Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Q motors!

Thanks to a post over at The Rocket Dungeon, we have a great new picture of a Q motor. This appears to be part of Beagle II, simulated below, which is designed to fly to as high as 250,000 feet.


This is the upper stage of a two stage rocket, flown solo first for a test.


This is the last project, a Q to P motor two stage rocket flown at Blackrock. The video below shows it was not a total sucsess, but boy what a project! It is the largest two stage hobby rocket that I have ever come across. It was interesting that the goal was only 100,000 feet, this amount of motor power should be able to hit space in the right package.

This video shows the 2 stage attempt. The lack of a 2nd stage burn is the most serious problem - electronics need to work for a project like this, but the lack of stability during the Q burn is also a problem. The amount of stress placed on the airframe from that move it pulled in this video must have been profound, and was probably close to causing a failure right there. Just to speculate for a moment, it is looking like the first stage was a bit to heavy, and the fins were a bit too small. There is no need to be so conservative on first stage fins - first stage drag is not a huge concern, and the rocket has to work to get anywhere in the first place. This video is a great demonstration of the power contained within a Q motor. Somehow it is harder to appreciate in a giant rocket where it hardly moves.

Here is the source of the images and info: Flicker. I plan on checking back regularly to see the images of this new rocket.


The majority of large motors O and above, but short of R and S, seem all too often to be used in giant rockets. Different strokes is the rule in rocketry; there is a huge spectrum of motor sizes, rocket types, and financial stakes in the hobby. However, I simply can't see how one takes a Q motor, able to lift a camera to near space, and sticks it into a huge scale model that flies to 6,000 feet. Maybe it just isn't my style, and one can leave it at that. Some people seem to have the same altitude bug, however, and they keep bringing forward great attempts. The Thunderbolt project by Kosdon is a good example of putting serious motors to serious altitude work. There was a tentative plan to take 4 O-10,000 motors and make a 3 - 1 O rocket out of them, which would have broken 100,000 feet with ease. Perhaps this project, if it ever does fly (and it is sadly likely that it wont; most large projects are never completed), it will be a record breaker and a pretty impressive project. Best of luck to everyone involved!

Even short of this 3 to 1 Q rocket, there is no reason not to try another Q to P or Q to Q flight. Why not keep trying until it works?

Readers may remember this image from just a few posts back, a really cool 2 stage, 5 motor RRS project. It does not take much imagination to think of a similar rocket (hell just copy the design almost completely) using Q motors like those seen above. This would be a fairly inexpensive, if complex, rocket that should be able to carry 20 or 30 KG to space. The performance in such a rocket would be an S motor staged to a Q motor. Since an aerodynamic S motor using amateur mass fractions can hit at least 72 miles, a less than optimal cluster first stage (heavy, draggy compared to a monolithic S) should still get the Q upper stage to space, probably 100 miles.


This shows one possible design for a rocket, using 4 Q motors this time, to sample life at high altitudes. Now it is not clear why one would need to go so high to look for life, certainly not much past 100,000 feet. There is simply nothing much up there chemically. This kind of survey could be better done with many small (and cheap and long flying) balloons. But, since I love large fast amateur rockets, great idea guys! Go for it!

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