First Launch Attempt

Carolyn and I have fallen a bit behind with the blog lately, mostly due to a lot of work and stress leading up to our compatibility test and hang test. These tests are to verify all the communications are functioning and make sure that our instrument is works as expected when put together with everything that CSBF adds. We passed those tests last Friday and Saturday, and are now ready to launch!

Over the weekend, we had heard that there would be bad weather until late this week, so we thought we had a few days to really calibrate before we would be asked to show. This morning at around 10am, we found out that tomorrow is a possible launch day in terms of weather, and CSBF told us we would be showing for a launch attempt. We’ll be rolling out at 3:30 AM on Tuesday, Dec 9 (McMurdo time, which is also New Zealand time).

Since this morning, we have been finishing up everything that absolutely has to happen before launch. Because we are rolling out so early, we’ll be starting to check that everything is completely ready to go at around 1am. We decided to just stay at LDB all night to make sure we finish everything.

We hooked up the pump for the cryostat's final pump down. Hooking it up when it's on the gondola is quite a challenge!

We hooked up the pump for the cryostat’s final pump down. Hooking it up when it’s on the gondola is quite a challenge!

Carolyn climbed up on the gondola for (possibly) the last time to permanently stick our temperature sensors in place with thermal epoxy.

Carolyn climbed up on the gondola for (possibly) the last time to permanently stick our temperature sensors in place with thermal epoxy.

McBride napping to prepare for the long night and day ahead. He made himself a bed out of foam and a pillow out of bubble wrap. Brent was using the cot, so McBride had to get creative!

McBride napping to prepare for the long night and day ahead. He made himself a bed out of foam and a pillow out of bubble wrap. Brent was using the cot, so McBride had to get creative!

Now that I’ve summarized the afternoon, I’ll be trying to update the rest of this launch attempt in real time (NASA will also be doing updates  here: http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm)

9:30 PM: Carolyn found the rest of the chocolate that Steve left for us. Brent started the awesome COSI playlist he made to get us all super excited about COSI and launch!

It was really exciting to realize how much chocolate Steve left us.

It was really exciting to realize how much chocolate Steve left us.

12:00AM: (written by Carolyn)
I stole Clio’s camera (She’s taking short nap on the cot. If you’ve seen Clio without much sleep then you’ll understand why we approve so highly of this.) because the view outside was breathtaking, as usual. What a nice day to try and launch!

Looking towards the north at Black Island.

Looking towards the north at Black Island.

A view of the long drop and the launch pad. We should be out there in about 6 hours!

A view of the long drop and the launch pad. We should be out there in about 6 hours!

You can see how excited I am. Most of it is nerves and the rest is the lack of sleep.

You can see how excited I am. Most of it is nerves and the rest is the lack of sleep.

1:00 AM: (written by Clio)

1:00 AM means it’s time to start the going through the roll out checklist! The checklist is basically a list of things to do before rolling out to the flight line. We need to make sure that all systems are working properly, so we’ll do things like confirm everything is screwed in right, triple check for grounding issues, and check that everything can be turned on and off without problems.

Even though we aren’t rolling out until 3:30, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to go through the checklist, as we’ve never gone through it as thoroughly as we want to for launch.

Before starting the checklist, Carolyn had to perform a crucial task: putting teflon tape lightning bolt shaped speed strips on the gondola. According to Steve Boggs, these are absolutely necessary for thermal reasons.

Before starting the checklist, Carolyn had to perform a crucial task: putting teflon tape lightning bolt shaped speed strips on the gondola. According to Steve Boggs, these are absolutely necessary for thermal reasons.

The checklist is very official. It has its own clipboard.

The checklist is very official. It goes on a clipboard.

Carolyn and McBride checking PDU and flight computer connections, as well as grounding issues.

Carolyn and McBride checking PDU and flight computer connections, as well as grounding issues.

2:30 AM:

The CSBF guys showed up and brought us pizza! We got an update from the weather guy: the weather doesn’t look promising, but for now we’re going to proceed anyway. It’s hard to forecast here, so I guess you never know.

Thanks for the good luck wishes, CSBF!

Thanks for the good luck wishes, CSBF!

Brent, Alan, Alex and McBride enjoying a quick pizza break

Brent, Alan, Alex and McBride enjoying a quick pizza break

McBride lays down his foam and bubble wrap bed for another nap, even though no one's using the cot. Why? Because cots are for wimps! Alex is amused.

McBride lays down his foam and bubble wrap bed for another nap, even though no one’s using the cot. Why? Because cots are for wimps! Alex is amused.

4:15 AM: We’re officially buttoned up to roll out. We put on the side panels and Carolyn taped the rest of the temperature sensors in place.

Carolyn attaching temperature sensors across the gondola from me

Carolyn attaching temperature sensors across the gondola

Chris, our payload engineer, getting his stuff all ready to go with help from Bobby and Mike (all from CSBF)

Chris, our payload engineer, getting his stuff all ready to go with help from Bobby and Mike (all from CSBF)

The last side panel is on! We are all buttoned up and ready to go!

The last side panel is on! We are all buttoned up and ready to go!

4:40 AM: We’ve rolled out and are checking to make sure all our systems are running normally. We had some issues with noise last week, so we are making sure they aren’t coming back. So far, it looks good!

The riggers rolling the gondola outside

The riggers rolling the gondola outside

The launch vehicle, called the Boss, getting ready to come pick us up

The launch vehicle, called the Boss, getting ready to come pick us up

Everyone watching the GSE: the software that tells us how the instrument is doing

Everyone watching the GSE: the software that tells us how the instrument is doing

5:40 AM: The Boss lifted up our gondola, and our gondola is going to be hanging there for the next 20ish minutes while we check some more things. We need to make sure that we’re still receiving data and can still send commands, in addition to anything else on the checklist that I’ve forgotten about (that’s why the checklist exists!). Chris has to check out some of his stuff as well. Once we confirm everything is ok, we’ll start heading over to the launch pad.

There’s still no weather data, because the weather stations around here are down. If we don’t ever get any data, then they will have to cancel the launch. We weren’t expecting to launch until 10am, though, so there’s still a chance.

I’m starting to feel pretty wiped out, as is everyone else. I feel like I’m having a lot of trouble forming coherent sentences (so hopefully this section of the blog makes sense…). Hopefully I’ll have the energy to keep posting! Maybe after a nap….

The riggers attaching the gondola to the launch vehicle

The riggers attaching the gondola to the Boss

The gondola all hooked up

Chris in front of the gondola, which has been all hooked up

The Boss is turning around so that the gondola is facing away from the weather port for Chris's tests

The Boss is turning around so that the gondola is facing away from the weather port for Chris’s tests

7:30 AM: During my nap over the past hour, the launch got called off due to weather. There might be another launch opportunity on Thursday, so we’ll see how that goes!

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3 Responses to First Launch Attempt

  1. antideuteron says:

    Could luck for the next attempt!

  2. Michelle G says:

    You guys are awesome! Best of luck for the next one. 🙂

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