Friday, September 27, 2013

SCRAMSPACE: Launch Anomaly

Tough day at Andoya Rocket Range for University of Queensland SCRAMSPACE team. My heart goes out to these guys; they put a lot of good time, effort and smarts into their experiment.

Here's the official statement:
“The rocket carrying the scramjet launched at 3pm (Norwegian time, 11pm Brisbane time), however the payload failed to achieve the correct altitude to begin the scientific experiment as planned.

“The SCRAMSPACE payload, according to our data, was operating perfectly and performed extremely well before and during the launch, and we received telemetry data all the way into the water.

“Unfortunately the failed launch meant we could not carry out the experiment as planned.”

“The team is very disappointed. The project represents a lot of time, effort and money by a committed consortium of partners and sponsors.”
University of Queensland Hypersonics Chair Professor Russell Boyce

Flight experimentation is an unforgiving business because any little detail can prevent the objectives from being met. As Professor Boyce goes on to say, the important part (second only to the flight data) is the intellectual capital developed to design, build and fly the payload. Once the team with the right experience base exists, and the non-recurring engineering is accomplished, re-building hardware is low-hanging fruit (payload replacement cost << investment in people and design). He also says that with all launches there is a risk of something going wrong. Risk notwithstanding, there are things worth flying for. I hope the UQ team can secure resources to fly again.

Various media coverage:

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