna får jobba hårt mot centrifugalkraften, för experimentet snurrar fortfarande. Antennerna hinner dras in innan undersidan på “kakburken” börjar hettas upp av de extremt snabba luftströmmarna, och snart är ytan hundra grader varm. Efter den våldsamma inbromsningen mot atmosfären faller nu experimentet mot Kirunas snöklädda ödemarker. Ungefär fem kilometer över marken kapas den vajer som håller fast luckorna som skyddat luftkuddarna, och strax därefter öppnas tankarna och luftkuddarna blåses upp. Den fallskärm de spänner upp bromsar upp hastigheten till under 10 meter per sekund.

The airbag concept from LAPLander

The FFU falling with airbags deployed (model from the LAPLander drop test)

Just before impact the FFU uses a small satellite modem to transmit its GPS position, which will allow us to pinpoint its landing site. At landing, the airbags cushion the landing, and directly afterwards the recovery beacon starts transmitting. It’s now up to the recovery crew from Esrange in their helicopters to find and recover our experiment so we can analyze the data!
Strax före nedslaget skickar FFUn iväg sin GPS-position med ett litet satellitmodem. När den slår i marken hindrar luftkuddarna den från att sjunka djupt ner i snön, och direkt efter åt slår den igång sin spårsändare. Nu är det upp till recovery-personalen i helikoptrarna att återfinna den så vi kan analysera datan.

The recovery crew at a Maser sounding rocket, after landing in the wilderness north of Esrange. Hopefully, our experiment will be recovered the same way. Click for full video, copyright SSC

Samma blogg, nytt ansikte

English: The second phase of the KTH on the Inside competition has been kicked off, and with it, KTHs new outrach portal!

Many of us in SQUID are busy with exams this week and the next, so work on the project is temporarily going a bit slower. We promise to keep you updated with all the happenings though… and some exciting things have been going on the last week! Stay tuned.

Nu drar andra fasen av KTH på Insidan-tävlingen igång, och med detta öppnas KTHs nya portal!

Många av vi i SQUID har fullt upp med tentor denna och nästa vecka, så arbetet går inte så snabbt just nu. Vi ska dock hålla er uppdaterade här via bloggen, det har hänt en del spännande den senaste veckan!

Twitter Updates for 2010-03-05

  • Gunnar and David went to Gransegel, that produce sails, to check out materials for the new airbags, good results #