MICA rocket launch, part 2…

Things at the Rocket Assembly Building at Poker Flat Research Range have been quite slow for me. It’s been an awful lot of sitting around and waiting with nothing to do. I did get to tour the Telemetry (or TM, that’s the fancy name for the rocket’s communications and data transfer) and science buildings. The Principal Investigator (the guy in charge) even took me and another grad student sledding. That was fun. The view back into the valley that the range sits in is beautiful.

Last night there was a bit of a setback when the range (and a fair bit of the city of Fairbanks) lost power. The newspaper this morning attributed the outage to a failed insulator and luckily everything is back up and running now with very minor impact on the mission.

The good folks from Wallops Flight Facility have been working very hard at getting all of the pieces of the payload together. The rocket is a two-stage TERRIER-BLACK BRANT MK1 (Mark 1). That means it’s has two motors, a TERRIER and a BLACK BRANT IX. The rocket’s payload looks something like this:

Here’s the layout for the MICA sounding rocket, a Black Brant IX rocket. “Exp” means “experiment”, “NMACS” is the automated control system that controls the rocket, telemetry is the rocket’s communication or data relay systems, the “BB Ign” is the BLACK BRANT ignition. To the right in the layout (or below all of the payload) would be the two rocket motors.

All of the science experiments sit in the Aft Exp area, that’s the main payload, or in the sub-payload section. There are two ERPA instruments that I built (explained in a previous post) on a boom on the main payload and one mounted to the front deck of the sub-payload. Once the both stages (both motors) have fired, the nosecone will detach from the payload and then the main and sub-payloads will separate and the instruments will turn on. This involves booms being extended too. The payload’s full instrument suite looks like this:

Here’s a full diagram of MICA’s science instruments. The ERPAs which I built are located in a pair on a boom on the main payload (depicted here on the right side) and at the front (top) of the sub-payload.

Below are some pictures from around the range and the ERPAs on the main payload.

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One Response to MICA rocket launch, part 2…

  1. Awesome pictures Ian. Looks beautiful out there!

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