June 03, 2006

Launch Report - 6/3/06

Today was supposed to be a nice day, darn it! It was ok, nothing more than that, but the worst thing was that it was windy all day long. We launch rockets in the rain, we'll launch in the snow and cold, but wind stops us every time. The safety rules say that 20mph is the cutoff point. That's reasonable, because 20mph is a heckuva blow.

Today there were gusts to 17mph (that I heard of), and there were few lulls.

I had several things going on today at the rocket launch. First up, I'd volunteered to help with a CanSat competition. Eight college teams from around the country were making flights with identical high-power rockets, and at apogee their experimental payloads were ejected under parachute. These payloads were GPS units that sent telemetry back to the ground, where it was picked up by a YAGI antenna (I think that's what it's called) and fed into a laptop for recording and analysis.

Eight successful flights, but big... no, huge... HUGE, drift because of the wind. One team recovered their cansat almost three miles downwind.

I helped to prep a couple of the rockets, and later did a shift at the high-power pads doing launch control duties.

I finished that up just in time to grab a quick bite (PBJ, food of the gods) before a coworker of mine arrived with her nieces and nephews. Sammy and William each prepped a rocket with me, while Miranda decided she'd rather not. She claimed not to like loud, noisy things, which is understandable with two brothers, eh?

So we three got rockets ready to fly, pictures were taken, and we went to the launch area. Once the rockets were on the pads, one by one they were launched, after the Launch Control Officer read the important information over the PA system, including the fact that this was Sammy's first launch with NOVAAR and William's first rocket ever.

The flights went well, and afterwards the kids and I went out to the field to recover them (darn wind!). I gave Sammy and William their rockets to keep, which might seem like a nice thing to do, but it's really very selfish of me. See, by giving away two rockets, I'll have to build two more in order to keep my display rack full.

Hopefully they'll be back at another launch soon.

Other than that, not much happened all day. I broke one rocket (my Odin's Spear) when the wind blew it off the table and I didn't see it. Stepped backwards right onto it. I also had a stabilizer snap off of an Edmonds rocket glider, but that's already on the workbench, glue drying from the repair.

Mandatory stats stuff for my records:

1. BolAeroZ - B6-4 - this Shrox plan features an asymetrical fin planform and today there was just too much wind for it. It was only marginally stable, but was high enough not to be dangerous. I suggested that if Sammy and his dad cut the forwardmost fins off, then the rocket would fly much better.

2. Air Guitar - B6-4 - William liked this rocket for the paint job (so did the the LCO), which was patterned after Eddie Van Halen's guitar, hence the name. A very nice flight, recovered safely on a streamer.

3. Groove Tube - B6-4 - This flight was mine, and it was it's usual beautiful boost. Tube fins tend to not be as affected by the wind, at least on the way up. She drifted quite a bit farther than the other two rockets because she went much higher.

And that was it for me for the day. One actual flight made. Darn wind. I still had big fun, because rockets and kids go together like PBJ.

Posted by Ted at June 3, 2006 07:59 PM | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

I really am going to launch rockets this year. One of these launch dates I will claim to be mine and I will flee my home with a carload of stuff for the entire day. ::sigh::

Posted by: Maelstrom at June 6, 2006 10:02 AM
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