THE ROAD SO FAR.... A year ago this month, our experiment, the development of tin whiskers in lead-free solder, was selected for spaceflight as part of Mission 6 of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) to the International Space Station (ISS). Two months later in July of 2014, we presented our experiment at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at the 2014 SSEP Conference and visited the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) at the University of Maryland. We prepared our experimental samples in NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center that September with the help of the eminent Dr. Henning Leidecker, Lyudmyla Panashchenko, and Jay Brusse. In October of that same year, we huddled on a beach to watch our experiment, something we'd worked on for what feels like years, launch to the International Space Station, only to have that rocket explode before our eyes.
To say this has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.
We have used the explosion of the Antares rocket as an opportunity for growth. Dr. Leidecker, Mr. Brusse, and Ms. Panashchenko have graciously offered to let us use a series of card guides from the Space Shuttle Endeavor to investigate the detachment of tin whiskers. It is an incredibly kind offer and we will be visiting them on May 18th, 2015, to prepare our experimental samples.
Our experiment is now composed of a copper-clad double-sided circuit board to investigate the development of tin whiskers and a copper beryllium card guide to investigate the detachment rate of tin whiskers. This configuration was recently approved by NanoRacks, LLC, and the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).
What's next for the Tin Whiskies?
On May 18th, we will be visiting NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center to prepare our experimental samples.
On June 1st, our experimental samples are due!
In late June, our experiment is slated for launch out of Cape Canaveral.
Thank you for your support on this magical journey! We still have more to do, but we're eager to get started on the final chapter.