Launch campaign Stratos II Day 2

Today was again a busy day full of preparation activities before the launch day next week. The day started early in the morning around 7:00 with the mist still not being fully cleared. The crew enjoyed some breakfast accompanied by ‘typical’ Spanish music. The activities planned for this day were the igniter tests of the hybdrid rocket motor and a full test of the flight termination software.

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Flight Termination Software

The Flight Termination Software has been specifically designed to make sure that the flight phase of the rocket can be aborted in case of unexpected failures of the rocket motor or other parts of the rocket. The Flight Termination will be activated if the Flight Termination Control Center does not receive a signal from the rocket for more than 3 seconds or if the Flight termination Control Center send a signal to terminate the flight. Terminating the flight will mean that the hybrid rocket motor valve which feeds the nitrous oxide to the combustion chamber will be closed off, resulting in the rocket motor to stop burning. In order to drain as much energy from the whole rocket as much as possible the parachute deployment mechanism will also be activated after the flight termination is initiated. The activities for today were the test of the Flight Termination System with the launch site antennas. The whole loop of transmitting signals from the Flight Termination Control Center and receiving signals on the rocket has been tested. The actual loss of signal strength due to the flight of the rocket to high altitudes has also been tested by attenuating the received signal using an attenuator.

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Electronics teammembers using the simulation software. On the left you can see the attenuator.

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Electronics attached to the valve system to test if the Flight Termination System can shut down the valve if Termination is initiated

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Flight Termination Sending Antenna

Black Box

Due to the fact that the rocket will experience a very harsh environment and it will land in the sea, it is crucial to protect the SD cards that contain all the flight information. For this reason the SD cards will be placed in a metal casing which is completely sealed off to make sure no water enters the metal casing. This metal casing is called a black box and today this was painted with an orange fluorescent color such that it is visible from a far distance on the helicopter.

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Black Box containing the SD Card

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Black Box being attached to the payload section

Injector preparation

The injector of the hybdrid rocket motor has been assembled and ready to be used on the valve system. The injector is designed such that it injects the nitrous oxide in a swirling way. This will make sure that the nitrous oxide ( or also called the oxidizer) is efficiently spread over the entire grain surface.

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Igniter Tests

The burn inside the rocket motor will only occur if the fuel and the oxidizer are mixed together under high temperatures. These high temperatures in the combustion chamber are initiated using an igniter. It is crucial that this igniter functions properly and reliably. using the components delivered by the launch site Therefore today the igniter was tested by the hybdrid rocket propulsion team.  The tests showed that the igniter is reliable and it is sufficient to start the burn inside the combustion chamber.

Launch Site

Below is an image of the launch site viewed from above

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DARE in Dutch newspapers

Recently there have been some articles abou the the Stratos II project of DARE in a few Dutch newspapers. Check them out in the links below:

Front page of Omroep West: http://www.omroepwest.nl/nieuws/26-09-2014/studenten-delft-schieten-raket-op-zoetjes-en-kaarsvet-de-lucht
Engineeringnet.nl: http://www.engineeringnet.nl/detail_nederland.asp?Id=13140&titel=Studentenraket+klaar+voor+lancering+naar+50+km+hoogte&category=research