Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 58, December 21, 2012 -- No launch

I'll get it out of the way first: we unfortunately didn't launch today.

Things started off well at about 11:30PM last night -- we went through our pre-rollout tasks (refilling cryogens, closing access panels, checking commands, etc) and got out onto the deck around 1:30AM without incident, and while out on the deck the mechanical work (deploying baffles and solar panels) proceeded apace. We did a quick scan test as well, and then let CSBF take over to attach to the launch vehicle and add their hardware. While out on the deck, we noticed that our flight computers seemed to be rebooting an awful lot, but we chalked it up to people working around the gondola (we have had problems with static discharge during the whole campaign) so we weren't too concerned. CSBF attached all their hardware and then went away from the building to do various checks around 4:30AM.

Out there they discovered that one of their electronics packages had an issue so they replaced it with a spare, leading to a small delay. We also had a bit of wind variability -- winds that originally looked like they were coming from the west started turning around to head out of the east, meaning the layout direction couldn't be fixed until that worked itself out. In the end, the winds lined up such that the launch path would take the balloon directly over the LDB facility buildings, which means that all non-launch-essential personnel would have to stay indoors -- we wouldn't even be able to watch the launch!

It ended up being a non-issue, though, since our flight computer continued to misbehave while hanging out on the pad. We thought we found the problem and went out to do a quick change of the control software, but that ended up only solving most of the problems. After a few hours on the pad, the winds picked up and we hadn't yet figured out the solution to the flight computer issue, so we headed back in. Our next launch opportunity doesn't seem to be for a few days yet, so there's plenty of time to debug.


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