Archive for July, 2013

Gearing Up

Monday, July 8th, 2013

A sure sign of an impending mission, Paul spiffing up the mission control van.


Change and Consistency

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The High Rack is our workhorse test vehicle. Even though it has the held on to the same basic configuration I was stuck this morning looking at Away 25 from 2004 how much has changed. The foam fins have been replaced by nylon ones stretched over a carbon frame, Those three pound each (there’s two!) Hi-8 camcorders are no more, on top the balloon cutaway pyros wrapped in fiberglass insulation have been replace by a neat plastic box with nichrome string cutters, I shudder thinking about that fin mounted parachute with the ground commanded release strap. The parachute auto deploy baskets we use now are bulkier but don’t require any input from anywhere to work. The standard upper deck is no where to be seen on this old guy. From the antennas I can tell this was our old second generation command and control system. We’re on gen five now and on the verge of moving to all satellite/internet command systems. I think there are about 40 other changes since 2004. With all that from 100 feet away after launch it’s still our old reliable cargo hauler to the edge of space. I hope we fly a few hundred more.


Filming the Cloud Chamber

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Saturday we filmed radioactive particles in our cloud chamber. Seeing the subatomic particles streaking across the chamber leaving visible contrails is the easy part. Getting it to show up on video is the hard part. We are conducting a positron survey in the upper atmosphere this fall using this gear but we need to be able to record the results. We’re finally getting good, if blurry, results.
The top frame is raw, the bottom is enhanced.


Magnet Seperator

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Sometimes you build spaceships and sometimes you build tools. We use some really powerful magnets in our projects. One of the many hard part about strong magnets is getting them apart from each other. The solution is a non ferrous hand shear. In other words we needed to make a giant wooden cheese slicer. The first version was made of foam (to make sure we got the size right). Version two was wood. It’s still a little scary to use but it gets the job done.