Perchlorathon May 2005

May 21st, 2005

/ Lucerne Dry Lake

3 flights, 5194 N-sec burned

As summer begins to appear in California, the weather conditions just keep on improving. Though the morning appeared to be a blowout on the drive up with winds as high as 30 miles per hour less than five miles from the launch site, on the playa the breeze was still and the skies were blue. Prime conditions for another launch!

Flight 1: Jaguar, AT I218

The first flight for the day was my Jaguar. In an attempt to color-coordinate (and make Kathy Gilliand proud), the red rocket used an AT I218 Redline motor, with red tubular nylon and a red-and-white PML parachute. Prep went quickly, using only apogee deployment, and the rocket was on the pad in no time. The boost was fast with a significant wiggle - fins are a bit too small, I think - but the major problem developed about 1 second after burnout, when the delay burned through and ejected the parachute as the rocket was still traveling upwards at a good clip. This was an old reload, and I'm betting that the burning rate catalyst migrated from the propellant into the delay. The result was a 2" zipper down the side of the rocket - oh well.

Altitude: 1,900 ft

Flight 2: Thor, KBA K700

It was time for the long-anticipated first flight of the Thor. The blue and yellow bird had a 1400 Ns fast K700 packed into the motor mount tube, and my standard ARTS/RRC avionics package. Eric and I slid the rocket on the rail and installed a Thermite igniter, designed to get the rocket moving and up to speed fast. After a quick check for aircraft (none visible), we gave the count and hit the button. INSTANTLY the K700 came online and ripped the Thor skyward... so fast, in fact, that my dad (holding the camera) jumped backwards and dropped the video camera after liftoff. (Watch it, it's hilarious.) The rocket continued on an absolutely straight course, with very little roll. After burnout, it seemed to "sail" with all that fin area as it approached apogee. At ejection, something violent happened, as the shear pins on the nose cone broke and released the main at apogee. Dangit, 2/2 on main at apogee in the past two flights. Oh well. We watched it drift out and land about 1/2 mile away, easily visible on the playa. The altimeters were happily beeping out 5245 feet... just under a mile. Not bad for a first flight!

Altitude: 5,245 ft

Thor on a KBA K700

others: video

Flight 3: Nike Smoke, Kosdon L630

After last month's showing on the L1000 white motor, one would think that a plain old Kosdon Slow 3-grain motor would be rather boring. But hey, a flight is a flight, and a flight on an L motor is even better. Another Thermite igniter was installed for a good ignition, and once again we all found ourselves in the usual places - me on controller and PA, Eric on tracking, Steve on still camera, my dad on video, Frank supervising, and everyone else enjoying. 5...4...3...2...1... and the Nike instantly left the pad trailing four feet of orange fire. The long burn motor drove the bird up to 8269 feet - not too bad for a 3 grain motor. And this time at apogee, the addition of shear pins kept the nose cone where it was supposed to be. It was a long ride down to 800 feet, and then BANG, the main charge fired and the RocketRage Raspberry colored main canopy exploded open from the base of the nose cone like a psychedelic jellyfish. The Nike returned about 500 feet behind the flight line after another perfect flight.

Altitude: 8,269 ft

I like to design, build, and fly rockets. PostFlight started as a project to help me keep track of them. Now I've opened it up so you can follow along, too.
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