Today is the day, hot countdown begins at 06:45 am LT. The weather is good, temperature is pretty low and everybody is excited about the upcoming launch. The experiment behaviour is nominal and the late acces procedure is completed a little bit ahead of schedule. Shortly after that, at T-0:50:00, we have a countdown hold as MORABA is covering the rocket motor and TESOS to keep them warm. Against our expectations, the ice temperature rises to -5,5°C. Our team at the ground station discusses what to do, and they decide to keep going as a second late access procedure wouldn’t be possible with a launch at the same day. Finally, the ice has a temperature of -4,5°C at liftoff, which is within our limits.
We enjoy the beautiful view as the rocket rises into the blue sky, but we lose visual contact as the motor burns out. Back in the Pool Room, we‘re all happy that we had a successful launch, especially as we had to wait one year until we got the chance again to launch our experiment.
Later we get the phone call that we can extract our ISCA from the recovered payload. Our late access team was among the first people to see the payload after flight. Unfortunately, the landing was harder than expected and our structure suffered severe damage. We do have all the sensor data that has been transmitted to our groundstation. Now the investigation starts to find out what has happened during the descent phase
Today it became serious, we had the Test Countdown. The weather was perfect, and the temperature dropped down to -32°C. Everything went fine, but our late access team seriously struggled with cold fingers, it was quite challenging to secure the plugs from the ISCA with the small screws. We also went up to the Radar Hill and enjoyed a great view down to the launcher.
We decided to reduce the amount of dry ice in the ISCA due to the cold weather. During our hot Bench Test, the ice temperature was too low. That would require a hold in the countdown to wait until the ice reaches a temperature of -15°C.
Afterwards, we set up a post flight procedure for the hot countdown tomorrow to make sure that we don’t miss anything.
We successfully passed the Flight Sim Test today. Afterwards, we had some free time which we spent in Kiruna, while half of the team stayed at Esrange Space Center to prepare the ice samples for flight and to extract the mass dummy we used for the Spin and Balance test. In Kiruna, we visited the ice hotel and the church, which is one of Swedens biggest wooden buildings.
In the morning, we inserted our mass dummy in the module for the Spin and Balance Test. Afterwards, the payload was fully assembled and turned into an upright position. In front of the rocket, we took a couple of team pictures. The payload was then transferred to the Dome for Spin and Balance Test, which was completed successfully. As this test was performed by MORABA, we had some free time to enjoy the gym and sauna at our hotel.
During breakfast, we could see a fox walking around the parking lot in front of the window! Unfortunately there is no video…
We had two hot Benchtests planned for today. During the preparation for the first hot test, we had an electric failure that caused a delay of about four hours. Our electronic team fixed the problem and we successfully passed the Benchtest. This test also was the chance for team ARES, which is located right below us on the rocket, to have a view on our module and check if some water can get outside of our experiment. They were okay with the result. At the end, we moved to the Dome to prepare our experiment for flight, because the rocket motor was prepared at the church.
The schedule for today included the first COM Check of this campaign. After the final preparation of our experiment, we successfully passed the Check. DAEDALUS had a hot test including the ejection of their space seeds, which can be seen in slowmotion in the video!
After our first morning meeting and a safety briefing we went down to the church to see our experiments which have been in storage configuration for almost one year. All the teams disassembled them to check their batteries and other subsystems. We also exchanged our HPPM assembly which we already built at home. Our electronics were checked, a new battery pack was built in and the whole experiment was prepared for the Comm-Check tomorrow.
Today is our travel day. Eight team members are going to Kiruna, 4 of us catched a flight booked by DLR, the other 4 booked a flight by themselves. The first group of us left at 8 am heading for Düsseldorf Airport. We had a stopover at Stockholm Arlanda, which we reached on time. Our second flight to Kiruna was delayed by about 15 minutes. The others catched an ICE from Cologne to Frankfurt Airport. They had two stopovers, the first one in Stockholm, the second in Umeå. Their last flight was delayed by about 30 minutes. Arriving in Kiruna, we were surprised that we had a temperature of about 0°C and just a little bit of snow. We managed to squeeze our luggage into our rental car and drove to Esrange Space Center. We were carrying 4 boxes with equipment with us. Most of the team members of REXUS 23 arrived late in the evening, so the restaurant was closed. Due to that, we drove back to Kiruna and had a nice dinner at a Thai restaurent with one team member of DAEDALUS.
Viper is back on board – after months of uncertainty we are proud to announce that there will be a second attempt for team Viper on this year’s campaign. In a few months eight team members will be on their way to the Esrange Space Center in Sweden with a huge anticipation to monitor our project during the last steps. But there is still a lot to do so the next weeks will be very busy.