The REXUS/BEXUS program offers students the opportunity not only of the experimental procedure. The course of the project is also similar to the course of space projects in industry. Thus, individual milestones such as PDR and CDR are common practice in the development of space probes, satellites or rovers. Since the program is designed for a period of 18 months and the financial scope of the participants is limited, and the requirements of a sounding rocket to the payload are smaller than when transporting to orbit, the experimental requirements are partially simplified, without reducing the safety of humans, the rocket or the experiments.
The following list provides an overview over the most important milestones of the project and their actual or expected date.
After our supervising professor dr. M. Pietras had made us aware of the REXUS / BEXUS program in the spring, we spent the first half of the year defining the experiment and acquiring resources. May 29th is actually the founding date of our WhatsApp chat. From that day on, it was seriously discussed what participation in the program might look like.
After our application was accepted, we were invited by the DLR to the Selection Workshop and presented our experiment in Bonn. In two days, teams from all over Germany presented their experiments and answered the questions of the jury. From then on, we waited anxiously for the decision of the REXUS / BEXUS team.
December 12 started with great news that our experiment was selected to participate in Cycle 12 of the REXUS/BEXUS program! This marked the start of the actual work. The mechanical design had to be refined, the requirements sorted, and the accompanying document for our experiment, the SED, was filled with life. This work mainly served to prepare for the PDR, the first major milestone of our project.
The PDR took place during the Student Training Week on the premises of the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. In one week, all REXUS and BEXUS teams received a series of workshops and lectures on the technology, organization, and operation of the program. In principle, the PDR is a review of our previous design by the professionals of DLR, ESA and the other organizations involved. In a short presentation we presented the mechanical, electrical and software design of our experiment and were able to identify weaknesses and design problems in a subsequent discussion round.
The CDR also took place in Oberpfaffenhofen, but was less extensive and only with the REXUS teams. In a short presentation we updated the REXUS/BEXUS-Team on our progress und identified weak points in our design, projectplanning and documentation in the discussion afterwards. We also had a couple of workshops, including an interface discussion and on the preparations for the launch campaign. We could also find some solutions for the problems we are facing in the Ask-An-Expert session. It also included a soldering course, so we are able to produce space-grade solders for our electrical system. Now we are ready to manufacture parts, order the electrics and begin testing. We have time until the IPR to finish the bulk of the integration and verification, before testing @ ZARM starts in autumn.
For the IPR, we received a visit from the ZARM staff in our laboratory at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, who look after us on behalf of the DLR. Our team presented the current state of the AIMIS project in a presentation. Afterwards, the progress was discussed in detail and the further steps discussed.
For this we will again receive a visit from the ZARM. This time our plan for the launch campaign will be reviewed, so how our experiment aboard the rocket will go in detail. In addition, our experiment is again tested with the help of the service module simulator to see if it is safe to fly on board the rocket. At the end of the review is the decision whether our experiment may fly or not.
The Integration Week represents an important milestone in the program. Together with the other REXUS teams, we will travel to ZARM in Bremen and integrate our experiment into the rocket module. It will then be tested for functionality and the interaction with the service module and the other experiments is examined. So for the first time we will get an idea of what the finished rocket will look like.
The bench test takes place again in Oberpfaffenhofen. The individual experiment modules are put through their paces together with the rockets remaining flight systems. In addition to a spin test and the study of electromagnetic emissions, the flight of the rocket is simulated from countdown to landing. All possible disturbances and safety risks for the rocket should be found or excluded. A great possibility to practice the launch of the rocket in advance!
The goal of this project is finally within reach. For two weeks, the REXUS teams gather at the ESRANGE site in Kiruna, Sweden, to prepare for the launch of their respective rocket. The launch depends very much on the weather conditions on site, so our experiments must be able to be operated in our absence by the ESRANGE staff. We expect two exciting weeks in the winter northern Sweden, maybe there are also some aurora to admire.
The launch of the REXUS rocket does not mark the end of the REXUS/BEXUS program. The experimental results collected during the flight need to be sorted, prepared and published. In total, we have about 3 months after the Launch Campaign for publishing our results. We hope for new insights, which we as team AIMIS can receive through this program!
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