Friday, October 8, 2010


Integration is moving along. Slowly, but moving. According to some, this is them going top speed, so I can't complain. But there is definitely a lot of "hurry up and wait" syndrome going around. Been getting here by 7:30-8 am and leaving around 8 pm. Not too bad since a couple people have done 6am-10pm days last week!

Payload without the nose cone (you can see it sitting in the background)

Frozen condensation outside the liquid nitrogen hose

Yesterday we made it through pre-vibe sequence tests. That means we did a few mock launch sequences (before vibration tests) where we mimic the countdown, turn all systems on in sequence, turn on high-voltages in sequence and even blow a little ACS gas (attitude control system). One test, the all-fire test, was just like the launch will go: everything turning on at the right times. The other two tests were the no-fire tests or the power backups tests, where they didn't turn all systems on. This was to check for redundancies in the power systems.

Mock launch sequence

The actual 800 some seconds when we are doing the sequence is pretty exciting. I have to run back and forth between a couple of screens and strip charts to check on the health of my instruments throughout the sequence. And there are a few events that I have to keep an eye on, such as when we turn on the despin motor for our imager or when we turn on the high voltage to a few of our other instruments. There are several other experiment teams running back and forth watching at the same time, so it gets a bit hectic. In the picture above, Jim Diehl (our Telemetry Engineer) is calling the events and watching the overall progress of the count. He's the one in the foreground with the phone. Everything went pretty swimmingly so we are moving on today to the vibration testing. And then comes the post-vibe sequencing. Fun stuff!

This is Phil's "I'm a real scientist!" pose

In the end, if you haven't understood anything at all that I've said, just go watch Apollo 13 again. It's the same thing. I swear. :)

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