USLI -- Travel Update: Awesome Tours, Awesome Rocket Fair, Launch Delayed

I was originally planning to post an update every day, but right now is honestly the first time I've had a moment of rest since the outset of the journey.

We were supposed to be launching today. In fact, we were planning to have our rocket on the rack fifteen minutes ago, but the launch was canceled today. The weather is pretty nice, but there is a low cloud ceiling (~900 ft), so we can't launch because of the FAA regulations. The launch was pushed back to Sunday, which unfortunately means that we will be rushed to get our rocket in the air, and then we will have to leave early to go back to Iowa and miss most of the launches.

The good news is that the rest of the activities have been VERY interesting and exciting. I don't have time to dig through all my pictures yet, but I took quite a few good ones.

Yesterday (Friday) was the rocket fair. The rocket fair is the second most fun part of the trip. I didn't even get to see all of the teams' displays, but I saw most of them. We took shifts manning our own display so that everyone could have an opportunity to walk around and check out the other projects. I cannot believe how awesome some of the projects. We had a pretty awesome project ourselves. I heard lots of people talking about that "Quad-rotor" project when I was walking around; gave me a good feeling. The rocket fair was also a great opportunity to network with people: other students, NAR people, NASA engineers (who came to the rocket fair on their lunch break), and a host of other rocketry big-wigs. We made some great friends and connections.

The day before that (Thursday) we went on some tours of facilities at the Marshall Space Flight Center. This year's tours were even more exciting than last year! We got to see the Advanced Manufacturing facility, the Propulsions Lab (AWESOME!!!), and a few giant thrust stands that we got to climb around on (perhaps we were not supposed to). I will post some great pictures after the trip. That evening we had our rocket inspections, which we passed with only three minor items on our fix-it list (less than last year!) They were little things like "install batteries and use zip-ties," "Mark CP on outside of rocket," and "replace this shock cord, it looks a little crusty."

So on the plus-side of this postponed launch, we have all day today to work on the payload and get it to work better. Looking forward to an awesome launch on Sunday!

Also, you can watch the event live on the internet! The launch will start around 7:30 am with the first rocket flights at 8:00 or 8:30.



USLI -- Departure!

After some long hours of preparation, we are finally embarking on the Great Trip To Huntsville. Looks to be an awesome adventure! Look for a post every day about our progress.


USLI -- Test Launch 2.0

Yesterday three of us on the CySLI team drove up to the Tripoli MN research launch to conduct a second test launch of our rocket.

In brief, mission success.

We had ordered another L1115 which was supposed to be here last Thursday, but it never came. We ended up launching on a smaller motor (K1440), because the entire country seems to be out of L1115's. This was okay, because the entire point of this test launch was to determine if our shear pins worked effectively. The conditions of apogee are very much the same between 2000 feet and 5000 feet, so this launch was a reliable demonstration. We haven't sent in our FRR addendum yet, but if NASA takes issue with this, I take issue with NASA.

Now we have two days to get the payload fully functioning and get everything ready for the trip to Huntsville!

Really, YouTube?

Unfortunately, the onboard GoPro camera stopped recording after half an hour, and missed the launch.

Prepping the rocket.

On the pad before launch.

Payload recovered successfully.


USLI -- Overdue Update (2/2)

Did ejection charge firing with shear pins this afternoon:

As you can see, all went well.

We are driving all the way up to Minnesota tomorrow (Saturday) to mount a second test flight. Fingers crossed, hope all goes well. We're planning on taking some more onboard video as well, so stay tuned for that.

USLI -- A Way Overdue Update (1/2)

I'm moments away from giving a short demonstration of our USLI project to a bunch of industry bigwigs. This is a 100% impromptu encounter. Had I known I'd be doing this today, I'd have taken a shower and dressed up. Yikes. This is kind of the story of my life right now. But, as usual, hilariously epic.

I will continue this post this evening.


USLI -- Interesting Developments

I just want to say, the higher the barrier, the epic-er the win. Or at least, the stronger you get.

Based on the early deployment of our payload, we are being required by NASA to conduct another test launch. No big deal.

Anyway, I am going to have no life outside of USLI and the occasional studying for the next... for a while.