Hello friend, anonymous reader, you who perhaps got lost in the vastness of the Internet,
I am writing this entry from Santa Cruz, CA, where after our 40 days of integration in Texas, I have resumed my tranquil existence. What has happened in our last week in Palestine: a discombobulating weather forecast, a disjointed compatibility test, a day trip to Austin, and the packing of our equipment to Sweden.
After our thermal vacuum test, we were very close to being ready for the final hang test (also called compatibility test), where the gondola is mounted in its flight configuration, with the solar panel connected to the battery box, telemetry scheme in place, and the gondola hanging from a crane a few feet above ground. We then send commands to verify “uplink” communication (from our Ground Support Equipment computers, GSE in jargon, to the instrument), and “downlink” data reception. However, the hang test is very much supposed to happen outdoors, preferably on a clear blue sky day, the sun majestically shining upon our little solar panels, bits flying to and fro, flawlessly reaching the satellites, us cheering in the back: “Weeeeeeee!” “Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!” goes the crowd.
Well that did not really happen…the weather was not being cooperative, with storms and high winds in the horizon, our shipping deadline looming ahead like a Damocles sword. So we hung inside (total weight of our gondola: 940 lbs), tested the telemetry inside and outside (not hanging), and scrutinize the cloud to test our solar panel at every pitiful ray of sunshine that would dare show its face. The broken up test was enough to convince us that everything functioned properly, but would it suffice for CSBF to believe we were indeed flight ready?
The suspense was building up, but we had no time to waste, left the instrument as is on the gondola, and started the painstaking process of packing and listing all of our equipment.
In the meantime, Pierre-Simon and myself also took a day off and drove to Austin, to satiate Roger’s curiosity about arcane state legislature. Incidentally, it also happened to be the Austin half-marathon that day, which would definitely explain all the limping people in leggings we saw.
Allow me to wallow just a tad in the very fresh nostalgia I feel for Palestine, a place we did not necessarily expect to enjoy much. Goodbye Palestine, goodbye to the gentle hum of your freight trains, the ground shaking ever so slight at each passage, goodbye oversize pick-up trucks and drive-through liquor stores. Goodbye charming red bricks and dark alleys, goodbye big strong men of CSBF, goodbye PMC-Turbo, and goodbye to you too, abandoned carcass on the side of the road who has not moved a iota since we got here, blessing us (I’d like to imagine) with the kind, dead, stare of your skeleton every morning on our way to work. You’ve all been good to me.
So here we are now: all packed up, sea container closed, and ready to go. And if the reality of the conclusion of our odd, short life takes a bit to sink in, there is always NASA to remind me that, in their eyes, I no longer exist…
Yallah, talk to you soon, next stop: Sverige!
Categories: Palestine, Texas