Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 1: Arrival at Esrange

---Post Updated with Pictures!---


I finally arrived at Esrange this afternoon. The weather here is quite nice, with temperatures hovering around freezing and occasional light snow.

Flying over north Sweden.

Dusk at Esrange.

The flights went well, and while waiting for the flight to Kiruna at Stockholm, I ran into a familiar face of a team member from the UniBW, where I interned the past summer. There were also a few people on the flight from the MORABA (German: "Mobile Rocket Base") team from the German Aerospace Center who are providing the launch.

MORABA Engineers working the telemetry systems.

Disembarking at Kiruna.

The flight to Kiruna is basically only used by people bound to the Esrange facility or for local miners. Once we landed, it was obvious as to why that is. After disembarking on a tiny, snowy airfield, we were surrounded by nothing but boreal forrest and a few lakes. Don't get me wrong, the landscape is absolutely beautiful, but there isn't much around save for the few satellite dishes from Esrange and the naerby ESA satellite tracking station which could be seen from the airplane.

The ESA Satellite Tracking Sation seen on approach.

Arriving at the Esrange Gates.

After an approximately 20-minute drive we reached the Esrange gates. We got our security passes (during launch capaigns, everyone needs to be accounted for and sign into designated areas for range safety) and drove to the processing building where we met up with most of our team (except for Dany and Kevin, who were in the control room). We ran some basic tests on MIRIAM and chatted with people from the MORABA team and some of the other small experiments bound to launch on the REXUS 4 rocket. I also checked into my room at the on-site "Aurora" Hotel and toured the rest of the facilities. Although most of the team has been here for a few days, MIRIAM didn't arrive until yesterday due to some shipping delays. However, the system arrived in-tact and ready-to-go. Much testing and some reprogramming of the mission timers remains to be done, however, due to a small change in the trajectory. Because of this and weather considerations, we'll probably be expecting a launch on wednesday rather than tuesday.

MIRIAM is being prepared for her big day.

The assembly area was quite busy.

Later today, some of us drove to Kiruna, a good 30 minutes away, for dinner. I tried some reindeer meat and it was quite tasty. We'll be doing more testing tomorrow and go on a shopping trip for basic necessities. I think that'll be all for today, as it's getting late and I need to sleep out the jetlag and rest my back from far to many hours on planes.



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