by Dr. Jeff Goldstein with a forward by Rachel
The following post was written by Dr. Jeff Goldstein, center director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), in response to the unfortunate explosion of the Antares rocket on October 28th, 2014. He summed up this experience far better than we could ever hope to.
For photos of the explosion, look in our photos tab at the bottom of the page.
At Wallops, all of our hard work was supposed to culminate at this point. The research, proposal writing, Hurricane Goldstein, presenting, it was all for this moment: launching our experiment to the International Space Station. We traveled up to Chincoteague, VA, to watch the launch and attend all of the pre-launch events.
Our Fluid Mixing Enclosures (FMEs) for our experiment were due in mid-September, and to prepare our samples we visited NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. What we needed exactly was to cut our 2 lb tin lead-free solder bars into 120 mm by 5 mm by 2 mm strips and solder tin lead-free solder onto a double-sided copper clad fiberglass circuit board. If you’ve never worked with lead-free solder, let me tell you: that stuff is the devil.
On July 3rd, the second day of the 2014 SSEP Conference, we made a trip down to the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) at the University of Maryland, College Park to meet with tin whisker royalty Dr. Michael Osterman, who conducts testing and simulation based failure assessment and has authored over fifteen articles about tin whiskers. (He was also the faculty advisor for Lyudmyla Panashchenko, an engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center who has been advising the Tin Whiskies since Mission 4 and is equally a queen.)
On July 2nd, 2014, we presented our experiment at the 2014 Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Not only were we able to share our experiment with others, but we were also able to listen to presentations by fellow student scientists from all over the country.
PSA Tin Whiskies
Two high schoolers. One college student. One experiment. One International Space Station. Millions of tin whiskers. Two rocket explosions.
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