EXPLORE rocket video

I know that the blog during the last week have been very poorly updated and I´m deeply sorry for this. Some more detailed posts about the data processing are on their way but in the mean time I just wanted to tip you about the EXPLORE team´s video which they recorded during the launch of REXUS 9 which where launched the day before our rocket. The video is recorded from a camera which where mounted on the side of the payload so they have managed to capture some great shots of the launch.

Due to copyright issues on the music the above clip may not be available everywhere so for those of you who can´t see it there is another clip without music.

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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.

Mario

SQUID in space video recording part 2

The flight

So yesterday was the day we all had been waiting for and the outcome could not have been better. It first started of quite early with a pre flight meeting at 7:15. During the meeting it stood clear that the rocket was not fully ready yet and that the launch crew would need at least half an hour to prepare it so the decision to delay the countdown with thirty minutes to 8:30 were taken. This half hour where soon prolonged to an hour but suddenly it was time to initiate the countdown. The countdown procedure that was used lasts for two hours and at about T-1h30m we had the chance to check the communication with our experiment. Since we had seen quite some trouble with this earlier we were very happy to see that everything checked out fine for us. After the experiment checkout the experiments were powered down again until T-10 m. At this point we sent the mission mode command to the experiment and received the so called SOE signal which in our case switches on the internal batteries. Everything worked out fine but during the whole procedure we were only waiting for the hold which we all thought would come but suddenly it was time for the so well known 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 and suddenly we could all see though the windows of the science centre how the rocket accelerated up n to the sky. At T+72.7s we lost contact with the experiment which meant that the FFU had been ejected from the rocket. Now everything we could do was to sit and wait until we would receive any messages either on the beacon receiver or on the website were we check for received messages from the satellite  transmitter. After about five aver full minutes we finally started to receive blank messages. This at least meant that the parachute had opened as planed and a little while later we started to receive the position. We were all excited over the success in deed everything worked as planned so when the helicopter went to recover the FFU it found the FFU lying just at the position of the final coordinates. At this point we were sitting extremely nervous in the operation room to hear any news from the helicopter which were behind a mountain which meant that we did not have any radio contact with it. So when we finally reached them and they told us that they had the FFU in the helicopter we all screamed of happiness!

Video from the SQUID experiment in space part 1

Ejection takes place at about +70 s

Live stream from science centre

The launch is now scheduled for 11:00 local time. This means that T-1h is passed. For those of you who´d like follow us live there is a livestream from the science centre available at: http://www.livestream.com/focus_rexus

Last thoughts ahead of “Soft launch” tomorrow

As I bet most of yo already know by now we will hopefully be able to launch our experiment on the REXUS 10 rocket tomorrow. The launch is scheduled as a “soft launch” meaning that if something would go wrong during the count down then the launch will be cancelled. In a normal case a countdown might just have been kept on hold for a similar problem until it have been fixed. This means that at least I am quite nervous right now, I´m quite sure that the coming night won´t give as much rest as I would like to but I´ll really try to sleep as much as possible.

As a last teaser ahead of tomorrows scheduled launch I´d like to share some of my pictures from today including the team picture in front of the REXUS 10 rocket as well as some pictures of the return of the REXUS 9 payload.