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# <a name="Usenix Trip Report"></a> Usenix Trip Report

This is a preliminary report on the PSAS visit to the [Usenix Annual Technical Conference](, June 10-14 2003. I filled in my recollections to get started: hopefully [[AndrewGreenberg]], [[BrianONeel]], [[TedHavelka]], and [[KeithPackard]] will fix up and add. <br />-- [[BartMassey]] - 17 Jun 2003

Also see Andrew's trip report for [[news/2003-06-12]]. -- [[JamesPerkins]] - 17 Jun 2003


Keith and I arrived on Tuesday, June 10. Everyone at Usenix seemed quite excited to have the team there. Wednesday afternoon Andrew arrived with the avionics, as well as my student Raya Budrevich, who was there to hear the paper she co-authored with me presented and to check out the conference. Brian and Ted arrived with the rocket at about 2AM that evening, having been delayed some. The Usenix folks didn't seem to have understood about the late arrival, and were nervous that the rocket arrive. (After all, they had generously payed for costs of transport and housing for the students.)

Thursday morning, the tower was set up just as the exhibit hall opened. The exhibit hall arrangement essentially was a circle of small booths against the wall, together with the rocket display in the center: definitely a position of prominence. The hotel staff gave a hassle about extending the tower without outriggers (something about over 10' and OSHA rules), but Ted managed to find perfect materials at the Home Depot for both tower outriggers and a stand for LV1, which had also come along for the ride. The resulting display was quite impressive, actually.

There were a number of minor electrical problems: Andrew diagnosed a loose inductor in the ATV downlink, and quickly soldered it together---an amazing soldering job. Later, when soldering batteries into the avionics module, he ran out of butane: fortunately, the cigar shop in the mall attached to the hotel had both butane and a lighter.

While we were setting up, Neal Stephenson, who had given the keynote address and was setting up for a book signing, came over and chatted with us for a bit, which was pretty cool. He also had a bunch of rocket background, and the discussion was technical enough to remind me that science fiction writers often know about things like rockets :-).

The first guests in seemed quite enthused about the rocket, if not quite as awed as the typical crowd. Most of the Usenix folks had messed around with amateur rocketry, avionics, aerospace, etc. Both the exhibitors and exhibitees learned quite a bit from each other. Ted, Brian, and Andrew spent basically all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday babysitting the rocket: Keith and I felt bad about that, but had a large number of other duties.

Friday night featured a PSAS-hosted rocketry BOF. The Usenix "Birds-Of-a-Feather" sessions are an opportunity for interest groups to gather informally in a defined space and time---they can be huge fun. We got great technical questions, and spent more than the allotted two hours with little waning of interest by the attendees.

Saturday morning (IIRC) Andrew presented the PSAS paper. He definitely got "best paper presentation" of anything I saw. The talk drew one of the larger crowds of the (unfortunately lightly-attended) conference. A plan to take the IMU to the amusement park to ride roller coasters failed to pan out, but on Sunday Andrew, Ted, Brian, and Amy (Brian's wife, who had by now joined us) went to Marshall Space Center for the day. Keith and I got on the plane and flew home, and that was that.


There's so many folks to thank that I don't know where to start. Brian and Amy for driving the rocket around, as well as Ted and Andrew for minding the store. The Usenix folks, who were incredibly helpful and pleasant. Most of all, thanks to the rest of the PSAS team, who labored like hell beforehand to make this all possible. We're going to be in great shape for Black Rock this year, and it's going to be huge fun!