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Week 14b: The Rocket Range Diaries, Day 5

Even rocket campaigns must come to an end.

DAY 5: “Okay Adam, we know you’re excited, but SLOW DOWN!”

Oh, that quote? Well, you recall the signers, right? They were great sports and were able to make their way through extremely dense scientific lectures (see rocket-borne lidar), but every so often they were forced to ask the speaker to take the foot off the gas pedal. Or in my case, significantly more often than every so often. But full credit, they kept up with me pace for pace, and every request for a breath was given with a smile on their face.

(they also had little sayings and signals to help keep all of us separate for Marcus’ benefit – mine was something along the lines of “We can always hear Adam!”)

After taking care of a few final lectures on atmospheric radar (including SuperDARN – the pride of the U of s), the students began to present their results. David was ecstatic to report that his magnetometer measurements matched (and actually exceeded) those of the on-board magnetometer, and in general all instruments had functioned perfectly (thanks, of course, to the telemetry team’s bang-on data acquisition). Most intriguing was the spinning habits of the rocket – more specifically, the reversal of the spin three times. This wasn’t fully explained until simulations at Bristol the next summer. I could tell you the reason, but alas that I’ve lost the clearance I had to do so. Plus the Americans just might have to silence both of us – they can be a shifty lot when it comes to trade secrets.

And, to toot our own horn just a little more, the Telemetry team was able to liven up the somewhat boring topic of signal processing by employing the first-ever (to my knowledge) human flowchart – Dag Martin stepping in admirably as the parabolic dish receiver. If I can find that photo, I’ll be sure to post it.


Because I can’t seem to fit these anywhere else:

  • Last year (2008) the rocket payload included e. coli - wanted to see the effect of TWENTY-FIVE G'S on the little buggers. Will keep you posted if I ever track down the results.
  • This year, one of the Canadian participants with a nasty habit of sleep-talking/walking wandered out of bed at three in the morning, shook his roommate awake, and said, “Raimo, Raimo, wake up! The rocket told me that it's going to launch in 10 minutes and we have to get up now!!"

(and for those of you playing the home game – Raimo was my roommate. Luckily this sleep business has been funny every time it’s happened.)

  • This week marked the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Roseline Weisshaar, my third set of grandparents and our perennial next-door neighbours in Wilcox. Mom and Dad flew down in surprise for the celebration, and I was able to convince the Norwegian Post to send my postcard there on time. I was treated by a return phone call, and as long as I live I’ll remember the words of John when I finally and breathlessly finished my rocket stories:

“Not bad for a prairie boy, eh?”

“And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time…”

Alas, the time came to pack our things and bid the rocket range adieu. After the easiest course evaluation EVER and a final chance for Ashton to save the day (rescued hundreds of my photos for me as I was transferring them onto the Range computers), we picked up our free t-shirts and said our goodbyes to the range that had been such a marvelous home for the last five days.

On the plane ride home (between an engaging conversation with the Oslo students) and the last leg on the bus (again, spectacular service), the week that was began to sink in. It was incredible, but over the next few days I went through a bit of culture shock – I had so enjoyed the intense pace and great friends that coming back to Tromsø (as magnificent as it had been for the three months previous) was a bit of a let-down. And, it goes without saying that I was no longer provided with five squares a day; Alex summed it up best with the observation that he ate more meat in that single week at the range than in the rest of his time in Norway. However, this was short-lived, and I was soon ready for the next adventure Tromsø could provide.

Oh, and if I have one last thing to say about the rocket range: I’ll be back.

Posted by adamvigs 06:35 Archived in Norway

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