We've made good progress this week in getting Acceleron V back on the launch pad. Early in the week we tested the new narrow nozzle seals to make sure they will hold up to the pressure. This was also a pressure test of the booster side of the launcher. During assembly we noticed that one of the nozzle seals was distorting too much when the bottle was tightened. So dad machined up a new nozzle seal cutter that was a little wider and we made 3 new nozzle seals out of harder rubber. These worked well during assembly and in the pressure test.
Pressure testing the new nozzle seals. You can see the fog in the upper bottles as we let the pressure out.
On Friday we pressure tested the sustainer release mechanism and air supply. During the test we noticed that there was a very minor leak (1 or 2 drops per second) in the release head. On closer inspection it looked like there were a couple of small vertical grooves in the o-ring seat. So we spent today replacing the Gardena release mechanism with a new one. We are letting the epoxy fully cure before doing another test.
We spent the rest of today re-assembling Acceleron back to its normal configuration,.
Attaching the fins with the use of a fin alignment jig.
There are still lots of little jobs to do on the rocket, but it's good to see it back together again. We will do an integration pressure check to around 60psi to make sure there are no leaks in the Tornado couplings without putting too much stress on the entire rocket.
Next major milestones include a re-assembly of the sustainer. Depending on our progress schedule we may fly it at this weeks NSWRA launch day to flight qualify it before it gets used with the Acceleron booster.