VISIONS 49.001 Rowland Mission - Launch Season 2013

Thursday, Jan 31, 2013

Had a very good day at the range today. The team worked very hard to get the payload "staged" on the rail, and we got through the first turn-on test with everything connected together, including all four rocket motor stages. We are getting ready to finish testing and arming tomorrow, and working to ensure launch clearance for the start of our window. Weather is unpredictable, winds have been good, but the clouds and snow come and go. The aurora forecast is improving, with some solar activity headed our way Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, Feb 1, 2013

Today was another great day at the range. We received final clearance to launch during our window, and completed vertical checks. The payload is in good shape, and is ready for the launch window. The skies were mainly clear last night, and we saw some great aurora after sunset. The solar activity / aurora forecast is looking good for tomorrow, the first night of the window. We've moved to night shift and are ready to go, hoping for a launch Saturday night between 10 PM and 3 AM.

Saturday, Feb 2, 2013

We did not launch on the first night of our window (Feb 2). There were some good auroral displays the previous two nights before our window opened, but tonight was very quiet. We did have some very smooth countdown rehearsals and from a technical standpoint everything is ready.

Sunday, Feb 3, 2013

We took a mandatory day off today to get the team refreshed and allow us to count through the rest of the window without interruption. There was not much auroral activity, and the skies were cloudy, so it was a great day to take off and catch up on sleep. The fact that the Ravens came through with a victory didn't hurt! The auroral forecast for tomorrow is much improved, and as long as the skies remain clear enough, we will have a good chance for a launch.

Monday, Feb 4, 2013

11:06 pm - Science has been pretty steady for the last hour. Lots of energy input from the solar wind but we don't see any signs of a big substorm release. There were active aurora over central Canada about 930 PM, and the energy input has been steady, but no visible arcs here or northwards. There was a faint arc here but even that has faded. It's a bit mysterious. We do expect to see a substorm and some auroral activity tonight, the question will be the cloud cover and if we can determine the location of the auroral display enough to launch.

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013

Tonight was incredibly quiet. We are scrubbing now because we are very close to the end of tonight's window, and there is a plane requesting permission to fly through our downrange area. The solar wind was very quiet, and only one very small substorm occurred, too weak for our launch criteria. The team was able to pull together and meet some challenges, including a field repair of the tracking radar. We are back on for tomorrow night, from 10 PM to 4 AM. There is a "corotating interaction region" expected to arrive tomorrow, and a CME the day or two after that, so we are hopeful for some increased activity.

--Douglas Rowland