DIT students launch experiment into space as part of REXUS space programme


23rd February 2011

A team of postgraduate students from Dublin Institute of Technology, today, launched an experiment on a sub-orbital space flight from the Arctic Circle. The DIT Students, otherwise known ‘Team Telescobe’, are the first Irish group to launch an experiment as part of the REXUS program, run by the European Space Agency.

The launch is scheduled to take place today Tuesday. 22 February, 2011 from 9am from Esrange, a rocket range in Northern Sweden. The students will share space on the rocket with other teams from around Europe. Their experiment aims to demonstrate a new probe deployment mechanism for use in upper atmosphere research.

You can see the launch and a view from an onboard camera and the control room, online at http://spaceresearch.dit.ie/telescobe/launch  

The team consists of five postgraduate engineering students: Mark Wylie, Paul Duffy, Dinesh Vather, Stephen Curran and Jack Keegan. They were selected to participate in the programme after presenting their proposal at the European Space Agency's ESTEC centre in Noordwjik, The Netherlands, in December 2009.   They are the first ever Irish team to be selected to fly an experiment on a sounding rocket as part of the European Space Agency's REXUS competition

Over the past 12 months the team members have travelled to various space centres around Europe for design reviews, training weeks and experiment tests. Final testing has been completed and the experiment has been passed to fly. The team travelled to Esrange one week ago to complete the integration of the experiment into the rocket. Upon completion of the launch the team will conduct an analysis of the data obtained before presenting their findings at a number of aerospace conferences in Europe.

Compact design should lead to more effective deployment

Currently, probes used for this kind of research are deployed using booms which extend in much the same fashion as an umbrella opens. Whilst this method is well proven, it requires a considerable amount of payload space within a rocket. The telescopic design devised by the DIT team requires much less payload space. The multi-section boom collapses to a very compact size in much the same way as an internal television aerial collapses. The whole experiment fits into a module only 25 cm in height. The telescopic boom is capable of being deployed by a spring loaded system for non-spin stabilized flights (as is the case with this flight) or by centrifugal force for spin stabilized flights. The compact design and simple operation should lead to a more cost effective and reliable method for probe deployment.

6 minutes in space

The 6 minute flight will peak at an altitude of 100km. The rocket will then re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and return for a safe landing via parachute. The experiments on board will then be retrieved for testing. A three camera monitoring system will be used to gather data about the boom deployment system’s performance such as deployment length, deflection and vibration. This data will be used in a comparative analysis with other boom designs.

More information about this project can be found: http://spaceresearch.dit.ie/telescobe/telescobe_project

Click here to download the project poster.

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