The Multi-Spectral Solar Telescope Array:
1994 November 3

Welcome to the White Sands Missile Range!

Here we all stand in front of our rocket as it hangs from the rail awaiting launch. The building we are in will move off behind us and the rail will raise our rocket to almost vertical just before launch (this is probably because firing it as you see it now might be considered a bad idea).

From left to right: James Plummer, Richard Hoover, Prof. Arthur B.C. Walker, Dennis Martinez-Galarce (holding our rocket steady), Charles Kankelborg and David Gore
(Not Pictured: Dr. Craig DeForest and Dr. Max Allen)

This is the Front Aperature Plate from the '94 flight. Just about every hole in the plate has a telescope behind it somewhere. You can see all six Ritchey-Chrétien telescopes (one is hiding in the back), the two Cassegrains (one at "2 o'clock" and one at "8 o'clock") and the two Lockheed SPARCS LISS and MASS. Would a labled picture help?

This payload, like the last, was launched atop a Terrier Black Brant IX from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The telescopes were carried to a peak altitude of about 230km (about as high as the shuttle flies) and remained out of the lower atmosphere for a grand total of five minutes.

This is a more general view of our payload. In the background, you can see the "skin" which covers the rear half of the payload. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of our payload before it "landed," but here's one taken afterwards. You may notice that a telescope that was, at one time, looking out a hole in the FAP is now cocked at a rather nasty angle. The current guess is that, although the payload was floating down on it's parachute slowly, the winds had carried it horizontally at a rather high velocity.

Some Pictures From this Last Flight

As of the moment, we have not digitized any of the images, however, below I have scanned prints of the 17.3nm and 155.0nm images.

The Solar Magnetogram for Launch Day
  • Wavelength: 17.3 nm
  • Line: Fe IX and Fe X
  • Temperature: 900,000 K
  • Telescope: Ritchey-Chrétien
  • Wavelength: 155.0 nm
  • Line: C IV
  • Temperature: 500,000 K(?)
  • Telescope: Ritchey-Chrétien
I learned quite a lot about what it means to launch a sounding rocket. I'd be perfectly happy to share some of what I've learned.

MSSTA is a joint project between NASA/MSFC and Stanford University.

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