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.

Celebrating a successful campaign

As the case is for the end of most hectic periods in life one of course needs to end them by a great party. During a launch campaign this is done at the campaign party. Originally the idea was that is should have taken place during thursday night but since REXUS10 was successfully launched already by wednesday this plan was changed because as Olle said “everyone will celebrate during Wednesday night anyhow so we can just as well have the party by then as well”. The deal for the party was that Esrange would arrange food and beverage while the teams had to arrange the entertainment. Our idea was to arrange a bloopers video which David edited during the last hours before the party with some help from the rest of the team. At seven o clock all teams gathered outside the canteen where Olle explained the idea for the night which was that we would use standing tables in order to get more circulation in between the different teams. Thereafter we all went in to the canteen to get some food, the Esrange cooks had prepared a great meal based on beef which had been grilled on the outside in the cold during the afternoon. The food was in deed great! During the dinner the entertainment started. The contributions from the different teams were of great variation. The Explore team had for example made a great video which had been recorded by their camera on the side of the REXUS9 rocket, while Sponge had arranged a art display where different people characterized known art pieces, Telescobe had written a great song about the failing door of their experiment. During the night Olle also handed out two prices to the teams. The prices were for the friendliest team and for the most technical advanced / scientific experiment and the winners had been decided by voting among all teams. The price for the friendliest team went to Telescobe with their great Irish spirit. When the second price was given Olle said that he had never seen such a clear majority in the voting and asked if the audience could guess who the winner was. I was much surprised by hearing how the whole audience at once shouted SQUID SQUID SQUID SQUID! We could not have been more proud then we were then! The last event of the official part of the night was to hand out diplomas to all participants this was conducted by captain Australia who came flying in to the canteen in is shiny blue suit. What happened after the official part of the night will stay among the teams but I can tell you this, the night was not over by far and I´m quite sure that everyone had quite an hangover the day after, at least so did I.


Leaving Esrange

After two amazing weeks the time have come to leave Esrange. The team is currently in the car and we left Esrange for about two hours ago. Even if this marks the end of the launch campaign this does not mean that the project is finished. We will have plenty of work to do in order to evaluate the results of the project. This will end up in a number of documents. We also hope to be able to go to the 20th ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and Related Research. Which will take place in Hyéres, France, between the 22nd and 26th of may. The final report of the project will be the last version of the SED which will be handed in at the end of June. Under this period we will try our best to keep the blog updated!

The SQUIDMOBILE at the gate of Esrange

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.


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!

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.

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

LAPLander-uppskjutning imorgon! / LAPLander launch tomorrow!

English: We wish the LAPLander team the best of luck on their launch onboard the REXUS 8, scheduled tomorrow! Here are some pictures of the assembled rocket and a video of the REXUS 7 launch yesterday.

Notice: The blogs are being moved to a new platform, starting tomorrow and being finished by the 8th. During the move no further posts will be made. Check back the 8th though for updates on the LAPLander launch!

LAPLander är planerad att skjutas upp imorgon ombord på REXUS 8, och vi i SQUID håller alla tummar vi har! Här nedan är bilder på den ihopmonterade raketen och en video från gårdagens uppskjutning av REXUS 7!

OBS Bloggarna i KTH på Insidan kommer flyttas över till en ny plattform. Detta beräknas vara klart den 8:e, och tills dess kommer det tyvärr inte skrivas några fler inlägg. Så fort vi är tillbaka igen ska vi rapportera om uppskjutningen! Hur gick det? Hittades LAPLander? Funkade videokameran ombord? Kom tillbaka den 8:e för rapport om läget!

Assembled REXUS 8 for LAPLander 1

Assembled REXUS 8 for LAPLander 2

Assembled REXUS 8 for LAPLander 3

LAPLander Team with assembled REXUS 8

LAPLander videobloggar från Esrange

English: The LAPLander team is presently at Esrange space centre preparing their experiment for the flight, which is still a week off. Here are some of their videos from there, the first one in Swedish but the two others are in English. The team finished assembling their experiment yesterday, and this morning they went to find out if the tanks have stayed sealed or if there was an accidental airbag inflation during the night… check out the last video for the answer!

Här kommer lite videohälsningar från LAPLander-teamet, som nu är uppe vid Esrange och förbereder sitt experiment för uppskjutningen om ungefär en vecka. Den sista är från i morse, då de tittar till sitt ihopmonterade experiment. Håller tankarna tätt eller har airbagarna lösts ut under natten? :O