Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 52, 5/16/09 -- Almost.

Today Jeff and I did more work on the baffles, fixing up the minor damage from the winds during compatibility testing and improving the structure a bit. The big news today, though, was the weather: Tomorrow morning looks like an excellent opportunity for a launch. The problem, however, is that the projected flight track would take any payload launched close to the Mexico border, and they are required to terminate if the payload gets within 50 miles of the border. Even a minor deviation from the projected path would require an early termination and thus a short flight -- perhaps only 10-12 hours instead of the 24 that every group here is hoping for.

For FIREBall, this is definitely a no-go: They can only observe at night, and CSBF only launches payloads from Fort Sumner in the mornings -- if they only got a 10 hour flight, they wouldn't get any data at all. The NCT crew also would like to get some post-sunset flight time so they can test their systems for their eventual long-duration flight from Australia which, unlike an Antarctic long-duration-flight, has to go through sunsets. For us, the flight didn't meet our minimum requirements for the science we wanted to do.

In the end, it was decided that there would be an NCT launch attempt tomorrow if the projected flight track improves as we get weather data closer to flight. We'll see how it goes.

Also, I got a package of delicious date bars from a friend in Minneapolis! They were a big hit with the rest of the crew here too.

No pictures today.

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