woensdag 16 maart 2016

Preliminary Design Review week - Part II

Tuesday 16/02/2016

Lectures start again at 8:20 and take place until 18:00. OSCAR is again present on the second row!

In the morning we got a tour at ESRANGE. We got to visit the control room where the operations manager gives the green light for a launch (rocket or balloon).

We also got to visit the rocket launch tower and the areas where they assemble the rockets. More importantly we visited the balloon launch platform, which was completely covered in snow at the moment.

Nearby the balloon launch platform, there are several buildings. The marked building is the place where the magic will happen in October 2016 and referred to as the DOME! We will be assembling and watching the launch during the campaign week from this building.

During the launch some heavy duty equipment is used to obtain a safe and successful launch. This gigantic beast is called “Hercules”, and keeps the gondola in launching position. It’s a customized tractor and it can be converted to a “standard” bulldozer within 1 day of work.

In one of the halls they displayed a previous balloon experiment. A Japanese company performed tests on supersonic airplanes. They performed a series of very successful experiments at ESRANGE and the plane shown in the picture is one of the first tests they did (which ESRANGE was allowed to keep for demo purposes). As you can see the nose cone is completely destroyed as it was cheeper to make 2 prototypes and let them crash then to develop a recovery system for 1 plane and re-use it! (It only costs a few million dollar, anyway.)

After lunch we had our first meeting with the BEXUS gondola in the DOME. This is the frame where our experiment will be mounted and which is connected to the balloon.

During this session we needed to cut out our experiment in cardboard, figure out if there would be interferences with other experiments in terms of dimensions, and verify the accessibility to plug in cables etcetera. It seems very trivial but the session was extremely useful and immediately showed some interferences with other experiments. However we were able to solve the problems very fast by discussing the options with the other teams. Real international teamwork!

During the last session, all the student teams needed to present their experiments within 5-10 minutes. OSCAR made sure to get people interested in organic electronics and diamond magnetometers!

After dinner, there was a lecture by a guest speaker, Stas Barabash, who is the director of the Swedish institute for Space Physics. He gave a very interesting talk about failures in space missions with the main conclusion being that failure is often the norm. Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. One could say that Murphy’s law is always lurking behind the corner. Therefore it’s extremely important to define requirements and verify all the requirements. Let’s not invite Murphy to the party.

After this session we relaxed a bit and played some pool, table soccer and board games with people from the other teams and went to bed.

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