Today we assembled the flight separation system and the recovery system. This means two key systems have been delivered for flight and our team is that much closer to being ready for the launch.
The separation system is a relatively small part of the rocket however, throughout the year it turned to be a significant headache. The separation system is the mechanism that at the highest point of flight separates the tank from the nosecone and recovery bay which we want to retrieve. It must be very reliable and light, yet allow considerable loads to be transferred between the nosecone and tank/ propulsion system. In the Ariane rockets this is done occasionally with a clamp band system which was also used for Stratos II. However, where Stratos II needed days to assemble the separation system, the Stratos III system is an order of magnitude more advanced. We have had a lot of support from Airbus. We have presented a design to Airbus and they have made sure that the necessary changes were implemented, for which we are eternally grateful. The iterated design of the system is redundant and fail-safe, which is critical in a safe and secure retrieval of the nosecone. This also makes sure that the payload of NLR for example can be recovered. A few weeks ago the nose section was successfully vibration tested and approved for flight.
After separation of the nosecone, the capsule is slowed down by a series of two parachutes, which allow the capsule to land with a gentle speed of only 13 m/s in the Atlantic Ocean. After this, the capsule with payload is recovered with the crew in a fishing boat, which make the greatest catch of their life.
For Sunday a spectacular dress rehearsal is planned in which the crew will test all procedures to let the launch be as smooth as possible. Stay tuned to not miss a thing.
by Fabio Kerstens & Adriaan Smit & Martin Olde