HASSP-1 wasn’t even untangled from the power lines when the team was already talking about attempting another launch. We learned a lot from our last attempt, mostly around the actual logistics of dealing with large weather balloons. A few days after the launch, we had a launch “retro” meeting where we talked about what was good, what could have been better, and just other general feedback on our process. Then we decided to just relax for a week or so, just sort of casually collecting thoughts on what we could do different for our next launch to ensure a higher chance of success or we wanted to change anything.
We had a team meeting on Monday (07/24/17) where we talked about our next launch date. We decided we’re going to try again on August 26th, 2017. This is a Saturday this time. We also talked about what we’re doing to do different. Here’s a quick list of items we’re working on for our next launch:
- The construction team (Gene, Matt) are working on re configuring the layout of our capsule. Specifically, we want to change the layout so we have better isolation of components from heat. Our cameras last time got REAL hot, and one even shut down before the capsule got off the ground. They’re also going to build a new radar reflector since our last one flew away with the balloon.
- Speaking of cameras, we’re going to change up what we were using. Instead of the old Hero 4 Silvers, we have some brand new Sessions that were very generously donated from Brent. So far, testing on these have been very positive, with some really impressive battery life on their own. They might not have all the bells and whistles of the newer Hero sessions, but they’ll work just fine for us. And they’re very small and light.
- Paul and I are going to tweak our SQL Server instance configuration just a bit. One thing we didn’t get working well were the external backups from the Joule to some sort of (bulletproof) media. This is more of a Linux problem to solve than SQL Server, since it has to do with (auto) mounting file systems.
- Julie is looking at building in some queries/views/procs into the database itself for easy reports and test queries. She’s also looking at ways to ensure that if we get any strange sensor readings (outliers) that these can be identified and scrubbed real-time.
- Chris is looking into new ways to measure our helium flow from our tank to the balloon. On our last attempt, we merely were relying on measuring lift and just using a standard regulator to inflate the balloon. He’s going to research various gauges or other regulator options for helping to monitor and measure the amount of helium actually coming out of the tank.
- The team is also looking at changing up our balloon parameters. Last time, we decided on a 1200g balloon and inflated accordingly. We could potentially scale down to a 600g balloon. This means less helium for a similar flight profile, but we loose about 20,000 feet off our altitude ceiling. We also have a much shorter flight. After having kicked it around, I think we’re going to “go big or go home” and stick with our original plan of using a 1200g balloon and trying to get close to 100,000 feet.
- To that end, we’re looking at better ways to measure our lift. We’re going to forgo the the old, “analog” scale that we tried to use last time and are instead going to try the Cadillac of fish measuring scales:
This baby has it all: multiple units, a tare function, and lush back-lit display. We’ll try using this so that we can measure a much higher lift value (rather than trying to approximate it). I feel really good about this.
- We’re going to launch from the Neil Armstrong County Airport again, and this time we’re going to coordinate well in advance and hopefully have a hanger to work in, away from the the wind.
- We might ditch trying to live-stream the event this time. This is a tough one to swallow, but our internet connections just aren’t reliable enough for any amount of quality streaming. Instead, we might rent or invest in some nicer cameras and recording equipment for the launch and record it for publishing later. We’re still probably going to keep our live stream YouTube channel up and running so you can monitor the flight using the interface Robert built, but more on this as we get closer to the date.
So there you have it. We’re really excited to try again. As always, watch this blog, my twitter, or the #hassp channel on the SQL Community Slack.