Computer Issues and an Update

I'm posting today from a school computer. I regret to announce that my computer is almost permanently disabled. It has a problem where it begins to boot up and immediately shuts off. Some computer geeks at school (that is, geekier than me) are going to see what they can do, but there isn't much hope. My posts will probably become rather infrequent or irregular... But here's an update:

Our TARC entry is nearing completion. I'd post some pictures, but I don't have any. We're hoping to get at least 10 test flights done before March. We also have a few new members, making a total of seven. Now that my computer is on the fritz, our computations are going to be rather crude, or nonexistent. But the more test flights we do, the closer we can get to 825 ft and 40 seconds, RockSim notwithstanding.


Celebrating 100 Posts of Blogging Excellence

Happy 100th-post-reading!

Our progress in rocket team has come to a stand still until we can obtain a few supplies. I'm not in the middle of any other projects right now, and all I am doing these days is learning calculus, physics, chemistry, and some topics in trigonometry that wasn't even covered in class. I'm not even in a class for chemistry, I'm trying to learn as much of it as I can on my own because I'm taking an SAT subject test in December. Somebody's not going to have a life..." as my former chemistry teacher put it. And oh boy is he right.

So if I don't post anything for a week, you'll know why.


Eggsperiment Results

Egg Shell Durability


A good test of a model rocket’s ability is to fly a raw hen’s egg in its payload compartment and retrieve it unharmed. It is a scalable feature for people in spacecraft. But just like a space agency will pick and choose its astronauts to minimize the potential of injury or unconsciousness, certain eggs will hold up better than others in a model rocket at seven g’s.


  • Store-bought large grade A hen eggs
  • Homegrown leghorn (white)
  • Homegrown barred rock (brown) 
  • Homegrown araucana (green)
  • Or any other type of chicken egg you have at your disposal
  • Modeling clay, sand, or ballast of your choice 
  • Big bowl
  • Triple-beam balance

(a) Place egg under big bowl.
(b) Gently place more ballast into bowl until egg breaks (gently because you don’t want more acceleration than 9.8 m/s2).
(c) Weigh the ballast and the bowl.
(d) Repeat for each type of egg.


(#Test, egg type, mass held when crushed)
  1. Store-bought egg from Aldi: 2712g = 2.712kg
  2. Store-bought egg from Aldi: 2296g = 2.296kg
  3. Brown: 3128g = 3.128kg
  4. Brown: 3336g = 3.336kg
  5. White: 3636g = 3.636kg
  6. White: 4493g = 4.493kg
  7. Green: 3534g = 3.534kg
  8. Green: 3169g = 3.169kg

Average force to crush Aldi eggs:
F = (m*g + m*g)/2 = (2.296kg*9.8m/s/s + 2.712kg*9.8m/s/s)/2 = 24.50N

Average force to crush brown eggs:
F = (3.128kg*9.8m/s/s + 3.336kg*9.8m/s/s)/2 = 31.67N

Average force to crush white eggs:
F = (3.636kg*9.8m/s/s + 4.493kg*9.8m/s/s)/2 = 39.83N

Average force to crush green eggs:
F = (3.534kg*9.8m/s/s + 3.169kg*9.8m/s/s)/2 = 32.84N


No space agency would pick an astronaut that blacks out at 4g's. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to choose an egg that will scramble in its payload compartment if a force of just 24.5 Newtons is applied to it.


Therefore, for maximum flight performance, the egg with the best qualifications is laid by the white leghorn. Moreover, a farm-fresh white leghorn egg should be used. The ratio of Newtons held by farm-fresh leghorn and Newtons held by Aldi egg is a staggering 1.63.



In case you were curious about the previous two problems but didn't exactly know where to start, here are a few tips:

  1. Start with the law of cosines. You need it for the distance between the two planes. Take the derivative of the law of cosines with respect to time. You want to know da/dt (a being the distance between the two planes).
  2. First find theta one and theta two. You need to find the net force on the system, which would be the force of m2 minus the force of m1. You might want to draw a free body diagram for each mass, and don't forget friction. You'll need the formula for friction, and a few Newtonian mechanics equations. Good luck!


Challenging Problems

You're good if you can get these two:

  1. Two planes are flying at 32,000 feet moving directly toward a point above a control tower. The first plane is 100 miles from being directly above the tower and the second is 220 miles from being directly over the tower. The angle between them is 120 degrees. If the first plane is moving at 320 mph and the second plane is moving at 400 mph, how fast is the distance between the two planes decreasing (see figure 1)?
  2. A system is positioned on a ramp according to figure 2. The mass of m1 is equal to 8.0 kg and the mass of m2 is equal to 23.0 kg. m1 is pulled directly upwards by a magnet with a force of 8.5 N. The coefficient of kinetic friction μ for m1 is 0.370. μ for m2 is 0.289. (a) Find the acceleration of the system. (b) How much time will it take for m1 to reach the top of the ramp?
Figure 1:
(Click to enlarge)

Figure 2:
(Click to enlarge)

The latter of the two is one I made up myself. It's easy to make up physics problems... but solving them is another story.

I'll tell you right now that the first one is not solvable without knowledge of trig formulas and calculus. The second problem just requires basic trig knowledge (SOHCAHTOA), and kinematic equations.

I'll post hints sometime this week, and will hopefully have the solutions all worked out by next weekend!


The Chickens are Laying!

Don't be alarmed, I'm not ready for the funny farm, but I really am excited. You see, I'd started some research on the strength of the shell of various egg options for the TARC contest, but I couldn't finish it until the chickens started laying eggs. So far I've discovered that a typical store-bought "large grade A" hen egg can withstand about 24N of force before cracking. I now have three more possibilities: white, brown, or green.


Rocket Team Update

Our rocket team at school has been making some great progress in preparation for Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) 2010! We "finalized" our RockSim design, and are now going to start collecting parts. I made a fiberglass transition piece this afternoon, and considering that I always have trouble with the fiberglass and epoxy getting everywhere, I think it turned out rather nicely. One of the kids' (there are four of us, three freshmen and me), grandpa has a lathe, and he's going to see about making a few balsa nosecones for our project.

As we build it I'll be sure to post pictures of its progress. I've also been getting goofy doing mini research papers on the durability of certain types of eggs. I'm very fortunate to have three kinds of chickens at my disposal.


Iowa State University

Our trip down to Iowa State University was very informative! They're known for their engineering, and once they finish the new biosystems engineering building, they will have the largest engineering complex in the world.

Iowa State has a giant subsonic wind tunnel that seniors and graduate students use for their projects.

The freshman class is building an aerobat plane that will be entered in an Oshkosh airshow.

Inside the tornado shaped structure is the highest resolution virtual reality device in the world. On the right is a picture of some lonely old high-power rocket sitting in the corner of one of the aerospace labs.

Supersonic wind tunnel:

The campus is really nice. Usually when you think of Iowa you think of cornfields and flat plains. Well, not in Ames. Iowa State's grounds have some really old trees, and during this time of year they were all turning colors as well.

We will be touring the University of Minnesota on Monday. I'm sure it will by similar to ISU in a lot of ways, because they also have a very good engineering program. A plus for U of M (without even having to visit it) is that it is so close. I wouldn't even have to live on campus if I didn't want to.


Iowa State, Here I Come!

Tomorrow I'll be going down to visit one of the colleges I'm considering. In all honesty, Iowa State University is one of my "fall-back" schools. I would rather go to Embry-Riddle or MIT. But it's still decent, and perhaps I'll feel different after visiting the campus.

I'll let you know how the trip turns out!


Rocket Team

An amazing new opportunity has come my way: My physics teacher, Mr. Shaffer, is the leader of a small club at my school called the "Rocket Team." The goal of the club every year is to build an egg-lofting rocket to enter in the Team America Rocketry Challenge contest. Every year the rules for the contest are slightly different. This year, we launch an egg to 850 ft and have a total flight time of 40 seconds. Any differences in altitude or time aloft give you points. You don't want points.

And here's the best part about it: if you score in the top 100, you advance to nationals in Washington D. C.! The winners of the national event each receive $10,000 scholarships. This is definately worth some time and energy. A cool thing about nationals is that a lot of head aerospace companies and defense people are there. You could very well just walk into the crowd and start talking to the CEO of Lockheed-Martin. Some great connections can be made there, needless to say.

I hope we do well! No matter what though, it will be a great experience.


50 Things I Do When I'm Bored

  1. Try to design a rocket on RockSim to break 100,000 ft using K motors
  2. Make up polynomials and then factor them
  3. Eat a bowl of cereal
  4. Try to find shortcuts to evaluate the nth derivative of a function
  5. Make popcorn
  6. Watch obscure movies
  7. Think about the Universe and wonder if it has a limit, then muse about the space-time continuum and wonder if what theoretical physicists say is true.
  8. Create short films
  9. Create computer programs that will help me win play money in physics class
  10. Eat a bowl of cereal
  11. Read Spacecraft-Environment Interactions by Daniel E. Hastings
  12. Write blog posts about what I do when I'm bored
  13. Organize my room by rocket construction: my desk (where I design them), my supplies and materials shelf (coming soon! Right now everything's just piled up), my workbench, and finally my display rack (coming soon! Right now all my rockets are just piled up)
  14. Buy hundreds of notebooks at Wal-Mart in August when they're only $0.05 then sell them at a garage sale in the spring for $0.10.
  15. Read the dictionary
  16. Write in my Aerospace Research Journal. Usually when I'm bored, its just random stuff I pull off the Internet. But when I'm not bored, I use the journal for some pretty exciting projects!
  17. Use RockSim to design a rocket using no more than a D motor to break the speed of sound
  18. Eat a bowl of cereal
  19. Go out into the garden and sit on our 200 lb pumpkin to think
  20. Homework
  21. Read Rocket Propulsion Elements by George P. Sutton. I love this book!
  22. Wonder why I have no money, then look around my room at all the rocket gear, and then remember why
  23. Read about unsolved math problems
  24. Think about college and wonder what school I will end up attending
  25. Read the Bible (the best thing to do when you're bored!)
  26. 20 pushups!
  27. Nap
  28. Come up with ideas for new research projects that I could start once I'm un-bored
  29. Procrastinate from homework
  30. Go out to field 12 and dream about flying rockets
  31. Wonder why I have no rocket materials, and then remember I have no money
  32. Write a novel in 30 days
  33. Watch ingenius YouTube videos
  34. Sell collectible Avon bottles on eBay
  35. Eat another bowl of cereal
  36. Read The Handbook of Model Rocketry by G. Harry Stine. Nope. I haven't outgrown it yet and never will. I've read some of the most basic sections over and over and I can still get something out of it
  37. Direct a short film
  38. Look at the world map and wonder what places like Uchquduq and Bora Bora are like
  39. Write about reasons why the Big Bang Theory really should be considered a hypothesis because of all the vague evidence interpretted by biased scientists (actually, all scientists are biased, even when they try not to be), and then wonder why everyone has just accepted the hypothesis as fact without even exploring the facts for themselves?
  40. Apply to MIT and Embry-Riddle, just for kicks
  41. Do self-study on amateur radio to hopefully earn my license soon
  42. Draw cartoons (I'm toying with the idea of coming out with a new strip)
  43. Write a program that does linear programming which turned out to be pretty useless but I learned a lot
  44. Make lists. All kinds of lists. Anywhere from to-do lists to rocket supplies lists to Christmas gift ideas lists to lists of subjects I want to learn more about
  45. Join a rocket club at school where we launch eggs
  46. Start another money-making enterprise
  47. Knit a scarf with tassles
  48. Go through things in my "special box"
  49. Take a ten-mile bike hike
  50. Write in my journal about how bored I am


Some Math Jokes

What does a college freshman who failed his first calculus test have in common with a college freshmen who got a speeding ticket going 60mph in a 30mph zone?

Neither student knew the limits.




The very word stirs two coexisting sentiments inside me.

The prospect excites me: to go out into the world to accomplish great and adventurous feats, to know a new life away from everything I've ever known...

And this leads directly into my other view, a seemingly contradictory state of inward compulsion, diametrically opposed to the aforementioned ideology. A myriad of fears overwhelm me concerning many aspects of college: people, finances, family withdrawal, rigorous acadamia; the list goes on.

Amid the maelstrom of fears and excitement, there is a constant in my function of emotion: my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.


Optimum Mass Research Project

In between AP calculus, AP English 12 and Honors Physics, I'm working on a research project. The official title is "Optimum Mass of a Small Rocket Propelled Vehicle."

The basic premise of the research is to find the factors that determine the optimum mass of a model rocket. Does it occur when the maximum momentum is at motor burnout, or maximum kinetic energy?

The idea of optimum mass is to find the mass of a rocket that will yield the highest flight. You can't throw a bowling ball as high as a basketball, but you can throw the basketball a lot higher than a beach ball. So for any given shape, there is a mass that is ideal for a given impulse. (Of course, on the moon the optimum mass would always be zero, because there is no atmosphere to slow the rocket down, so you want it to be as light as possible).

My idea was to fly a rocket multiple times with all variables held constant save its mass. I built a small ballast compartment to fly different amounts of modelling clay. The next step wasto measure the altitude the rocket attains using two theodolites. I was hoping to see some correllation between mass and altitude, then determine whether the optimum mass was determined by maximum momentum at burnout or maximum kinetic energy at burnout.

There was a problem. I discovered that Optimum Mass can lead to Lost Rockets. Especially during September/October when the corn stalks are twelve feet tall.

I was hoping to finish this project and send it to New Jersey by October 1st for a science competition. But all that changed when I watched my little orange rocket drift over the horizon, never to be seen again.

I am still going to finish this research project, even though I missed the deadline for the competition. Maybe I'll enter it in some other competition or science fair.


(For the scientists on my blog): I think that it might be possible to use logic to solve this hypothesis. The equation for momentum is given by

p = mv

where p is the momentum, m is the mass of the object and v is the velocity of the object. The equation for kinetic energy is given by

E = 1/2(mv^2)

In the first equation, momentum rises with velocity. In the second equation, kinetic energy rises with the square of the velocity, meaning that when you double the velocity, it will take four times the energy to cancel the forward energy.

This is key: the drag equation also rises with the square of the velocity.

D = 1/2(rho*Cd*v^2*A)

where D is the drag force, rho describes the atmospheric conditions, Cd is a coefficient that sums up the complex dependencies, v is the velocity, and A is the fronal area of the rocket. Doesn't this equation look astoundingly similar to the equation for kinetic energy?

Is any of this making sense? I haven't exactly figured it all out yet, but when I do, I'll post my whole research report.

Happy Rocketeering!


Out-of-Context Shaffer Quotes

I recently started a new blog compiling some of the oddest, funniest, randomest, or goofiest quotes from my Honors Physics teacher Mr. Shaffer. He really means it when he says:

"I get to be a dork all day, and I get paid to do it!"

He really loves his job, as is evident in his teaching. I'm really enjoying his class, more than any I've taken at public school yet!



4D Tesseract

This isn't related to aerospace per se, but I've been into quantum physics off and on, and things like this fascinate me. This is supposed to be a "shadow" of a four dimensional object. If 3D objects casts 2D shadows, then it makes sense that 4D objects would cast 3D shadows. Now, it's important to realize that it is humanly impossible to visualize the fourth spatial dimension, but mathematics and computers can sometimes lend a helping hand in conceptualizing this.


Another Ribbon to Put on My Wall

My project on multi-staging techniques took an Award of Excellence (purple award) at the 4-H State Fair encampment this year. This project has been an incredible learning experience, complete with failures and successes. Soon I would like to move on from 4-H and enter other kinds of competitions and science fairs.
School has started today, and I'm taking some foundational courses essential to rocket science like calculus and physics. It's looking to be a great school year!


Another Great Launch for Discovery

STS-128 is on its way, with no major anomalies to report!

Did you know?
NASA plans to retire the Shuttle program in 2010. More on that later.


STS-128 Coverage

Coolstreaming Channel 533

Shuttle Discovery will be making a trip to the International Space Station to deliver its "Leonardo" module. It is slated to launch at 1:10 am EDT.
(If you find the embeded video is not working, you can watch it directly on NASA TV)


Particularly Interesting APOD Picture

I always love the pictures posted on Astronomy Picture Of the Day. And these clouds are particularly interesting. Apparently no one knows for sure how they are formed, but every year they appear over parts of Australia.

You know, when it really boils down to it, the whole reason I'm in science and engineering is to better admire the beauty of Creation. If it weren't for the engineers who designed the airplane, this unique view of these unique clouds would not have been possible.


Disaster Strikes. AGAIN!!

Some days are just like that. One launch cost me almost 200 dollars in damage, because I flew every electronic payload I owned in it... and it flopped. I suppose "flopped" is a bit of an understatement. It "THUD-ed."

The really scary part is that I have to fix this rocket up in 5 days, because I have to box it up and ship it down to the State Fair grounds. I'd be chagrinned to send a half-bashed-in rocket down there... it just isn't done.

This is the second time I've had to rebuild it. I ordered a new nosecone ahead of time, just on speculation. Knowing my history, there was a fairly good chance something could go wrong, and something did:

I am still unsure of what happened, but I think that the most likely cause of this failure is that a wire disconnected on liftoff, breaking the continuity. It was hard to tell among the wreckage, since everything was in shambles.



I was prepping the electronics for the next flight of my rocket yesterday, and when I attached the igniter to the electronics terminal... POOF!!! The igniter fired. Needless to say, something was malfunctioning. I checked th manual, and one thing I saw was that if you switch the battery polarity it would result in the immediate firing of any attached igniters. So I checked and triple-checked the terminals, and they were definately in the right order. So I have a puzzle on my hands.

This was a very dangerous situation. Had I stuck the igniter into the motor first, a G71 would have fired in my bedroom!

Things will probably work out, however, because the launch for today got postponed because of rain and thunderstorms, so that gives me time to order new electronics.


First Multi-staging Success

My summer-long project of multi-staging rockets has had its first success! I staged Double-Trouble from a 137 N-sec G80 motor to a G71 Redline motor. There isn't any data on this flight since I could spare any more weight for electronics, but I got a video. Even that is so-so; I'm so excited when it works that I totally loose sight of the rocket.


"You Stuck It WHERE!?" Short Film Contest

My family has been getting into filmmaking little by little. This summer we won an honorable mention for "Best Special Effects" for a short film competition featuring the library. Now we are planning on making a film for Post-It Super Sticky Notes. The point of the contest is to see if Post-It Super Sticky Notes can go where other notes can't. What would be a better proof of its ability that to post it on the side of one of my rockets?
I'm probably going out on a limb announcing this, since the deadline is the end of August! That doesn't give us much time to make the film, but it's only supposed to be a maximum of two minutes.
Here is the video we made for the MELSA "Quiet on the Set!" short film competition:


Aerospace Exhibit Going to State!

I made State once again, with my re-built multi-stage rocket "Double-Trouble." The last few days leading up to the county fair I have been sanding, priming and painting it to give it a glossy paint job. What's funny is that the new nosecone came in the mail just hours before bringing it over to the fair, just enough time to give it a coat of paint! I have to say, it looks pretty good. It took champ too, all my work paid off.


Name for "Untitled"

Because of Saturday's major disaster, I thought of a name that should suit this rocket. "Double-Trouble" is indicative of its double-stage characteristic, not to mention its miserable life-story.


Disaster Strikes

I can't get over my absent-mindedness of yesterday. I'm embarrassed to even mention it, but I never even armed the timer before counting down and launching all my hard work up into the sky... It was especially embarrasing since we had some friends over to witness the flight.
One thing I have proven: fiberglass cloth really minimizes destruction to rockets caused by lawn darts. My rocket took a death-dive from over a thousand feet, and landed on the railroad tracks near the field. The nose cone was completely done-in, but there was remarkably little damage to the rest of the rocket. In fact, the fins were completely intact, all of the centering rings and internal structures were intact, and most of the body tube except for the very forward end. My construction techniques must have improved dramatically if my rocket can survive a fall from a thousand feet and land nose first on crushed rock.

So in conclusion: I have resolved to never fly a rocket again without a checklist. When people are watching me prep, waiting for the launch, my absent-mindedness gets magnified and I forget steps (very important steps!), make mistakes, and generally make a big fool of myself. So I got a good, healthy dose of humility yesterday.

Well, at least the first stage worked great!


"Untitled" Set to Launch!

It's embarrasing to have spent so much time and energy on a project you can't even come up with a creative name for. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

Later today I will be flying this rocket for the first time in its two-stage configuration. This is the moment of revelation. Will it work?

I took the rocket to a MASA launch a week ago, and got some helpful advice. According to the manual for the electronics, a single 9V battery won't reliably ignite an Aerotech FirstFire igniter. The igniter requires 4.0 amps to light, and at 2.0 amps the voltage drops down to about 3V, and at 5.0 amps it drops down to zero. So to remedy this problem I added another 9V battery connected in series.

It is staged from a G64 to an E16. The entire rocket weighs pretty close to 3 lbs loaded, and the upper stage weighs about 1.5 lbs. The upper stage has at best a 2:1 thrust-to-weight ratio, but with an upperstage it isn't a big deal, since it can be considered as prolonging the coast phase.


Did You Know?

"During the cold war, the code to unlock nuclear missiles was 00000000. Strategic Air Command thought the eight-digit combinations necessary to launch ICBMs were for [dumbbells], the kind of fraidy-cats who engage the safety on their personal firearms. So the combination for all the missiles was kept at 00000000. The locks were finally given legitimate combinations in 1977."

– 100 Things You're Not Supposed to Know, p.173.



If I invest hundreds of dollars in a minimum diameter supersonic G-motor rocket that ends up going to nearly the end of the troposphere (just a slight exaggeration), it goes without saying that I will lose a lot of money. So I realized that it would be in my best interest to study amateur radio and go for my ham license this summer. Small transmitters can be placed in a rocket to aid in the tracking of it once it has landed.
By the way, a receiver costs somewhere in the ballpark of $399. Why does my interest in aerospace have to consume every penny? Why?


First Multistage Rocket: Complete!

I just finished my first mid-power dual-stage rocket! I've built several low-power ones on Este's dash-zero motors way back when, but now I'm venturing into the world of electronic ignition, misfires and lawndarts. I've got a small electronic timer that activates 2 seconds after the G-switch is triggered.

I flew it at a MASA solstice evening launch with only the upper stage. RockSim reported iffy stability, so I wanted to test with as few people around as possible. There were, however, no major anomalies and it flew straighter than an arrow (just a figure of speech), but I think it helped that the wind speed was about .0000001 mph.
The only concern I have can be easily seen in the picture below. Somehow the motor slipped down off the clip. RMS casings can get pretty pricy, and this was a close call.

Finished paint scheme:


Long Awaited Big Yeller Onboard Video

Tripoli MN finally posted the onboard video of Big Yeller to YouTube!

Suborbital Sounding Rocket Goes POP!

I think this launch happened about a year ago. The rocket suffered an anomaly and was destroyed by the RSO. It doesn't sound like what you might expect a rocket explosion to sound like. It sounds more like a firecracker!


A Trip to the MSP Control Tower...

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport has been ranked 7th largest in the nation. So it was definately a priviledge to tour behind the scenes the workings of the air traffic control at the MSP airport.

The tour was for my aerospace engineering class, and though it was geared more towards the aviation technology class that was also on the tour, I got quite a bit out of it.

The MSP control tower:
A unique view of the Minneapolis skyline from inside the tower:

There was a catwalk around the top of the control tower that offered an awesome 360 degree view of the surrounding runways and the jetliners departing and arriving:

Overall, I was surprised how little security there was. No one ever even checked my camera case! Obviously they did background checks on us, but it was still pretty astounding. We were walking right into the heart of the air traffic control, the tower, the TRACON room (where we couln't bring cameras) and there was far less security than when you walk onto an air plane.


Going to Join the NAR...

It's hard to believe June is already upon us, but it's going to be an excellent summer for rocketry. I can just feel it.

To fly some of my larger project this summer, I've got a bit of a problem. There's no way to get HPR motors until you're 18... unless you join the NAR.

The NAR has a special program for kids wanting to get a head start in high-power rocketry. With limited provisions and close adult supervision you can get level 1 certified before you turn 18. With a level 1 certification you can fly H and I motors (an I motor has as much impulse as four G motors). So it's my goal to get my Junior Level 1 certification before the end of the summer!


Largest Amateur Rocket in MN!

I just happened to turn on my computer and check my email for the first time in six days yesterday, and got the news that Tripoli MN was going to have a research launch that same afternoon. The plan was to launch Big Yeller, a twenty foot tall rocket weighing 180 lbs, the largest amateur rocket flown in Minnesota! Of course I couldn't miss this event.

Above, the team is arming the altimeters just before launch.

A lot of people rushed off after the launch, but I came down to help recover the rocket. They were glad of an extra hand, because it was a bulky thing to lug around in the cornfield.

I took a picture of the aft rail button (the part that holds the rocket on the pad). It sustained some damage that looked like it had gotten stuck on the launch pad. Apparently this drag at liftoff nearly halved the altitude.


Compressibile Aerodynamics

I've decided to start a summer-long study of compressible aerodynamics, that is, the compressible nature of a gas at speeds above Mach. It ties in very well with my supersonic projects. I'm going to try starting my investigation using the NASA guided tours. It is my hope to actually conduct scientific research in this subject this summer.

It's a fascinating subject because at high speed regimes, there can actually be a chemical change in the composition of the air. At supersonic speeds, the density of the air changes drastically, and it is usually visible:


4th Time's the Charm!

On Saturday I had the privilege of attending a high-power rocket launch in North Branch, Minnesota. I launched Exporter 2000 with my new onboard video system, and for the first time ever I have video from this rocket! I'm pretty pleased with the results, but the wind was kind of high (~10 mph) and there was a lot of spin on the ascent.

There were quite a few other launches, but it was slightly overcast so no one wanted to go too high.


1:10 Scale Saturn V Rocket

I heard about this a little late, but apparently it set a record for size:


Do Hard Things

Here is a quote from Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Now here is a quote from Alex and Brett Harris, founders of "The Rebelution:"
"Do Hard Things."
It is simply the only way to aspire to be a rocket scientist, aiming high, and raising the bar. Most of my peers (it seems) are content to just get by. This kind of scares me. It doesn't seem like my generation is ready or willing to shoulder the responsibility of running the world, and whether they're ready or not, they'll be called on to lead it.
However, I don't want to make too broad a generalization. Teens are very capable of "doing hard things," as they have shown throughout history. George Washington was one of the dumbest kids in his class, but by persistence and determination he applied himself in his studies and became official surveyor, general of the army, and ultimately the leader of this country. I just hope that more and more of my generation will latch onto this vision.


Onboard Video!

You can almost see my house from this shot.

First Launch of 2009

I had some great launches today; no failures! Good launches and good recoveries. Plus, my onboard video worked for once! The quality isn't the best, but I've got it. I'll post it to YouTube and my blog once I get it off my camera.
My altimeter reported a boring altitude on Sky Spy's flight: 546 ft. It should have gone over 800 according to simulations. I have a hunch that RockSim isn't all that accurate when it comes to drag, even when I take care to input all the flight conditions.
Spare Parts Spaceship had a beautiful launch and textbook recovery.
I'm looking foreward to a great year of flying rockets!


Computer Rendering of Next Mach Muncher

...And updated information. I was wrong about the projected speed. If I leave the rocket the way it is (without adding weight to the nose, or payloads), it's predicted to go 1800 ft/s! I don't want it to shred or anything, so I will definitely do something about this.

Launch Coming Up

I will probably have the first launch of the year this weekend, provided the weather cooperates (which it looks like it might). I have 2 or 3 rockets ready to launch:

1) Arrow 2, my most flown rocket with at least a dozen flights, will hopefully fly on a C6-5, possibly even with a D12 booster.

2) Spare Parts Spaceship is all set to fly its second mission, SPS-2, on a G79! (Sadly it will only get 75% the altitude of its last flight on a 137 n-sec G80).

3) A new rocket that I'm pretty much finished with named Sky-Spy, and the first rocket to carry my new video camera! I never bothered to post about it, because it doesn't really push the envelope of my ability in any significant way. It's just a low/mid-power rocket meant to boost a small camera to 1,000/2,000 feet. And that's where the fun comes in.