Perchlorathon December 2006

December 30th, 2006

/ Lucerne Dry Lake

1 flight, 3500 N-sec burned

Frank's launch for December fell on the next to last possible day to fly rockets for the year. The weather was fantastic -- clear, calm, and cool, with the best lighting for rocket photography I've seen in a long time. Hulan was there rockin' some AWESOME flights, and I put the Nike up on its fateful last flight in its first incarnation. Overall, it was a fantastic day, punctuated by good times at the Lucerne Chinese place at sunset.

Flight 1: Nike Smoke, PPL L875

Eric and I had cast up a 3 grain 76mm load of our Blue Devil propellant, with the expectation that it'd be a pretty sweet motor for my Nike Smoke. The Blue Devil propellant runs pretty hot, so I procured a set of canvas phenolic liners for the hardware, and used one in this load for extra heat protection. Prep went smoothly and the rocket was on the pad by 2 PM or so. Hulan counted down and the blue motor lit up with authority -- the Nike cranked off the pad and into the sky with a bit of spin, but flying a beautifully straight trajectory. The blue flame was INTENSE with several shock diamonds visible. Then, suddenly, about three seconds into the burn, the rocket took a hard turn to the north and rapidly disassembled itself. From the ground it looked like a shred, but I had just flown the Nike on an M1297, so I knew it was capable of more. After the wreckage returned, the culprit was discovered: the nozzle had cracked in between the o-rings, exposing the case wall to a hot gas jet and blowing a hole at the nozzle joint. A side panel of the rocket was blown off, and the rest was history. Oh well, it's rocketry, what could go wrong. The upper airframe, nose cone, avionics, and parachute were easily recovered, and the best part is that rebuilding lets you put in a bigger motor mount!
Nike Smoke on a PPL L875

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