USLI Demo

January 30th, 2011

/ Ash Grove Site

1 flight, 5615 N-sec burned

Purdue has a USLI team, and they desperately needed to fly their test rocket before their design review. Since the review fell between regular monthly launches, we called in a waiver on a beautiful, windless morning to allow them to test their rocket. In addition to helping the team fly their first high power rocket, I got in one "demo" flight of my Competitor 4.

Flight 1: Competitor 4, PPL M1400

The M1400 motor had been prepared back in December for a flight in Dark Energy, but the weather conspired with GPS problems to prevent that flight from happening. Flash forward to the end of January; we're projected to have a windless day at Ash Grove on Sunday, so why not put it up? I swapped over to flying the motor in my Competitor 4, to give me an excuse to fly it again. Since the weather in winter seems to have a pattern of clear mornings and cloudy afternoons, I prepped the entire airframe the night before, and so on-site prep was once again minimal; I turned on the BRB GPS, hooked up the quick links, and put her on the pad. GPS lock was quickly achieved, and so after perilously balancing on Vic's trunk to arm the avionics (no ladders today?), installing the igniter, and alerting the prepping SLI team of the impending M flight, we were set to go. The sky was blue and there was not a breath of wind, and following a five-count, the motor lit cleanly and the Competitor 4 roared into the air atop five feet of orange shock diamonds. (MAJOR h/t to Tom Feldman for letting me pull an all-nighter last month making the nozzle on his lathe; check out the Mach disk in Allen Yan's awesome photo!) Shutdown was absolutely clean with neither a hiccup nor burp, and the rocket began its silent coast to apogee. I hadn't installed a smoke grain, so I gave up hope of visual tracking, turning instead to the GPS receiver for information; it regained lock on the way up, reporting apogee at over 4000 meters, and the continued readings indicated that recovery was in progress. After we lost signal, Vic offered me a ride to the landing site just down the road. Recovery was successful, though it appears the avbay crashed into the booster at some point during the descent, smooshing the aft bulkhead into the coupler and causing some hairline cracks. Oh well, nothing a little fiberglass can't fix. And not bad for a quick flight to over 14,800'!

Altitude: 14,864 ft

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