We got off to an early start with students, teachers, parents, the Alan’s – Alan Hale and Allan Lockheed, who came again to witness our journey back to space. Lights in the parking lot, like in the movie Field of Dreams. Lights as far as I can see, cars, busses, filled with students, parents, friends, volunteers, and spectators. You’d think this is routine after seven student launches. But it isn’t. Did you get the wireless weather warning about sever wind storms? I did. We cannot launch in high winds. All the work, hours of phone calls, the mounds of paperwork getting the experiments certified for flight. We can’t stop now, this is our pay day. We believe extraordinary things must be part of our lives, the lives of the young and the old, the sick and the well, the happy and the sad. How lucky we are to live in this place during this time.
When we got to the vertical launch area at Spaceport America, dawn was breaking. The other Dawn, Mrs. Starostaka, founder of Helping Hands, who has done four of our events, had everything set up. The tent, the caterer, Marci Dickerson had hot coffee and burritos ready for the travelers. This is not an easy thing to pull off, hot breakfast in the middle of no place for two hundred and fifty people. We have skills that cannot be underestimated. When the time comes, we want to be ready to host this new industry in New Mexico True fashion.
The 20 foot tall missile was scheduled to rocket 73 miles to space at 7am. Colonel Webb from Holloman Air Force base was on site to talk to the students about the space business and a career in the military as one way to learn about space. School District personnel from Assistant Superintendent Steve Sanchez, to Superintendent Craig Crammer from Tor C helped parents and student see their commitment to hands on science and engineering.
We also had the Mesilla Valley Aerostat Ascension Association (GMVAAA). The Mesilla Valley Model Airplane Club (FVMAC) President Mr. Jim Caldwell and Secretary, Mr. Joseph Millette displayed three radio controlled model aircraft. These are remote controlled aircraft. And it takes great skill to operate these vehicles. These model aircraft are not much different from today’s drones, their professional counterparts.
The experiments that were scheduled to fly on the rocket were started put into the rocket two days before the launch. Student experiments from Camino Real Middle School and La Academia de Dolores Huerta measured spaceflight effects on algae. They hope to see the viability of the algae after flight through cell counts of flight and control algae that stayed on the ground. If a cell count decreases by 5% it means there are 5% less cells per ml and would indicate a change in the algae from the flight.
Hot Springs High School students will analyze data collected to determine flight conditions of the rocket including: acceleration of the rocket using 3 axis accelerometers for directions x, y, and z, change in air pressure, radiation and temperature inside the rocket during flight. All electronic data will be stored on a memory chip. Students will use a program to analyze their results and present those results to the school board this Fall. Cobre high school used a flexible container made of Nomex and Gore-Tex to contain water. Video cameras filmed the bags so we can see if a bag fails, at what point in the flight it occurred, by measuring the time against the altitude of the rocket.
The NMSU power and data collection experiment was built to use a central data and power bus. Most experiments that flew use batteries to power the computer chips to collect and store data and to power cameras. Students from the NMSU Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s senior Capstone course designed and constructed a Power Data Bus module for their customer, New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. We asked for a protected power source and a central data gathering point for up to four student payloads. The EE students delivered the completed circuitry and documentation. They conducted a vibration test at Kirtland Air Force Base to assure reliable operation under rocket launch conditions. We will report back on all the results as soon as they are available. NASA Flight Opportunities and Spaceport America are our essential partners as we move forward in this work. Congratulations to all for another success.