7th Student Parabolic Flight Campaign Day 3: KaBoom
Team 1023 - Delft University of Technology After a year of preparations, our successful selection for the campaign, and a long trip that started in Delft in the Netherlands, we finally arrive in Bordeaux, France. At Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport the A300 'Zero-G' Airbus stands on the tarmac, glistening in the sunlight, now we're even more excited.
No time to relax and enjoy the view though, the experiment has to be installed in the aircraft. We will be testing the inflation process of an inflatable gravity gradient boom in weightlessness. With 1.30m long booms, the experiment needs a lot of space to give the booms enough room to inflate. We immediately install the experiment into the aircraft. Taking care to keep the aircraft very clean and not to leave any equipment behind.
The base plates of the experiment have to be fixed to the rails on the floor of the aircraft using interfaces. Because the holes in the base plates were drilled before we came to Bordeaux, we were eager to see whether they would fit as planned. We did a good design job because, luckily for us, everything fitted!
Of course we are not alone in the aircraft. Thirty other teams are participating in ESA's 7th Student Parabolic Flight Campaign, fifteen of them together with us in the first group. In the next few days all the experiments have to be placed into the aircraft very close to one another. This sometimes causes some problems; since all the teams prefer to use their maximum allowed space.
Things get a bit cramped, the experiment behind us needs a lot of space too. NOVESPACE decide to move our experiment slightly to the back of the aircraft. We unscrew the interfaces and move to our new location.
The spirit and understanding between the different teams is very good. It is nice to work in an international environment. Having said that, the teams are quite stressed, but we're all helping each other out.
Now that the experiment is installed, we begin attaching all the other equipment to the construction. All the sharp edges and the strut profiles have to be covered with padding to make sure nobody can get hurt if they accidentally float into the experiment during the flight.
At the end of the day, the whole experiment is ready to fly. We have to wait for the staff of SOGERMA and NOVESPACE for a last safety check before we really get the green light to fly. We are confident we won't face any serious problems and so we look forward to the unique experience ahead of us: floating in weightlessness.