This is exciting for many reasons:
- we were competing for one of the coveted 4 large payloads (HASP features 12 total seats, 4 large and 8 small)
- we're going back to space (and, by extension, NASA facilities in New Mexico, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia)
- our payload proposition is much more ambitious this year, and much closer to state-of-the-art than our tamer atmospheric experiment, GOAT
- WE WERE FULLY ACCEPTED on the first try with ZERO NEED FOR REVISIONS. For contrast, our proposal for GOAT came back with 4 pages of comments and to-dos, which turned into a solid month of work.
- Not only do we have ZERO REVISIONS, the comments were utterly glowing:
This is particularly validating, as we have always striven for excellence in our technical writing. We put a lot of time into our paperwork, since we believe that strong communication is particularly essential in the world of grant-funded, public-outreach-oriented science. Our HAB team was awarded "Best Documentation," something we're still proud about years later. Making our way onto HASP's website as an example has been our ambition from the get-go. (We'll see if we actually get there, but even being recommended for it is high honor.)
Thanks to all the reviewers and administrators of the HASP program: y'all do a lot of work for us students, and we deeply appreciate it. Project-based learning like this is excellent experience for life.
Those of you watching from home may recall our earlier post about what our project actually is: we're flying a robot arm of our own design & manufacture.
During flight, the arm will be autonomously running through repeated dexterity exercises, using its own on-board camera 'eyes' and computer 'brain' to flick switches, press buttons, turn knobs, and grasp and move blocks.
We'll be measuring its performance to see how well it holds up over the entire flight, since [near-]space is a harsh, harsh place even for handsome robots:
- heat can build up, especially with the sun hitting us full-blast,
- electronics might misbehave, and
- our semi-liquid lubricants will exposed to an environment that really doesn't encourage anything staying as a liquid. As anyone who's read or seen The Wizard of Oz can attest, machines with moving parts really don't work well without lubricants.
Now we've got to go actually try and build this thing. We're only a month or so behind, so stay tuned for some high-quality panicked flailing.