NASA’s collegiate rocket launch program is a four-step series that takes students from learning to construct the rocket payload to sending it in to space. NNU began the journey at the RockOn conference in June 2011, and will end it in June 2012 with the launch of their two experiments.
Step 1: RockOn
RockOn is a three-day intense workshop developed by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. RockOn guides faculty and students from across the United States through the construction of a rocket payload that is launched on the fifth day. At the workshop, participants build a computer board, build a scientific experiment (Geiger Counter), program the system and mechanically integrate the system into the RockSat Payload Canister.
Step 2: RockSat
After attending the 2011 RockOn Conference, NNU’s team was accepted into the RockSat program. Over the duration of the 2011-12 academic year, NNU’s team will design the two experiments and build them in to a payload that will be launched this June at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The first experiment continues to test the superhydrophobic material that Team Super-Hydro worked with during Microgravity University 2011.
Using a hollow, donut-shaped casing, the superhydrophobic material will be tested in a high-vibration, high-acceleration environment to determine the feasibility of using the material on future space missions. After the payload is recovered, NNU’s RockSat team will compare the before and after samples.
The second experiment partners with American Semiconductor, Inc. Students are working with company engineers to design an experiment that tests radiation hardened chips. It is expected that the radiation hardened chips will report less errors than the non-hardened ones also sent up on the rocket.