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“Always Open”


“Always Open”

Those of you who follow us on Facebook may have noticed a quirk. Under the “About” section, just under the map of Hoboken, it says “Always Open.” This is no mistake.

Here’s a little peek into what we’ve been up to this weekend — at all hours of the day.

Tank Cleaning

As you may recall from a few weeks back, the vast majority of our propulsion system needs to be “Clean for Oxygen Use.” We have finished pipes, fittings, and adapters and are onto the bigger pieces: our tanks.

The helium and oxygen tanks we use were made special for us by Infinite Composites Technologies. We are rigorously cleaning both with isopropyl alcohol baths to dislodge any remaining construction materials from the inside.

Since the alcohol coming out is dirty, we also needed to clean it for reuse — about 34 liters (9 gallons) worth. Monica and Dakota spent much of Saturday vacuum filtering all 34 liters.

Load Cell Calibration

A by-product of last weekend’s Dry Run Mechanical Test, we are confirming all of our load cells work. In order to accurately measure the thrust of the rocket, we will attach it to the ground with cables. These cables will pull on our load cells, which tell us how much thrust the rocket has.

Ben was hard at work making sure the code was solid while Will used the engine hoist to test a few known loads.

Now that it’s Monday, Will, Tom, and Abe are out on Walker Lawn with the load cells and duck bill anchors. The anchors are being used to test the load cells, and vice versa. We want to make sure our duck bill anchors are rated properly. After all, the last thing we would want is for an anchor to come out of the ground during a test.

Fitting Tightening

Last but not least, we have our piping. As mentioned above, all of the propulsion subassemblies have been cleaned for oxygen use. Now, it’s just a matter of preparing them for testing and launch.

Our propulsion system has threaded joints from two rival piping standards: JIC (Joint Industry Council) and NPT (National Pipe Tapered). Each of these two standards comes in multiple sizes — and each size requires a unique tightening force. Larger threads require greater tightening force — as much as 100 foot-pounds.

Nathan and Will using two wrenches and a vise to tighten a JIC-12 fitting to specification.

In order to accurately tighten each joint, we use both a torque wrench and a crescent wrench. (One to twist, one to hold the rest of the subassembly.) For some subassemblies, more advanced methods are needed, though. In the case of particularly wiggly or oddly-shaped pieces, a vise is necessary to get a good grip. Thus the above picture outside the clean room — as long as the interior is not compromised, the outside of the subassembly can always be cleaned again.

A Little Fun

We also manage to have a little fun after a long day’s work. (And usually right before another long night’s work.) Friday night, we all stepped outside to enjoy a barbecue dinner. Because how else would we ring in the first day of summer?