Overcoming Murphy’s Law

AAVGDSC_0593 - 2.jpgNASA’s University Student Launch Initiative (USLI); what could go wrong for S&T, did. Tornado panic and weather delays presaged a long list of S&T screw-ups, forgotten items, assumptions and gremlins that could reduce an Advanced Aero Vehicle Group rocket team member to tears.
Dave Althuis reported the following technical pratfalls:
A 1mm clear coat in the wrong place makes a rocket nearly impossible to take apart. It took two football players using pipe straps and a hammer hours to dislodge.
A household weather station is a great source of aerospace parts when your rocket’s humidity and temp sensors fail. And that’s what happened.
The camera release broke, then somehow started working again.
The Miners left critical electric switches back home, made new ones, broke them and fixed them again. And it worked.
Ditto for the electronics bay bulkheads; turns out Ace Hardware had aerospace-grade plywood, threaded rod, nuts, wing nuts, and a MILSPEC hole saw.
Gremlins ate a critical power terminal screw. A cross-threaded #4 screw and washer sandwich stood in for the proper connection. Couldn’t have flown without this fix.
Three hours of sleep took the thrill out of watching the sun rise over the launch field. And then they got sunburned.
“Oh, yeah”, says Dave, “the rocket flew great”! “Sagitto flew to 4,438 feet (short of the 5,280/1 mile target, and similar to our 4,706 ft test flight), all the re-entry charges worked perfectly, and the camera did stay properly oriented to the horizon. S&T took second place in the outreach category and copped our third “best looking rocket” award in four years. Overcoming all the foul ups gave us a great sense of accomplishment.”
Seriously, Alex Crook put together an amazing YouTube video with a great “you-were-there” feeling.
You don’t have get up at 4:00 a.m. and get sunburned to see this great video clip!