Dawn in the Desert

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 on that later but the slow pace of yesterday’s launches meant that the remaining dozen or more advanced class rocket teams had just a four-hour window to fly or go home empty handed. That window started at 7:00 a.m. today, and with a first-come, first served flight order the Miners staggered out of their hotel at 5:00 a.m. to get an early place in line.
Dawn in the desert is beautiful. It’s cool and a little breezy so those students not working on crucial launch tasks had a few moments to take in the stillness.

Or partake of the daily pre-heat communal hydrate ceremony.

Or run around the desert floor testing the booster parachute.

Or work feverishly to make the 11:00 a.m. cut-off time, which they did with less than a minute to spare.