Day by day, the launch day for the Small Rocket Project (SRP) is getting closer. Now that the launch day is less than 2 weeks away, the final tests are done in order to make sure that everything is in order for the launch on the 20th of May. On the 22nd of April, the main engine for the SRP rockets has been tested, as well as the second stage of team Ground Control. In this blog post, you can find some of the details from the tests.
Before you can test your configuration, you have to test your components. In order to test the Ground Control engine, the SRP electronic boards had to be tested. However, after switching on the board, smoke started coming off several components. This was very frightening since this board is used by all teams for their ignition and recovery system! This meant that the board needed to be fixed fast. Fortunately, after a long night of working, it was found out that a transistor and resistor on the board were not meant to be used in combination with the 9-volt battery, and the board was fixed after which everything worked again.
Next day (22nd of April), after the test setup was assembled, the teams went out to the field to set everything up. All was ready and the SRP engine could be tested. At least, that was the plan until it was found out that one of the detonator keys was missing. Without both keys, no engine could be tested. After some members went on an extensive, but successful, search for the key, everything was ready for the launch.
First of all, the first SRP main engine. The SRP main engine has had a design revision. Where previously concrete was used, aluminium is now used for the casing and nozzle. This means that the engine is not only slightly lighter, but also reusable! Same fuel, namely the well-known rocket candy, is used. This change in design did however not stop the engine from firing. In fact, the engine kept quite a punch for its size. Everything went exactly according to plan and after a while, the second engine was ready to be tested.
Next, the second SRP main engine. After the countdown, this engine fired with a loud bang. According to several DARE members, the new engine seemed to pack quite some more “umpf ™ “, which is of course very promising for an exciting launch day! Again, everything went according to plan. So far, so good!
Last of all, our second stage was tested. Since this is a commercial D12 engine, we did not really expect that much from the engine itself. This test was most of all to check if the stages would separate and what the impact on the parachute would be. However, the engine took us by surprise by easily shooting away the first stage and melting both the parachute of the top and bottom stage. This was not according to the expectations, which is of course exactly why you should always test your configuration.
All in all, this was a very successful test day. Everything fired exactly as it should, and even though the key was missing, we were done nicely on time. The main engine worked even better than expected, and my team now knows exactly what to do to keep the egg alive.