Meanwhile, Out in the Desert . . .

Josh writes . . . 

All right, here are some pictures from yesterday’s (the 23rd) rocket-flying trip. It was breezy tending to windy at the launch site, but we did see several successful launches and recoveries. We also saw some suboptimal flights.

The desert southwest. This is pretty much it, for miles and miles. Remember the scene from The Right Stuff, when all the pilots moved to Edwards AFB to fly X-planes? That overstated the beauty of the area. This is near the lovely towns of North Edwards and Aerial Acres and California City.

This will become my uncle’s Level 3 certification rocket. The body tube is a 12″ concrete form, and the motor mount is the 4″ tube in the middle.

Here are the nose cone and the motor casing for the body tube above. The motor casing is 4″ in diameter and the nose cone is three feet long from tip to shoulder – that is, not including the portion that will fit inside the body tube.

Here’s the nose cone stacked on top of the body tube. Assembled height is about 7 feet. This will fly on a strong M motor. The expected thrust is about 750 pounds for something like 4 seconds. That’s my uncle with the ball cap in the background, assembling an I motor for his first launch of the day.

This is the first rocket of the day – a Sidewinder model built by another club member. The engine used in this one did not provide a lot of thrust early, so it did not clear the tower with enough speed to fly stably. As a result, it turned into the wind and proceeded roughly parallel to the ground for several thousand feet before crashing, shattering the body tube.

The second launch of the day – a Patriot model. This was the first high-power launch by the builder, and flew beautifully. The rocket was recovered successfully and undamaged. The builder earned his L1 certification.

This is my uncle’s I-powered rocket ready for its first launch. He had a J he could have used, but the I seemed like a better idea given the wind. According to the altimeter, this got to about 3600 feet. A perfect flight and recovery. This rocket is rigged for a dual deploy, with one charge firing at apogee to deploy the drogue and another firing at about 1200 feet AGL to open the main chute.

After recovery, he set this one up for a second launch, which was less successful. Although the drogue fired just fine, the main did not deploy and the rocket made a hard landing. There was some damage to the nose cone and the altimeter, but the rocket was otherwise unscathed and will fly again.

Another rocket from another builder on the pad. This one was rigged for a time delay, motor-based ejection. Launch was beautiful, but the ejection charge did not fire in time, and the rocket hit the ground nose first at high speed. Impact was maybe 1000 yards from the pad, and it hit so hard it was clearly audible.

And this is another way they come back to earth.


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