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Wireless Sensor Network Test on SOAREX-8 Sounding Rocket is Successful
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Wireless Sensor Network Test on SOAREX-8 Sounding Rocket is Successful

The Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Re-entry EXperiments (SOAREX-8) payload containing the Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) was successfully launched from Wallops Flight Facility on July 7, 2015 at 6:15 a.m. The 36.313 sounding rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport and consisted of a Terrier first-stage and a Black Brandt second-stage. The SOAREX-8 payload from Ames Research Center shared the rocket with the Radial Core Heat Spreader payload from Glenn Research Center.

The WSN subsystem was part of the SOAREX-8 payload and measured aerodynamic pressure and temperature on the exo-brake and within the rocket nose cone. An inertial measurement unit provided data on payload acceleration during ascent and reentry. The WSN success criteria were met and exceeded by obtaining key vehicle data from sensors during flight. Two data points were obtained through the intersatellite telemetry link, each representing a distinct phase of flight. The first data point showed about 3G of acceleration, representing the Black Brant second-stage burn. The second data point showed nearly zero acceleration on all axes, representing the free drift, microgravity portion of the flight near the apex of the trajectory. Temperature and pressure sensors showed heating caused by thermal energy imparted during ascent to the forward portion of the rocket.

The WSN development and flight test were covered by the press as the first demonstration of the Internet of Things (IoT) in space:

IoT Tech Goes To Space With NASA

BACKGROUND: The SOAREX-8 project is part of the NASA Sounding Rocket Program and the Flight Opportunities Program. The Ames PI is Marcus Murbach and the primary experiment was deployment of a hypersonic exo-brake, a parachute-like structure intended to slow reentry for sample return. Secondary SOAREX-8 experiments include a new downlink capability for video images provided by a WiFi transceiver and a new X-band transmitter and Ames-developed space camera.

PROGRAM FUNDING: Funding for the WSN subsystem is provided by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), Chief Scientist Daniel Winterhalter, and ARC Chief Engineer Nans Kunz.

TEAM: Richard Alena, Ray Gilstrap, Ali Guarneros Luna, Rick Morrison, Marcus Murbach, Gabriel Pearman, Ryan Rivas, Thomas Shu, and Thom Stone

POC: Rick Alena,

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