At the start of the day it seemed like it should all
be so easy. Ellen and Ian's parachute worked and needs
about five metres to deploy. My rocket which went up
over 20 metres and Mike B and Jonathan's rockets may
have even got even higher. So putting a parachute and
rocket together should have been easy. We "just"
had to find some way to make sure the parachute got
deployed at the top of the rocket's path.
"Just" ... We thought it should be easy,
and it just wouldn't do it. Either the cap holding the
parachute came off too early and didn't make it to the
top of the trajectory; or it stuck determinedly on.
We tried all sorts of different ways of fixing it,
gently reducing and increasing the friction between
the cap of the parachute and the rocket. Ian, unable
to resist incorporating rock into the final design,
started throwing dirt onto the whole rocket, to increase
the friction between the cap and rocket body.
The production team really wanted me to build
a better launcher. A better launcher would mean we could
get to higher water pressures, which would mean the
rocket would go higher, which would be more dramatic.
But I thought, "What's the point?". We have
to crack the parachute deployment mechanism first, or
we'll lose the egg whatever height we get to.
Absurd to get so het up and excited about something
as ridiculous as an egg ... but that's how it goes with
this series. We all care so much about making it work
- the programmes, the challenges, for the science to
be shown clearly - that we'll go to insane lengths for
small things. I worry a lot about it all ending up too
much like a 'Famous Five', with so much enthusiasm and
eagerness. We're all so damn goodie-goodie. But we can
hardly pretend not to care; we all do so much!
It's been an astonishing trip - almost everyone, even
the two film crews who do "trips" for a living,
is saying it's the best work trip they've ever been
on. Truly special. So, whether 'Famous Five' or not,
I hope the passion we all feel for it comes over in
the series. Without us all seeming like mad scientists.
And – in the last vestiges of warm evening light,
we try for real. We have one attempt. The parachute
has only deployed a couple of times at the top of the
rocket’s flight...and that was without the egg
in the rocket. We’re unconvinced it’ll work
when it’s for real. But, we can’t stay perfecting
it all night.
... and it works. The parachute flies, the egg survives,
and I can almost weep with delight at this special feat,
done with this special bunch of people.