From 26 June to 30 June we were in Granada, Spain, to represent Germany in the European final of the CanSat competition against 25 other nations.
Already on Sunday, one day before the start of the launch campaign, we flew to Granada to be able to relax a bit before the start. Of course, we made sure to expand our public relations work internationally until the last minute before the launch campaign (so other teams even found out about us before the launch campaign). There was not much more work to be done on CanSat, but ordering food on the Spanish Dominos website was really a task in itself!
Today we arrived at our accommodation in Granada, the Novaschool Medina Elvira. First we had to get to know the other teams over a nice BBQ and find our place of work in the accommodation for the coming week. The accommodation is full of interesting surprises.
The real programme started! Together with all the other teams, we went to the Parque de las ciencias. There we had our first presentation in front of the jury, as well as the technical inspection to get the flight permit in the first place. Our presentation went very well for the most part - only getting used to the other language is of course a considerable difference that you have to adjust to. We were able to pass the technical inspection without any problems, as we had tested our satellite intensively beforehand to ensure that it met the required criteria. Only the drop test, which is used to check the drop speed, didn't work the first time because our parachute didn't deploy properly. But after a small change of the parachute size, the second (and last allowed) run-up worked. Now we were ready for tomorrow's rocket launch!
Finally, the time has come! Today was the launch day and our satellite finally flew. The extremely hot weather of about 40 °C really got to us. But unfortunately it didn't just stay with us, it also hit our satellite, which heated up the enclosed space of the rocket to about 60 °C air temperature even before the launch. This caused our satellite to overheat and enter a "restart loop", in which the satellite permanently restarts itself and does not record any proper data. As a result, our satellite only recorded a two-second video, mid-fall. When we picked up the satellite in the field 10 minutes after launch and turned it on again only from then on, it worked perfectly. Since our CanSat in the national competition had already not worked as planned, we were naturally very frustrated. In the evening, we set about a more detailed error analysis and examined exactly which component was bringing the satellite into the "restart loop". In addition, together with Dr. Stoffels, we video-called a forest fire risk analysis of the fields and the forest near the launch site in order to present the results at tomorrow's presentation.
Only the final presentation was left today. With only a little sleep, we were still able to deliver it confidently. We received a lot of direct positive feedback not only from the jury, but also from other teams for a rehearsed, professional presentation. Maybe the ESA livestream from that time is still online, and the presentation can be seen from 2:51:10 in the stream "Final Presentations Afternoon" here. In the evening, the "judged", "serious" part of the week was finally over, so we rounded up many teams and sang some karaoke.
Today was the award ceremony and a farewell end to the week. We can proudly claim to have received one of the four prizes for the evaluation categories public relations, professionalism, scientificity and technical achievements: We were chosen as the most professional team! Needless to say, we are very proud of this award and are happy that our work over the last nine months is recognised as such. After an afternoon tour of the city, we naturally made sure to create a good atmosphere in the evening. Together with the other teams, we celebrated not only the exhausting week, but also the last months properly and then flew home in the night.
This week certainly didn't go according to plan and yet here we are and we can say it was successful. We had all the reasons in the world to throw in the towel and give up at almost every point this week (and also during the week of the German launch campaign). But that was never an option for us. We always fought on, no matter how bad things looked, until the end - and it paid off.
Even regardless of our success, this week was a real highlight to the months of work before. The exchange with students from Japan, Canada, Sweden, or anywhere else, was a unique experience that we are very grateful to be a part of.
It has been a truly incredible nine months, with so many ups and downs, meeting so many new people from all different backgrounds - this time has really shaped us all. It's almost hard to believe that so suddenly this project is over - no deadline coming up again soon - no stress about some new problem that has arisen - just relaxation. We have to realise that now.
The completion of the finale marks the end of an extraordinary journey. So it is very important for us to thank all those who have supported us on our way: Our friends and families who have always stood by us; our school and caretakers, for their endless patience during our late-night work sessions; the experts in spaceflight and spectroscopic analysis who have enriched us with their expertise; as well as the organisers of the CanSat competition and especially our generous sponsors whose support has made this trip possible. Our heartfelt thanks are due to you all.