How to rehearse a rocket launch

On the 26th of May 2018, the second dress rehearsal of Stratos III took place. Dress rehearsals are intended to simulate the actual launch of the rocket as closely as possible without actually launching anything. To this end, the rocket was assembled and placed on the launch tower for the first time and the team practised all the procedures.

The day started with the team going over the launch procedures and familiarising themselves with the set-up. After the briefing in the morning, the launch tower was assembled as it would be done during the launch campaign. A mock countdown to launch was performed, so people could prepare and to find any potential problems with the launch procedures.

The flight electronics were tested and all the interfaces between the rocket and the ground systems were checked. There is umbilical cable that is connected to the rocket until launch that allows the team to monitor and control the electrical systems. It is of critical importance that this connection works during the launch so it must be rigorously tested.

The launch software must also be set up so that everyone can find the information they need in an efficient manner. This is critical because during the launch, quick decisions have to be made and it is important that everybody is fully aware of everything that is happening at that moment.

Furthermore, the team also practiced communication. During the launch, it is important that everybody knows what is going on and that there are no miscommunications between stations.  During the mock launch, the various stations were placed in different rooms to simulate the launch site. The stations had to communicate by radio in a realistic manner as they would do during the actual launch. Efficient communication is of high importance for a smooth launch campaign, so it must be practiced.

The final dress rehearsal will be conducted this weekend and after this the team will be fully prepared for the big launch on the 16th of July!