VIPER REXUS

This was our first Team Meeting after the REXUS/BEXUS Training Week. First of all, we need to change the bulkhead. We planned to use the standard bulkhead, but with that there is not much space left at the top of our module. Because of that, we now want to use a bottom mounted bulkhead. We also want to change the design of the Cupola. In the middle, there will be placed the camera, so the engine has to move to the side of the Cupola. We also need a reliable mechanism to lock the heatprobes in the HPPM during the radio silence and during takeoff. This is not too easy as we don’t have much space inside the Cupola. Another aspect we have to focus on is a potential condensation of water of the surrounding air when inserting the ISCA into the module. During the radio silence we can’t heat the outer structure of the ISCA. Our thermal team will check this. We are also about to order some shirts with our logo 😉

REXUS/BEXUS Training Week

The Training Week at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen had a tough schedule: 17 Teams, 9 countries, 22 lectures, 17 Reviews, 4 excursions. A week full of great impressions and useful information, that took place from 20th to 24th of February.

The lectures covered all aspects which are necessary to design and build a module for REXUS, from Thermal Design to Electronics, including Project Management and Outreach. Very important and amusing were the short Bavarian lectures that were held every morning. They included a couple of useful sentences everybody needs to know, for example:

Ozapft is                                             The REXUS/BEXUS training week begins.

Mächtig Hoiz voa da Hüttn’             BEXUS balloons are really big.

Parallel to the lectures, there were also the reviews for all teams. Our review was pretty much as we expected, and with the feedback of the engineers we can now finalize our design for the CDR in June.

During the events, we had a lot of discussions with the other teams regarding their projects as well as the Bavarian food. We also had some very interesting tours at DLR and IABG. At DLR, we visited the center for robotics and we had a tour through GSOC and the flight control center of the European COLUMBUS module with a former flight director. Furthermore, we visited the test center for space and aeronautical technology of IABG, which was very impressive.

The Training Week was the first and only time that all teams participating at cycle 10 of the REXUS/BEXUS programme came together. In the future, there will be trainings and reviews specifically for REXUS or BEXUS. We want to give you an overview about the nationality of the teams:

  • Spain                  1 team
  • Italy                     1 team
  • Sweden              1 team
  • Germany            6 teams
  • UK                       2 teams
  • Switzerland       1 team
  • Austria               1 team
  • France                1 team
  • Portugal             1 team

We just had our internal Preliminary Design Review. We invited students and professors from FH Aachen and RWTH Aachen to enjoy the presentation we prepared for the Training Week in Oberpfaffenhofen next week. We discussed the content of the presentation as well as its layout. We also prepared a couple of slides for questions of the engineers in Oberpfaffenhofen that might occur. It took us almost two hours until we were done, only to review a twenty minutes presentation 😀 So as you can see, we were quite detailed.

Today, we had our first team meeting this year. We were reviewing everything that was done during the free time since christmas and discussed what has to be done for the PDR. Expecially the Structure team has a lot to do. The design needs to be finalized. We focused on the design of the Heat Probe Pushing Mechanism (HPPM). At the moment, we want to have a spring to push the heatprobe, guided by a cylindrical shielding, including a force sensor. So far, we don’t have space for a camera, but we will also find a solution for that. The Electronics team is proceeding and is about to build and test a first version of a board for the temperature sensors. Apart from that, we have to get started with the documentation for the SED.

Finally we recieved the message that we have our flight ticket for the rocket! So come and see us at the bar tonight 😉

But of course, now it’s all getting serious. There is not much time left until the Preliminary Design Review in February, so a whole bunch of work is waiting for us. We have to make lots of decisions about our design, structure, electronics, sensors…

Wow, that was the selection workshop in Bonn. We met a couple of the other REXUS and BEXUS teams from germany and enjoyed their presentations. Some of them have really fancy ideas. Today, it was our turn. It went quite well, and we didn’t get any critical questions. The engineers would like us not to use so many LiPo batteries (so far we planned to use 1kg of them). They assured that we can get ground power until the rocket lifts off. Because of that, we can cancel the rechargeable LiPo batteries and use a smaller amount of unrechargeable Nimh batteries. Of course, we now have to design a connector for ground power supply that automatically disconnects when the rocket lifts off. Nevertheless, we went home with another very nice experience, some new friends and of course a delay of the train.

Four of us at the Selection Workshop in Bonn

All the teams at the Selection Workshop

We’ve discussed the technical details of our experiment and came to a conclusion that we want to present at the selection workshop in Bonn. So far, we don’t have any final decisions. We are planning to have three containers for the ice, as you can see in the picture. These will be pressed against a sealed lid to prevent the fluid from flooding the rocket. At the moment we’re thinking about how to cool the ice containers, maybe with peltier elements or with dry ice?

Dear future scientist, follower, fan or random visitor,

our team came together due to a phone call that reached our professor not too long ago. He instantly informed us during our spaceflight class about the opportunity to take part in the REXUS programme. Three hours later, we founded our team and divided us into 5 sections:

  • Structure
  • Thermal
  • Science
  • Programming and Electronics
  • PR/Outreach

Work started shortly after, and we also found some more team members. A huge amount of work is about to come, because there are only 3 weeks left until the selection workshop of DLR starts. There we have to present our experiment to a couple of engineers of ZARM, DLR, SSC and MORABA. These engineers will select the teams that are going to fly with the REXUS rocket…

Did you ever look up into the nightsky, watching the stars and thinking about life on other planets or solar systems? What could it look like? How could we communicate?

These are some of the questions astronoms are trying to answer for hundreds of years. Until now, they weren’t successful…

But there are chances to find marks of extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, mostly consists out of ice. Under its icy surface, scientists presume an ocean. In there, we probably can find evidence for life.

But how can we reach this ocean? Obviously, it’s no problem to reach Enceladus, as a couple of missions proof. Cassini for example flew to saturn and separated Huygens, which landed on Titan on 14.01.2005. But when we are there, how can we get through the ice?

Of course, we need to melt our way through it. So far, there haven’t been any experiments dealing with melting through ice in vacuum and under microgravity conditions. As FH Aachen already has a working icemole (a robot that can melt through the ice), we want to add some space related knowledge that could lead into a future mission to the ocean of Enceladus. One of these projects, DiMIce, is currently dealing with the situation on Enceladus. Please find more information about that here.

Cassini, Saturn and Enceladus | Quelle: Flickr, Kevin Gill

Enceladus | Quelle: Flickr, Stuart Rankin