MUSIC

WALLOPS ISLAND — The Multiple User Suborbital Instrument Carrier #1(MUSIC 1) mission, originally scheduled for launch in December 2015, proved itself to be quite the exercise in flexibility, not launching until almost three months later on March 1. This sounding rocket mission consisted of a two-stage Terrier MK12 Improved Malemute vehicle carrying payloads from NASA’s Applied Engineering Technology Directorate (AETD), and another developed by students at West Virginia University. A further goal of this mission was to allow AETD engineering personnel to gain experience in developing sounding rocket technology and conduct systems engineering processes.

The Research Range Services (RSS) team developed all required documentation and participated in the final review required to support a launch attempt in the December 2015 window. All pre-mission interface testing was completed (boom test, vertical checks and dress rehearsals), and the team was ready to support the attempt. Unfortunately, at the Approval to Proceed meeting the day before the window opened, an issue with the vehicle was discovered. That concern, coupled with a high sea state that would affect hazard area surveillance support, scrubbed the launch.

This allowed the vehicle team time to troubleshoot the issue and increase the chances of a successful launch. A new launch date for mid-December was coordinated but during a secondary round of pre-mission testing, another vehicle issue was discovered and the launch was scrubbed again. The NASA project manager announced the launch date would be no earlier than February 2016.

When personnel returned after the New Year, the team realized the vehicle issues discovered during the December 2015 launch window had rolled into 2016. The launch date continued to slip throughout the month of February but the hard work of the vehicle team paid off, and they were able to successfully resolve all issues and set a launch date. Unfortunately, just as the vehicle issues were resolved, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse, and another week was lost. At long last, the weather cleared, the vehicle stayed healthy, clearances were in place and on March 1, 2016, the vehicle was successfully launched with data successfully gathered.

Although the schedule slips presented a challenge in coordination of support assets, ultimately effective communication and teamwork won the day, bringing a successful completion to months of effort and flexible planning