November 16, 2003

Launch Report - 03/11/15

After a windy and rainy week, the weatherman was predicting a beautiful weekend. Except for being a little colder than expected, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Even the traffic cooperated, and I made it to the launch site in record time. I'd planned to show up early to help set up the flying range anyway. About 15 minutes after I got there, the equipment trailer arrived and we got to work.

More help arrived and soon we had things ready to go. We had 7 low-power pads for Estes-sized stuff, a pair of pads slightly farther away for mid-power, and four high-power pads set up out away from the crowd.

We had a great crowd for this launch. There were several Team America teams from various schools, testing prototype egg-lofters. I've talked about them before, do a search of this site on 'Team America' for more info. I helped one group out who had never before flown a rocket. They showed up with a basic rocket, and I walked them through the prep and check-in after which they made a successful flight. They're going to do fine, they asked a lot of questions and spent the day watching people set up and fly more complex rockets. We also had a group of Boy Scouts. Lots and lots of kids, which is great.

There was also a reporter from the Wall Street Journal there, researching an article on recent government regulations and overreaction against various activities. I don't know when the article will appear or if he'll even mention it, but he got the whole story of the Air Munuviana and watched her with us.

First up for me was my original high-power rocket, an upscale of the old Centuri Groove Tube. I flew her on an H128 White Lightning motor for a perfect crowd-pleasing flight. Because the wind was so light, I put a 45" parachute on her and she managed to drift about a mile. I had to cross an icy-cold running spillway to get to the field she was in, and got glared at by some hunters in the treelines. On the way back, I hiked past a small pond and saw a beautiful swan floating there peaceful as could be. I took a couple of pictures with my crappy digital camera, but they don't do it justice.

That motor was my last solid-propellant high-power motor, and I needed to burn the rest of my stock before the first of the year, thanks to the BATFE and their ever-changing interpretation of the rules and regulations. (This paragraph brought to you by the 'hyphen'. Yay!)

Time for the Air Munuviana! Because of the complexity of this rocket, I have a checklist that I follow during the prep work, and I did do a couple of practice runs at home too. The nice thing about the checklist is that I can see exactly where I stopped if I get interupted, and with the number of folks at the launch, I got interupted often by people asking questions.

Oh yeah, the kids dubbed her the "Cow Rocket" and she drew great attention and lots of 'wows' even before flight.

I put together the hybrid motor (my first ever without assistance) and she was ready to fly. We took her out to the pad and pictures were taken. A minor problem with the nitrous venting was corrected and the countdown began.

Beauty! She took off straight as an arrow, coasted for a good while, and just after arching over at apogee the chute ejected perfectly and she floated down to a perfect landing about 200' from the pads.

That was so much fun, let's do it again! I hustled back to the truck and started to get Air Mu ready for another flight. That first one was on an H70, and I'd just gotten a new I80, which is twice as powerful and burns twice as long. Quick cleanup of the engine casing from the first flight, disassemble the electronics and reset everything for the next flight, put together the new motor and we're on our way out to the pads again. Once again shouts of "Cow Rocket!" are heard.

Everything goes smoothly this time with the nitrous fill and venting, but at ignition something goes wrong. The rocket is undamaged, and in fact it never left the pad. Back to the truck we go, amid many awwws and even a moooo or two.

Taking apart the motor showed us what happened. The pressure of the filling nitrous pushed the pre-heater grain down too far and when it ignited the nitrous just dumped out the nozzle instead of combusting with the fuel grain. Very rare, but not unheard of.

I didn't have enough time to try for another flight, since we had plans. So for the day, Air Munuviana successfully made her maiden flight, and managed to not kill anyone with an accident on the pad (to any government agents reading this, that is a joke. see Websters.).

Next scheduled launch is December 13th, depending on weather.

Now for the pictures. Remember I mentioned 'crappy digital camera'? I didn't get a liftoff shot of the Air Munuviana. Several other people were also taking pictures, so if anyone sends me some good ones, I'll post them. What I did post in the extended entry are three shots.

Part of the crowd, taken from the away pads where the Air Munuviana (and other high-power rockets) were launched.

Air Mu on the pad, with Doug Pratt hooking up the nitrous connection. This was just prior to her successful maiden flight.

Descent under parachute. You can't judge scale in the photo, but that's a 36" parachute, and you can see the rocket hanging underneath.

Posted by Ted at November 16, 2003 08:57 AM | TrackBack

Cool! Let us know if the WSJ article mentions you!

Posted by: Susie at November 16, 2003 09:52 AM

"Cow Rocket!" Fabulous!

Ted, I hope you got my note before you left for the field. You have no idea how disappointed I was to not make it to the launch.

Posted by: Victor at November 16, 2003 10:14 AM


This is so cool...

Posted by: Stevie at November 16, 2003 12:05 PM

Woo hoo! Too bad about the second flight, though. BTW, do you know what altitude Air Munuviana probably reached? How high might Cow Rocket have gone on that second flight?

Posted by: Tuning Spork at November 16, 2003 04:48 PM

That is so neat. :)

Posted by: LeeAnn at November 16, 2003 05:59 PM

That's one small step for man, and a giant leap for Munu-ind.

Great work.

Posted by: Simon at November 16, 2003 11:57 PM
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