Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Dutch Rocket Boys

These 4 rocket scientists have a ton of great rockets, and a few upcoming projects of truly impressive size. This includes a two stage 6 inch to 6 inch rocket (P to P) called the Dust Devil.

"Altitude predictions are now between 30 km (100.000 feet) and 90 km (300.000 feet or near Space) depending on the final airframe design and offcourse the design of the motors. Speed predictions are between Mach 3.1 and Mach 5.2"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Space mice (incl. space mouse 3)

This page shows the evolution of a series of altitude rockets, culminating in a three stage rocket called space mouse 3. While this rocket did not fly properly, with a shred in the upper stage, it was on the way to 40,000 feet or so at that point.

"After four attempts with the three staged Space Mouse, I am regrouping for another attempt in 2009. The 2008 attempt at Black Rock was an unfortuante disaster. First stage was a L1120, staging to a K250, and then, to another K250 in the sustainer. After a great lift off, the rocket began veering off vertical. However, all stages separated and fired as planned. At 24,000 feet and traveling 1600 mph, the upper airframe of the sustainer apparently collapsed at Max Q. This occured just before bunrout of the motor. All parts were recovered."

It is interesting to see spiral wound fiberglass airframes here, these are far heavier than optimal. Altitude records are constantly getting blown away now because of improved material technology, where carbon fiber is king. I am a bit confused about the 38mm upper stage; the web page says K250 - K250 in the upper stage, but here we see a 38mm model that must fly on a J or less. Probably, there are a few rockets here in a few different combinations.

Here is a video by the same rocket scientist:

As one comment says: "pretty interesting that the first stage had the rocket spinning counter-clockwise then the second stage spun it clockwise."

All projects by Kurt Gugisberg


Check out this post on rollerons at TORD (DRD)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Falcon 9 on the pad!

Universe Today

It looks as if companies like this will be the future for American space launches, particularly when it comes to manned flight and support of manned missions. This rocket is still very far away from offering manned flights, but it is also very far away from nothing. Good luck guys!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comments now only for those with an account

Due to constant and pointless spam (spam without links, what is the point of that?) on these two science related pages, which I consider more mature and kid friendly than R2K (a quake 3 blog), I have made it so that comments can only be placed by those with some kind of username. That isn't limited to only blogger, however.

Sorry if that ruined anyone's plans to actually post a comment here eventually...

Sound ripples in cloud during rocket launch

"Perched on top of an Atlas V rocket, on February 11 the Solar Dynamics Observatory launched into space. About a minute after leaving the Earth, the rocket did two things: it passed the speed of sound, and screamed past a sundog, a rainbow-colored optical effect in the sky caused by ice crystals.

And when it did, well, it was incredible. What’s below is just about the coolest video I have ever seen. And I mean that seriously. Click the "720" button and pay close attention at the 1:50 mark. You won’t miss it, the crowd in the audio will alert you…"

A very good video from BadAstronomy

Can you imagine the power involved in this? Those hundreds or thousands of pounds per square foot of pressure on that rocket really add up, and exert serious force even miles from the nosecone. However, there is no reason to believe that this is a sonic boom, as suggested in the link. This could just have been the sound from the rocket engines, and it is important to understand that a sonic wave should probably just look like a single expanding circle, as it is a single expanding cone. There may be some texture to it, and maybe a few cones dropped by different parts of the rocket, but there again is no reason to think that this shows us that! It may be something else, in other words, perhaps the sound from the rocket engines? Or maybe it really is just a turbulent cone of compressed air that is being pushed off every nook and cranny of the rocket airframe at different times. These cones do look turbulent when I have seen them, with supersonic projectiles and also with a rocket sled. Either way, it would be great to see what the experts think.

Looking at the video again, it seems the waves continue well after the rocket has past the clouds. That leans towards the engine sound side of the argument. Or perhaps a combo?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thunderbolt 38mm FG kit from Giant Leap

Clearly most of the posts around here have been about professional rocketry and space matters (in addition to just random image posting from Google whenever something pretty or cool came up.) This is due largely to the winter season putting things on the back burner for a while. Even when active, however, I am lucky to do 3 or 4 launches a year. What a sad state of affairs - I don't own a car, and would prefer not to carry rockets and motors on mass transit.

However, there is one new item in the rocketry collection as of today:

I just got this kit in the mail, a 38mm minimum diameter rocket from Giant Leap. In fiberglass, this is actually the most expensive rocket I have ever purchased - around $170 shipped. That is pretty big money, but I figure you only live once and might as well fly in style before you die, perhaps as a result of starvation trying to pay down your massive massive rocketry debt. Hopefully this rocket lasts for a while, and it is rugged enough to survive quite a bit of use. (Flash forward to me climbing a 75 foot tree with a giant metal pole...)

As one can see above, the rocket arrived wrapped up as any normal kit would, which makes me think they may actually prepare these in advance rather than just setting up the parts each time someone places an order. It is funny to see such an expensive kit in what is basically the same old LOC style plastic bag with a label on top.

There is some relevant history for me regarding ACME fin cans. A recent post here discussed how I got my beginning in high power, essentially my BAR moment: I picked up the OuR edition of a rocketry magazine, and was totally blown away by this R motor flight to near space. Soon after reading the magazine from cover to cover (too soon, as you will see), I placed an order with Giant Leap Rocketry based on an ad.

I ordered one ACME 38mm Fin Can, one 38mm Airframe tube, one 29mm motor mount tube, one 38mm Nose Cone, and a length of nylon strap. In my novice mind at the time, these would make a nice D motor rocket. My thinking was that I could just adapt D motors to fit 29mm (how much could 5 mm be anyway?) motor tubes, and fly this rocket on D motors on my own. Boy was I in for a surprise. When the gear arrived, everything was pretty much as expected; the tubes and nose cone were all stocky, heavy, and larger than my model rockets, but nothing too out of the ordinary. (My instincts were not horrible; a small 38mm phenolic rocket could fly on D motors.)

But then came the shock: the acme fin can was a massive, dense hunk of plastic. I could only imagine the amount of power involved in rocketry that needed fins this strong! (Granted they are bulked up even by high power standards, but I didn't know that at the time.) If the OuR project got me started in high power, the ACME fin can made sure I was hooked for good!

That 38mm fin can was used to build a 72 inch x 38mm rocket that flew often during the late 90s on G125 motors. (The biggest I could fly before turning 18, though I don't think that was technically legal either...) After a few recovery problems, the rocket finally flew on a motor more appropriate for it - the I357T. This was in Jersey, and sadly the rocket was lost. Due to massive hobby inflation (prices have about doubled in the past 10 years), this rocket is more expensive than that first kit despite being shorter. However, hopefully it can go farther than the first and have a long and healthy high power career. There is no reason why this rocket can't fly on even full J motors, but I will probably keep it in the G-H range for now to keep it out of trees!

One more fiberglass kit is expected in the mail soon, with further posts to come. No construction images - my work is too sloppy to post online and no one need follow my example! However, once the rocket is finished perhaps a new post is in order, and again after painting and flying.

It is worth repeating, Giant Leap Rocketry is the best source for rocketry parts. They are second to none and have earned my loyalty time after time. (Can you tell I am fishing for a free 2nd fin can?!? :) )

Here is the exploded view of the kit. Boy are those 38mm airframe tubes heavy! The wall thickness is at least as thick as in 54mm if not thicker, for some reason. It feels about as heavy as a tube of glass would, but obviously much stronger. There are two lengths of tube, two 24 inches and a 4 inch coupler also fiberglass. The nosecone is plastic, longer than normal, and lighter than I am used to. It may be worth adding a bit of epoxy and weight to the tip just to make it stronger. Kevlar shock cords, two "hard point anchors" and tons of metal parts for recovery, everything is really strong and heavy the way I likes it. Now I did not expect the two hard point anchors in there, it looks as if this was a mistake on their end by sending two? Obviously the ACME fin can, a key part of the kit, two rail guides (my first time using rails rather than rods with a rocket, welcome me to the 21st century of rocketry), a 30 inch nylon parachute, a slimline retainer (yes it is the snap ring kind, no I wont start a scandal again with that topic), and a nomex chute protector that I will probably kindly set aside (I am a dog barf guy) rounding out the set of parts. There are good instructions, and a small decal as well. Yes as above this was a bunch of money, but the quality of parts helps justify that. The assembled weight will be high enough to make it appropriate only for G motors and above, but great for safe low altitude flights on G and H motors, which is what I want for right now. And, in the back of my mind, I am thinking of getting a pro 38 case and flying this on an H400 or so, and someday maybe even an I800?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crayon Pack - 8 Crayon rockets

"Since a friend pointed out that my I-ROC looked like a Crayon®, I've had the idea in back of my mind to build a Crayon rocket. Not just a Crayon rocket, but a pack of Crayon rockets! The smallest pack of Crayons I could find had eight, so that is the number. Of course, the eight rockets are pretty much standard mid-power rockets. But, they were to be launched from a box (the yellow and green Crayon box, of course) in rapid succession.

I decided to build the kit from Loc/Precision components, since they have a nice selection listed on their site, including pre-slotted airframe tubing, which will save a lot of work.

Note that this project suffered a long hiatus. I actually started it in 1998, and it was one of my first scratchbuilding projects. Work resumed in August 2004, more than six years later and finally completed in September, just in time for XPRS."

A John Coker project.

What a cool idea!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Who you callin' crater face?!?!

Mimas, with the giant crater (and possible future 130 KM optical telescope) Herschel.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Maxus 7

How did I ever miss this video?

Maxus rocket:
Overall length: 15.5 m
Overall mass: 12,400 kg
Payload mass: approx. 800 kg
Max. velocity: 3500 m/s
Max. acceleration: 15 g
Propellant mass: 10,042 kg
Motor burn time: 63 sec
Microgravity: up to 14 minutes
Apogee: > 700 km
Thrust(max. in vacuum): 500 kN

This is a big rocket! About 25,000 lbs! These rockets fly from the Esrange, in Sweden, well north of the Arctic Circle. Check out the snow on landing.


This is a fun video about the ELT 42 meter optical planned for construction in South America.

However, I prefer this plan:

The OWL was to be a 60+ meter (ideally 100 meter) optical telescope. Or as one Youtube comment puts it, "a big ass dob."

Either way, with the 42 meter model, we can expect impressive results. But I do not yet understand how the adaptive optics will allow it to be so sharp. They claim 15x better than Hubble. That I will believe when they achieve it, because the Hubble is just about the sharpest telescope on hand, and is competing well with 10 meter Earth based telescopes as we speak.

Now for a comparable cost, this space telescope will probably (imho) produce the best results. It will revolutionize our astronomy as much as Hubble did in the 1990s:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Airborne ABM system test

"For the first time the U.S. military has shot down a ballistic missile with an airbourne laser beam. The experiment, conducted off the California coast, was to demonstrate the future of defence technology. From the moment the missile was launched, it took the jumbo-jet mounted laser, just two minutes to destroy. The revolutionary use of laser beams is seen as extremely attractive in missile defens More..e, as it has the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, and is far cheaper than current systems.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Friday.


The agency said in a statement the test took place at 8:44 p.m. PST (11:44 p.m. EST) on Thursday /0444 GMT on Friday) at Point Mugu's Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in central California.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile" the agency said.

The high-powered Airborne Laser system is being developed by Boeing Co., the prime contractor, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Boeing produces the airframe, a modified 747 jumbo jet, while Northrop Grumman supplies the higher-energy laser and Lockheed Martin is developing the beam and fire control systems.

"This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform," the agency added.

The airborne laser weapon successfully underwent its first in-flight test against a target missile back in August. During that test, Boeing said the modified 747-400F aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base and used its infrared sensors to find a target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, California.

The plane's battle management system issued engagement and target location instructions to the laser's fire control system, which tracked the target and fired a test laser at the missile. Instruments on the missile verified the system had hit its mark, Boeing said.

The airborne laser weapon is aimed at deterring enemy missile attacks and providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.

"The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said."

There are some real problems here, however. Firstly, this missile was known in advance. With all of these tests, the warning time makes them somewhat unrealistic. A real test would have the missile launch window be months long, and the launch should take place without any warning. Further, this system only seems to work in the boost phase - an RV is already very heat resistant, and it would take a HUGE laser to damage one of them. Also, this was a liquid fueled missile. Most serious ballistic missiles will be solid fueled, and thus already very robust. The plane will have to be at least twice as close to a solid rocket booster to cause similar damage, if not closer. Remember that solid rocket motors are insulated to protect the airframe from the heat within. This insulation helps to some extent from the outside in. The best bet may be to weaken the airframe enough to cause a failure. However missiles can be made to spin rapidly, have ablative coatings, or as above some reflective coatings. Thinking back to the Sprint ABM rocket (as I do daily), it would take a building-sized, ground-based laser to even have a chance of catching it in the boost phase.

It is a bad sign if your billion dollar ABM program can be defeated with a 1 inch layer of cork on a missile!

With ballistic missiles, the odds are always tipped towards the offensive weapons. Nothing can replicate the power of a nuclear ABM design, but for some reason this is no longer popular. The most advanced fissile cores are resistant to neutron flux, but the power of a W54 type warhead and hit to kill accuracy combined is enough to destroy any RV... One need not even consider the high power warheads that are in the 100 - 700 KT power range.

Also, laser weapons are no longer futuristic anymore, since they have been developed for at least 30 years now!

One really cool part of this video is the fact that one can see the laser beam start at the plane and travel to the target. It is a very slight delay, but the directionality is clear.

From Liveleak

This laser system is interesting because it most likely could be used against many different objects including aircraft, satellites, and even ground targets! However there is nothing cheap about the operation, and it is not yet suitable for common warfare. This is a propellant fed laser system that needs to be refueled after a certain number of shots.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It is pretty impressive to see a rocket family last so long, this was one of the first large orbital rockets, and just about the only to use the unique 1.5 stage balloon airframe design. Granted almost everything is different about modern Atlas rockets, but the legacy is kept alive in some small way. The SDO launch (scrubbed twice as I tried to watch it live) reminded me of this great rocket family. There is a book out there about the design of the early Atlas ICBM:

Atlas Ultimate Weapon

Here is the SDO launch with a similar rocket (that looks more and more like a delta.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sounding Rocket Videos

That post last night made me search out some other sounding rocket videos.

"NASA NSROC sounding rocket compilation to Audioslave."

"This video is of a Hickman payload launched out of Wallops Island in 2006. The E-field booms are Rob Pfaff's." Dumb music, but great footage. Check out what appears to be aerodynamic heating on reentry near the end of the video, and those spinup motors during the start.

"Onboard video of a NASA Terrier-Orion flight. The video starts at T+10s, which is just seconds before Orion ignition." This one is hard to watch, maybe skip around a bit. It is interesting that there is sound almost all the way through the video, one would not expect that in space or even near space. It is also interesting to see how the Earth moves far more wildly towards apogee.

"Images from the RockOn! 2009 workshop at NASA Wallops in June 2009, culminating in the launch of a Terrier-Orion sounding rocket on June 26."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mesquito Sounding rocket

"This is a design concept named Mesquito (purposely spelled wrong). This is a single stage sounding rocket and will launch at 120G acceleration. The motor will burns for two seconds then separates from the payload, called the dart (only 4" diameter, very small). The dart will reach a maximum altitude of 80-100Km, roughly 50-62 miles in the air.

This particular launch was a test rocket launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia. It has no TM and is tracked by both WFF's tracking radars and the Navy's AEGIS Ballistics Missile Defense System due to the extreme speed and acceleration of this rocket. Note that the rocket breaks the sound barrier only a few feet from leaving the rail." Wiki

I was recently "informed" on The Rocketry Planet that boosted darts do not work best with high thrust motors. That was a bit before getting banned for "not believing what others tell me" or something along those lines. In any event, here is more about this rocket:

"Mesospheric Sounding Rocket Development (Mesquito)12.065 and 12.066 test flights were launched from Wallops Island on May 6 and May 7, respectively. Wallops Flight Facility radars and Navy SPY radars were used to provide performance data. WFF radars tracked the booster motor for the 12.065 flight (left). The Navy radar did not acquire. The WFF radar obtained data at about T+3 seconds for the 12.066 flight. The bore site camera shows an unstable booster after burnout. The video also indicates the booster did not have fins during the descent. The vehicle accelerated at 120 G’s and reached Mach 4.8 in 3.2 seconds." Wallops

Sunday, February 7, 2010

M motor on-board video

A nice view of Blackrock from 2 miles up.

"This is a test of the booster for an N to N 2 stage vehicle. This is an M1419 motor."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Locomotive Breath and Balls 18

It seems I only get to Blackrock once or twice a decade, so obviously I only get to learn about Balls 18 from the interwires and youtubes. One really cool project from last year was "Locomotive Breath." Does anyone have stats on this rocket or simulation details? It looks like either a P or a Q. The acceleration in the video below is really remarkable for such a large rocket - and helped cause the failure by bringing on high mach numbers in thick air. The page and video claim that a weak fin may have cause the shred. I wonder if airframe stress could also be to blame, perhaps the joint between the payload and motor? It may be hard to decide if fin damage is a cause or symptom of a shred condition.

Despite the failure, this was a really nice rocket. It would be great to see them try again. And perhaps next time stage it to a slow N motor!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Jules Verne cargo craft is filmed from a DC-8 as it explodes upon re-entry

"ESA's Jules Verne cargo craft is filmed from a DC-8 as it explodes upon re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere.

The craft broke up at a height of 47 miles whilst over the South Pacific.

The radar guided craft carried a major payload of supplies to the ISS, and was sent to it's destruction having been loaded with waste material."

Isn't the music nice?


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Man hurt after homemade rocket explodes on his back while sledding

"(CNN) -- A 62-year-old Michigan man was severely burned when a homemade rocket strapped on his back exploded while he slid down a snowy hill on a sled, authorities said this week.

The rocket stunt was the grand finale on Saturday during the man's annual sledding party at his Oakland County, Michigan, home, the sheriff's department said.

"He is known for doing 'crazy things' at his parties," an Oakland County sheriff's department statement said. "On this date, after consuming an unknown quantity of alcohol, he constructed a device out of a motorcycle muffler and pipe.""

This may look bad for serious rocketry people, but it is pretty much worth it because the guy got what he deserved and in a very funny way. Muffler pipes are NOT strong enough to use as a motor case.

"Inside the makeshift rocket, the victim placed gunpowder, heads from matches and gasoline. He donned a helmet and took a sled to the top of a snowy embankment."

For the record, this was not a rocket but a bomb. The worst part is, he clearly did not understand how rockets work or how to build one. Had he simply picked up a J motor, this would have had a happy ending. Until the flame burnt through his clothes, that is, almost instantly, and he got badly burnt in a different spot.

From CNN

Rocketry planet