ARES I: NASA STudent Launch
The ARES launch vehicle performed admirably on all three launches. The structure of the rocket proved to be more than capable of sustaining the forces involved with flight as well as recovery. In addition, the recovery system worked flawlessly on each launch. When the fact that a majority of team members had never built or launched a rocket before this year is taken into account, the fact that the launch vehicle worked so well is even more impressive. The construction of such a reliable vehicle could not have happened without the team’s mentor, Lee Brock, from whom the team learned an immense amount about rocketry. Overall, the ARES team is very pleased with the design and performance of their launch vehicle.
The HAL payload was a massive undertaking from the very beginning. The goal for the payload was to be able to take and analyze images of the ground to detect landing hazards, and to steer away from the hazards to a safe spot (the launch pad). The team encountered innumerable problems throughout the year which were accentuated by the fact that the team had very little electronics experience. The problems persisted right up through launch day, when the team had to work frantically to solve some last minute issues. Even with the many roadblocks throughout the year and the lack of experience and knowledge of electronics, the team was able to come up with a novel design, and to construct this design. Due to time constraints, the payload was not subjected to as much testing as the team would have liked, and the first full powered flight was on launch day. Although the payload did not perform as planned, the team is still very satisfied with the way they problem solved in the face of adversity and grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much.