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?