What an awe-inspiring week we had here at the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies program 2018. We had everything from rockets and aliens, to dancing and a proposal!

Thanks to Bhattacharya Space Enterprises, participants had a unique experience on Tuesday to deconstruct and analyse 16 cubesats to understand the simplicity of this newspace hardware. Additionally, they had the opportunity to simulate a cubesat launch through software, coding elements on the spot and learning the basics of Arduino. To finish on a high, the participants each took a selfie with the cubesat camera to demonstrate the imaging techniques used by cubesats when in operation in outerspace.

This entire week illustrated the true diversity of the Space industry and ISU education, with inspiring topics covering disciplines ranging from space humanities and culture to space science; and technical talks by John Connolly, the chief of NASA’s Mars Study Capability team and a previous director of ISU.

Tuesday evening brought about a new addition to SHSSP, with the introduction of TechTalks, a play on the famous Ted Talks. Omar Hatamleh of ISU; Paddy Neumann of Neumann Space; Matthew Tetlow of Inovor Technologies; Andy Kieatiwong from Additive Rocket Corporation; Colin Hall from Future Industries Institute; and Bill Cowley on software dedicated radio, all gave 15 minutes presentations of their destructive technologies in the space sector.

A well established highlight of the SSP program (sister program to SHSSP) is the rocket building workshop series, run by John Connolly of NASA. This week SHSSP celebrated it’s inaugural series of rocket launches with all 49 participants taking part, the largest group in the workshops history! John flew downunder specifically for this and he grouped all 49 participants into teams based on skill-sets and key motivational drivers. Starting with the initial rocket design and build phase, participants were catapulted into action to design a rocket, simulate it’s stability and trajectory upon launch and gauge any alterations required for a successful mission. There was an added surprise too with a payload requirement of a small raw egg to be launched safely into the sky and return with a smooth landing. Elon Musk would be proud!

Dr Charley Lineweaver, provided a welcomed intermission from the intensive rocket building on Thursday evening by postulating the everlasting question of “Are we alone in the universe?” at the UniSA West Campus. With an enthusiastic turnout of participants and public, there was a vibrant atmosphere of curiosity and comedy as Charlie brought us along a journey starting with a human centric perspective of life in the universe, and finishing on a note of statistical probabilities and the insignificant chances of kangaroos ever forming on other planets.

SH-SSP18 rocket launchSaturday morning was Launch day and with T-2 hours, participants set off from their base at Mawson Lakes, heading to the launch site at Lowes Farm just North of Adelaide.The bus pulled up to a wide open field, typical of dried Australian outback, complete with some forceful dustdevils. This was our chosen launchpad in the heat of Australian summer! One by one all 13 rockets were launched over two intense hours with anticipation at an all time high. The rockets were named:

  • Rocket McRocky Face
  • Revenge 3
  • SFR
  • Tiger
  • Eye of the Dragon
  • The Sky Serpent
  • Unity
  • JMAC
  • Bunny Bunny
  • I2C
  • Sharky
  • Adelaide Rocket Crows
  • Disco de l’Espace

To finish off the week we had our second culture night, in which Trinidad and Tobago, USA, UK, Ireland and China presented highlights of their cultures. From songs and dances to local phrases and foods, we were entertained and well fed!

Presentations finished, cue the music and the disco lights, everybody dance now! One of our dear participants, Chubin had his girlfriend Lingxi join us for the evening. With the room full of energy, she graced the floor with an enthralling Chinese dance, which, to everyone’s surprise was interrupted by Chubin dropping to one knee with a bunch of flowers. He proposed and she said yes!! Without warning I had thoughts of the floor falling through with the crowd jumping for joy! Get your hats out everyone, we have an SHSSP wedding to look forward to! Congratulations to Chubin and Lingxi! :)

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