I Shot A Rocket Into The Air, It Fell to Earth, I Know Not Where…….

Launch 2010_2.jpg
With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Bullwinkle the Moose, that was pretty much the case in Elsberry, MO last Saturday.
S&T’s Advanced Aero Vehicle Group spent that beautiful fall afternoon running a rocketry workshop to do three things: familiarize the new members with the parts and methods that go into building a high-power rocket, to get those interested in membership to pass their Level 1 certification, and have fun! NASA’s University Student Launch Initiative hosts an annual fly-off, but it you want to play, you have to be certified as at least Level 2, cause they frown on rockets “impacting” in the public viewing areas. Level 1 simply means that it flies on an H or I motor, and you get it back in a recognizable form and then work toward Level 2. Launch-pad explosions don’t count.
various rockets 2010.jpg
Team leader David Althuis reports that “all but two of our L1 rockets flew, but one had a motor malfunction resulting in a launch-pad torch, the other we couldn’t find when it drifted way off into a corn field.”
“Jason Brown was going for Level 2, where you have to pass a written quiz and then fly a rocket designed to fly on a bigger “motor”. He flew on a J350 but had electronic malfunction that opened the chute at 900 feet on the way up while the motor was still burning.” editor’s note, it wasn’t pretty.
“My rocket flew on a K540 to 6000 ft and separated but the main chute failed to deploy and it fell into a corn field at about 80-90 mph. The carbon fiber tubes held up nicely but one of the plywood fins snapped. Minimal damage for falling from over a mile!”
“We were the only university group there, and more than doubled the attendance of the launch. Two other guys tried to fly a 12-foot-tall rocket, but it broke apart as it reached Mach 1.”
Trips like these build teamwork, and give the students real build/launch experience. Last spring bad weather prevented many of S&T’s test launches so they couldn’t sort out the ‘chute deployment issues. Getting a head start in the fall should result in better team performance at the USLI at Huntsville, Alabama next spring.
Bonus stories:
When the green-clad horde arrived at Elsberry, the event manager was overwhelmed and wouldn’t let AAVG launch due to a paperwork problem, and once that was resolved the Miners couldn’t use their own custom-built launch pad because (get this!), the engineering (guffaw!) was uncertain. But by the end of the day the other rocketeers were heard to remark “if you want a good flight, use S&T’s launch platform!” Guess they settled THAT engineering issue!
Jason Brown wants to add a special thanks to Mark Grant of the Columbia Rocket Club for coming out to help. He was a great help with paper work and getting people ready to have their rockets inspected. The day would not have been nearly as successful without him. Also, a tip o’ the hat to Chris Short of CS Rocketry, who helped us obtain all the rocket kits and supplies on short notice.
Mark also sent this note to the AAVG team:
“You came well prepared with a very good group of students, a well-behaved and well-mannered group. You had a great L1 rocket design, great choice of materials, good assembly skills and nice flights. You are to be congratulated.”
Thank you, Mark!