Nike Smoke

Nike Smoke
Length:76"Status:Repairs / 5 flights
Motor Mount:76mmBuild Dates:2004-12-01 to 2005-04-29

I have always loved the Nike-Smoke, and the 5.5" version from Polecat seemed just about the right size to test the 3-grain 76mm motors I had been hoarding. It's since gone on all sorts of adventures, including my first research L motor flight and my Level 3 certification flight. It met its demise on another 3-grain L flight in December of 2006, but it is currently being rebuilt with a 98mm motor mount for even crazier flying possibilities.


Event: Perchlorathon December 2006

Date: December 30th, 2006

Motor: PPL L875

Apogee: ~3,000 ft

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

others: preflight | higher

Event: Perchlorathon May 2006

Date: May 27th, 2006

Motor: AMW L700

Apogee: 5,384 ft

The Arcas did well on the 2-grain, so I figured the Nike would be perfect for a 3-grain Skid. Though it's not the best performing propellant (which you'd expect to want to show off to your professor), it does put on an awesome show, and that was my primary concern at this launch. The rocket was quickly prepped, and on the pad just as the 2 PM winds were beginning to come up. I called out the 5-count and the rocket lit right up, weathercocked into the wind, and headed skyward trailing fire, smoke, and brimstone. The drogue appeared at apogee, like it was supposed to, and the main stayed in place until the proper deployment altitude of 1000 feet. It had weathercocked far enough upwind and the main ejected low enough that we actually had to walk *upwind* to recover the vehicle; that was weird. But it was an awesome flight!

Event: ROCStock 22

Date: November 13th, 2005

Motor: AT M1297

Apogee: 10,747 ft

I put off my L3 flight until Sunday so I could pull a stint at LCO and RSO; now that I was qualified there was nobody to stop me! Prep on Sunday morning was relaxed. My TAPs (Ron McGough and Andy Woerner) gave the Nike the once-over before I carried it up to the RSO desk, where I was greeted by Kurt Gugisberg. He signed my red card after another inspection, and I headed to Pad 39A to load up. (Another childhood dream: certify L3 off 39A. I got totally lucky that Leslie brought the pad to the launch!) Loading on the rail went smoothly, and I armed the avionics and raised the bird vertical. (Both units were baro, so the orientation change didn't affect anything.) Rick O'Neill was the LCO, and he let me push the button again, so Eric was on camera duty. He chose an interesting angle - you can see my TAPs looking at the rocket as it's leaving the pad (along with everyone else at the launch, except who looks from the back to be John Wahlquist at the registration table! =)) Liftoff was immediate and authoritative, and the rocket tore into the sky on the trademark White Lightning plume. I knew the rocket could do four grains of WL propellant, but still, the "dance" it did as it approached Mach freaked me out. It held together, though, and deployed the chute right at apogee - L3, baby!

Event: Perchlorathon May 2005

Date: May 21st, 2005

Motor: Kosdon L630

Apogee: 8,269 ft

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.

Event: Perchlorathon April 2005

Date: April 16th, 2005

Motor: PPL L1100

Apogee: 10,623 ft

I had originally planned to put the Nike up on a 54/1400 K700F, but we had a 4700 N-sec white load to fly, and the Nike did have a 3" motor mount, twist my arm =) We put it on the pad, and after arming electronics, installed a Thermite igniter 2/3 of the way up the back end of the motor, hoping to get it off the pad nice and quick. Check for aircraft, and announce the flight. We're the biggest thing at the launch today. 5...4...3...2...1... I slam down the button. The copper thermite fired happily, blowing the rocket 6" in the air, but the motor didn't ignite. Hmph. We replaced it with one of Peter&Steve's "Satan Spawn" igniters that they had been using to light their AN motors. After a recycle of the cameras and another aircraft check, I called out the count again, and this time, the motor lit up with authority, and pounded my poor, brand new Nike into the sky. It toyed with Mach (1107 ft/sec) and coasted to apogee, where the drogue and main appeared (note to self: back off on apogee charge next time). It drifted down on the lakebed about a mile out, the RRC beeping out 10,623 feet. Not bad for a first flight!

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