Using Kilometers and Meters Instead of Miles and Feet

For our first launch, we reported all our height data in feet, because in the United States, that’s what most people are used to.  Our ballooncraft got up to over 78,000 feet, or to be more precise, it reached a maximum height of 78,471 feet.

However, our flight computer actually measured height using the metric system, in meters.  It told us the maximum height was 23,918 meters; we converted it to 78,471 feet.  It also measured temperature in Celcius and pressure in Pascals.

When we visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, we learned that they had switched everything to the Metric System instead of the English or Imperial system, which most of the United States still uses.  It turns out there are apparently only three countries in the world who don’t use the Metric System: Liberia, Burma, and the United States.  We don’t understand why we don’t use the Metric System. 10, 100, 1000 seems so much easier.

The JPL engineers told us that in 1999, there was a spacecraft that went to Mars, but when they tried to put it into orbit, it crashed because one of the parts was made using English measurements while everything else was made using Metric measurements.  Oops!

So, from now on, we’re going to try to use the Metric system for our launches because that’s what all the space agencies use.  Maybe we’ll provide both figures so the people who use the English system will understand what we’re talking about.

Visiting Vulcan Aerospace

Vulcan Aerospace was one of the places we got to visit after our first launch.  It began when Cassie Lee, Director at Vulcan Aerospace Corp, came up to us during the Geekwire Summit and introduced herself.  She invited us to visit Vulcan in Downtown, Seattle. where we met several members of the Aerospace, Technology and Education teams. We all sat in a big conference room with them and they asked us a few questions about our launch.

After we talked about the Loki Lego Launcher and showed them our project binder with all our stuff, they showed us a 3-D model of their space craft. It is a double body Boeing 747 with six engines, and it’s called the Stratolaunch.  It is being built in California right now, but when it is complete, it will have the widest wingspan of any airplane in the world.

It’s designed to not waste fuel powering rockets to take off from the ground, but rather, it will carry rockets high in the air, and will allow them to take off from there.

It was really interesting to learn about their model, and we really appreciated how they talked to us like we were adults!

Visiting University of Washington

We were invited to visit the Computer Science and Engineering department at the University of Washington.  They took us on an amazing tour! We loved playing with the robot that they made called Rosie. We liked learning about all the different parts of Rosie. It was fun to make her do things we tell it to, like picking up cups.

We also liked Beam, the robot that would move around where you wanted it to go.  It showed the face of the person who was controlling Beam at the same time as displaying what was in front of it.

There are so many neat things going on at UW CS&E; it was fun to learn about all of the things that robots can do.  Plus, it is all happening right in our own back yard!