The Evening Before the Race

Today was pretty laid back. Some students double- and triple-checked systems, a few napped on the garage floor, still others drooled over Nissan’s super car that did two-minute laps on COTA’s nearly four-mile long asphalt.

Preparation is the key to on-track success. Something seemingly mundane as putting anti-seize compound on your car’s rims, so that on-track tire replacement doesn’t require repeated applications of a large hammer.
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In the meantime, the Miners’ efforts to figure out the downturn in the array’s power paid off. For days it was assumed that a few delicate cell-to-cell connections had broken, but they didn’t want to rule out anything. Ultimately they discovered variations in the maximum power point trackers (MMPTs), a theory confirmed with discussions with other solar power experts on site. Replacements brought the power output to a respectable level. Respectable for an array that for three years has been manhandled, moved, flexed, touched, twisted, poked and prodded, all the things things that aren’t supposed to happen to solar cells.

So, Why the Orange T-Shirts?

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There’s no mistaking the S&T Miners at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). They’ve chosen function over form, safety over civility, practicality over protocol by donning neon orange t-shirts instead of the now-classic S&T green … [Continue reading]

Solar Miners Nab 5th place in Start Line.

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Three days in Texas are set aside for “scrutineering:” three days to pass seven critical tests or go home empty-handed. Electrical, mechanical, array, battery protection systems, driver, vehicle body/sizing/egress, and dynamics. Day one was … [Continue reading]

On to Austin!

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The Missouri S&T Solar car is about 40 hours away from heading to Austin, Texas and the Circuit of the Americas, the site of the 2015 Formula Sun Grand Prix. Thanks to the good folks at the Rolla National Airport the Miners did some … [Continue reading]

Mining for Rockets. Or, 400mph Lawn Darts.

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We’ve posted about the desert search for errant rockets, and finally we have closure. The Miners, along with Harry Steel and Michel Fathallah from the University of Sydney, covered well over a square mile of scorching desert floor and ravines in … [Continue reading]

Launch the Rocket. Look for the Rocket.

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Becomes kind of a monotonous cycle. Each launching salvo consists of two to five rockets lined up on the pad. There’s roughly a 10-minute gap between each vehicle blasting off and the next, an interval that assures everything has returned to … [Continue reading]

Who Knew a Rocket Launch Could Be Such a Hassle?

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It’s been 18 hours since Hyperion lifted off from the dusty surface of the San Rafael Desert, and there’s still no sign of the upper stage and its payload experiments. Chief engineer Kyle Bruer has been leading a search party since late this … [Continue reading]

In Rocket Parlance, it’s Called an “Event.”

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Rocket science has its own language. For those raised in the decades of the space race, we had one-, two-, or three-stage rockets. A booster is still a booster, but the second stage is now called a “sustainer.” Whatever. A rocket flight “event” … [Continue reading]

Dawn in the Desert

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It’s just after sunset on Day #3 of the Intercollegiate Engineering Rocket Competition and Missouri S&T’s HPER Rocket Team has been out scouring the San Rafael Desert for the rocket sustainer (second stage) of their errant launch vehicle. More … [Continue reading]

We Interrupt This Card Game for a Few Rocket Launches.

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There's lots of downtime at a rocket event. Rockets fly in salvos maybe an hour apart, so there's plenty of time to sit in the shade and play cards. But when the countdown comes over the PA system everyone steps outside to watch. As short as … [Continue reading]