Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 7: Last Day at Esrange


I am posting yesterday's and today's posts back-to-back, so you may now read the happenings of the launch day below. Today, the day after the launch, moods have improved quite a bit, given that we are getting more and more useful data and can reconstruct more of the mission sequence. Despite the ambiguity and potential damage caused by the collision, most of our systems behaved nominally. Today was a welcome contrast to the stress leading up to the launch, while discussion of our results continued spontaneously throughout the day. A few of us hiked down to the river straddling Esrange. Later at night, a dinner party was held with all the teams, followed by more review of our videos. Let me just say that the people from the Swedish Space Corporation have been extremely hospitable to us and made the stay here a pleasure for all (and always with a great sense of humor).

I will leave Esrange tomorrow morning to return to the U.S. Some of the team will stay behind for a few more days to further evaluate the data. We have learned an incredible amount as a team and individually, from flight operations, team work, procedures, engineering, testing and much more abstract things which can't be summed up in text. The data we gathered will no doubt benefit our knowledge and understanding of such a complex system and guide us to and during future projects. Experimentation and experience go hand-in-hand. We also just had plain fun doing this, and I will certainly miss Esrange and everyone on the team. Of course, the project is far from dead, and therefore most of us are nearly guaranteed to stay in contact and probably cross paths again. I will continue this blog as more information about the flight becomes available. For now, enjoy the pictures of my last day at Esrange below.

River just beyond the Esrange fence.

Spent rocket stages are turned into a modern art-like mess of twisted metal.

Striking the "Dr. Strangelove" pose on a spent Nike booster. These are derived from now obsolete anti-aircraft missiles, some of which did indeed carry nuclear warheads during the Cold War.

The "Highway to the Danger Zone"

Good Bye, Esrange

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