Launch T – 2 days (Hold day 1)

The biggest news of today is the change in our launch date. We were planning to have our first launch attempt this Friday but due to external reasons we were forced to move it to Tuesday July 24th at 20:00 CEST.

The Stratos coreteam at a meeting with INTA.
(C) by Jurriaan Brobbel.

The reason for rescheduling is the delayed delivery of the flight termination receiver, which had to be send back to its manufacturer in the United States for modifications and is currently still on its way back to Spain. Even though the receiver is only a small part of the total termination system, it is vital for a safe flight. We already performed tests of other elements of the system so that when the receiver comes in we only have to test this one last element and the system is ready for flight.

Tim – member of the tower team preparing concrete.

The technical work that we did today mainly focused on the thrust deflector system for the rocket. This is a large triangular part made out of concrete and placed underneath the exhaust of the rocket. The deflector ensures the launch pad is not damaged by the flame and intense heat produced by our DHX-400 hybrid engine. Of course, a big engine like the Nimbus requires a big deflector, which is in our case more than 400 kg!

Next to the deflector system construction, extensive practice runs were performed with the rocket carrying rail. This rail is used to put the rocket from the cart into the launch tower. This all has to be done with extreme care, given the 170 kg rocket (empty mass plus fuel mass) only hangs on three small 15 mm diameter lugs. To carry the rocket, initially 10 rail-rangers were selected, which was today increased to 14 to distribute the weight better. Additionally five extra people are present for guiding the rail, giving instructions and support. Clearly, loading the rocket in the tower is quite a comprehensive task.

Tomorrow we will do the final preparations for our next dress rehearsal on Friday. To this end, we will fully assemble the rocket so that we can start practicing the launch first thing on Friday. We will also test the antenna receiving live video footage from the rocket so fingers crossed because this footage will be really epic if it works!

by Fabio Kerstens & Weronika Dziarnowska