Launch Campaign

Posted by: Tobias Meinert

From the 9th to the 21st of March we took part in the launch campaign of REXUS 17/18.

After the successful bench test, we were very relaxed and could look forward to the launch of the rocket. There were no stressful last minute adjustments needed, so we could concentrate on our exams and master theses.

On Monday the 9th of March, our whole team started their journey to the north of Sweden. The rocket launch area Esrange, which we knew from last year’s training week, was expecting us. For the next two weeks we had to follow a well-planned program. As such, there was a morning meeting every day at 8:30 am after the breakfast. There was no place for a late riser. ;)

The first week was reserved for the final assembly. During this time possible damage by transport could be fixed or short term adjustments mounted. We used the time to check all our electronic and mechanical connections. On Wednesday afternoon we put the Cellulose Aerogels into our experiment for the first time. After getting a small piece for our camera from DLR, thanks to Dennis again, we finished our experiment with a one day time buffer.

Every year two rockets are launched in the REXUS program and since we were to fly the second rocket, REXUS 18, we had free time on the weekend, because of the test of REXUS 17. Sunday was also in general a free day so that the flight crew could relax before the rocket launch. We used the time for sightseeing. Our team split for a snowmobile tour, skiing and a trip to Norway and the harbor city Narvik and the fjords.

The second week was dominated by the rocket launches. Each rocket has to pass three tests. The first is a test which was equivalent to the bench test. So our ground control station was directly connected to our module. This was followed by the flight simulation. The ground control was set in the control room and the telemetry was tested. Lastly, there was a cold countdown. A cold countdown is similar to a hot countdown except that there is no lift off. With this test, the whole countdown procedure can be checked. If everything works fine, then the hot countdown can start.  For our case there was an exception. Bad weather was announced so our hot countdown was abbreviated.

Our experiment worked fine during the flight and we got all our data. A preliminary analysis shows that we could prove our expectations. Now it’s the time for us to start evaluating our data, which will take some time.

At the end of the launch campaign we observed a sun eclipse in the northern Atlantic. Due to our positioning, we saw a ninety percent solar eclipse.

We want to say thank you to all our organizers for this great week and for the whole REXUS campaign. Also many thanks to all of our sponsors and supporters without whose wholehearted support we could not conceivably have carried through our project on such a scale. At the end, a big thank you to the other teams with whom we had a lot of fun in the last year and we hope that we may see each other again!

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