2011 Recapitulation

Way back in the beginning of the year I came up with three "Big, Fun Scary Adventures," referred to herein as "BFS Adventures." The first of these was a concrete goal: to obtain my level-2 certification for high-power rocketry. The story of this adventure was a long and comical one:

My first attempt was in June, using my rocket called "Stinger." I used a Cesaroni J285, which is a very small J-motor. For some reason, the flight was just a flop:

Next month I managed to put together an entirely new rocket (can't remember the name of it). It was a big, galumphing rocket made from thick cardboard tubes. The idea was to build heavy so that the rocket didn't go very high so I didn't need dual-deployment. That idea came back to bite me:

So I figured that the third time is usually the charm, and I came out next month with this rocket, which is the sustainer stage of a multistage project.

I figured that I had failed, but we kinda had to rush off at the end of the launch, and didn't talk much with the certifying member afterward. But a few weeks later I got my card in the mail, which read "cert level 2." So that's the story of how I got my level 2 certification.

My second adventure was less than exciting. I set a specific goal to "earn at least $5000 by working and at least $5000 of non-ISU scholarships." This one was also a success. I failed to find an internship, so I worked hard on a sod farm all summer, some weeks working 60 hours! It was quite the arduous ordeal but I earned about $4500 for school. Previously during the spring semester I had earned about $800 from working at Target. So there's my $5000 by working. And I got a pretty nice engineering scholarship for $8000 which helped me stay in school!

My last BFS Adventure was rather vague. "Invent something cool," I said. I'm counting the payload we built for USLI for this adventure. While it was not entirely my invention, I learned a lot of great stuff from being on that team and helped develop pretty cool technology for it. All of the structural components were designed and built by me. A lot of the programming was me, too. One thing is irrefutable: It was cool.

So there's 2011 in a nutshell. Of course, that leaves out 99% of my life, but now you have the 1% worth talking about.

I sense 2012 has some adventures in store that will make 2011 look like a walk in the park. Bring it on!


December Rockets

After a great semester, I now have three whole weeks of holiday to kill. I've already dived into a couple rocket projects, one that I've been working on for a while now, and one that I've been wanting to start for just as long.

The rocket that I got my level 2 certification on was actually designed to be the upper stage of a two-stage rocket. So I'm now continuing work on the booster stage. Where I left off was a messy plywood and expanding foam blob, and today I picked it up again and started working on a fiberglass layup. I figured that today might be my best chance, since it got up to 45 degrees today.

I also want to work on the 38mm minimum diameter rocket I've been planning. I might try doing the layups inside if I have to, but I don't want to fumigate the house with epoxy.

Lastly, if I have time, I might work on a scale rocket for USLI... but more on that later!

[Build pictures]


Armadillo Aerospace Reaches 137,000 ft with "Stiga"

I've been following this company for a while, and am very impressed with what they can do. It is a very small company with only a handful of employees. One of them, (Ben Brockert) is an alumnus of Iowa State, and I met him down in Boulder Colorado during the 2011 Space Vision conference.