Sunday, October 31, 2010

Launch report

Today was the last launch of the year, and it saw decent sky conditions but excessive wind. The wind was around 15 mph, and resulted in several lost rockets for the day. I was lucky to have recovered all of my rockets, as you will soon see. No pictures this time because most of my efforts were battling the wind and recovering rockets.

To start, I flew the Drago on a G53FJ-5. This is a nice motor with a gentle profile and heavy smoke. The Drago is rapidly becoming a keystone rocket in the fleet, perhaps to replace the slowly failing LOC Graduator from 1998. In any event, despite the high wind, recovery was in the field and was visible even on the ground. Next the little Art Applewhite hourglass flew well on an F12J. For some reason, it went in a rapid spin even before burnout (usually that only happens at the end.) Perhaps the wind caused this, or the lower thrust.

Next, I flew the Thunderbolt 38mm from Giant Leap on an H400. The flight was fast and snappy, as expected. I plan to use more Vmax loads in the future. Because I used a large chute (28 inches), recovery was way out of the range. Out past the primary field (a solid 1500 feet), over a row of trees, and about the same distance again past those trees. Round-trip was well over a mile. By sheer luck, and the help of a local expert, I was able to grab the rocket and recover over $200 worth of hardware.

Finally, I prepped the Drago again to fly on a smaller motor, just an F52T. The flight was low, but sadly the parachute did not deploy. Only the nosecone came out, and the rocket came in very fast, if not ballistic. The very soft sod ground (ideal for rocketry) and the fiberglass construction ensure that the rocket only had minor damage to the nosecone. The airframe was fine, but it made a 4 inch core sample. These things happen sometimes. Much more disturbing was the location; this rocket "landed" within 30 feet of a group of people, children and a few adults. They were standing close to the range, and were not looking up. I began shouting "heads up!" and they basically saw it land near them.

I am very happy to report that no one was injured, but considering the speed of recovery (at least 50 mph, probably closer to 75) and strength of airframe, this would have caused severe injury or even death if it were to hit a person on the head. I am a bit upset about this because, no matter how much we say it is on every spectator to take on the risk of watching for themselves, if something horrible happened it would have still been on my head. I packed the 'chute that later jammed. Perhaps it just needs to remain clear that everyone should at all times look up and track all flights at least until a recovery event occurs. Yes even G flights can be dangerous.

Included is a map of the long recovery:

The two red X marks show long walks from the last launch. The large green X shows the recovery today, about twice the distance. It was nice to be out in the field on a autumn day, however, and I even saw a group of deer chased out by other rocket hunters.

Now is time to clean and repair, and wait for the spring.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Last launch of the year!

Getting ready to do some serious rocketry tomorrow, including an H400, my first ever Vmax motor.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Books in the Collection

I picked up space rescue and under the cloud on amazon. Science books always start out very expensive, but like any book the price comes down to nearly nothing if you can wait a year or two. And I can! :) I stopped in at a library book sale, and was happy to find some other books for $1 or so, including the book about tethers and space elevators. A decent haul, and more than enough for now. The book queue is 24 inches thick right now, that is probably about 5,000 pages of reading. I also got "Living off the Land in Space" from a Rose Center book sale. It is a signed copy by the author.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Solar Sail

The heliogyro is one of several possible designs for light sails. It appears to be among the simplest and is well within the bounds of current or near future technology. It would be ideal for moving payloads (unmanned) around the solar system. And yes, they are reusable and can make round trips.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get you science on gangsta!

Will be away for a few days.

Sirius XM-5

"The XM-5 is a high-power, Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) satellite that will serve as an in-orbit spare in the SIRIUS XM Radio Satellite Radio fleet, ensuring that SIRIUS XM subscribers across North America receive continued high-quality, digital music, entertainment, and data services. XM-5 has an on-orbit design life of 15 years and will carry a state-of-the-art payload featuring two large, unfurlable mesh antennas. Its end-of-life power capability of more than 18 kilowatts will make it one of the world's most powerful communications satellites."

How cool looking is this thing?

The Soyuz-2.1a (14A14)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


SHAC Jam is the grand finale celebration in Sam Houston Area Council for the 100th Anniversary of Scouting. One of the highlight events for SHAC Jam will be an attempt at the Guinness World Record for Most Simultaneous Model Rocket kits ever launched. The existing record of 965 rockets was set in 2007 by scouts from Austin, Texas. This attempt will launch 3,200 Estes model rockets which were built by scouts, friends and family from the Sam Houston Area Council in Houston, Texas. *** UPDATE *** Official rocket launch count was 3130.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

U2 flight over CA

"The U-2 Dragon Lady flying over Northern California on July 22, 2010. It's a tactical departure up to 70,000 feet. The Pilot is Lt Col Joe Santucci, Commanding Officer of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bang table from Atomic Rocket webpage

The following has been borrowed from: Atomic Rocket

Boom Table

Note in the table below, there is some controversy over the exact values of some of these figures. Note also that the largest SI prefix is "yotta-" which is 1 x 1024. For TNT equivalent, the energy of one gram of TNT was arbitrarily standardized by scientists to exactly 4184 joules (1000 thermochemical calories).

0.0 x 1000 Joules: Big Bang (interpretation one)
1.0 x 1002 J: Firecracker
1.4 x 1003 J: kinetic energy of a 3.5 g AK-74 bullet fired at 900 m/s
3.3 x 1003 J: kinetic energy of a 9.33 g NATO rifle cartridge fired at 838 m/s
4.184 x 1003 J: 1 gram TNT equivalent = 1 microton of TNT
1.3 x 1005 J: Anti-personnel land mine (31 grams TNT charge)
2.1 x 1005 J: Single round of depleted uranium from an A-10 Warthog's GAU-8 rotating cannon (1,800 rpm) = 50 grams TNT equivalent
8.4 x 1005 J: 1 stick TNT (200 grams)
9.5 x 1005 J: Hand grenade (226 grams of TNT charge)
4.184 x 1006 J: 1 kilogram TNT equivalent = 1 milliton of TNT
6.1 x 1006 J: 120mm Tank Gun KE Ammunition (KEW-A1) = 1.4 kilogram TNT equivalent
2.1 x 1007 J: Anti-tank mine (5 kg TNT charge)
3.9 x 1007 J: Impact energy of proposed Navy 64 megajoule railgun
1.2 x 1008 J: 1 gallon of gasoline = 28 kilograms TNT equivalent
1.8 x 1008 J: 1 microgram of antimatter + 1 microgram of matter = 43 kilograms TNT equivalent
5.3 x 1008 J: Battleship Iowa 16 inch shell with 54 kg high explosive charge = 127 kilograms TNT equivalent
1.9 x 1009 J: Tomahawk cruise missile (TLAM-C) = 454 kilograms TNT equivalent
4.184 x 1009 J: 1 ton TNT equivalent
8.4 x 1009 J: Oklahoma City bombing = 0.002 kiloton = 2 tons TNT equivalent
2.0 x 1010 J: Average lightning bolt = 4.8 tons TNT equivalent
3.6 x 1010 J: Average tornado = 8.6 TNT equivalent
4.2 x 1010 J: Davy Crockett tactical nuclear weapon = 0.01 kiloton = 10 tons TNT equivalent
5.0 x 1010 J: yield energy of a MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) bomb, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed = 12 tons TNT
1.8 x 1011 J: 1 milligram of antimatter + 1 milligram of matter = 43 tons TNT equivalent
4.184 x 1012 J: 1 kiloton
3.6 x 1013 J: energy released by an average thunderstorm = 9 kilotons
4.6 x 1013 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 gram at 75% c = 11 kilotons
6.3 x 1013 J: 1 Hiroshima "Little Boy" = 15 kilotons
8.8 x 1013 J: Nagasaki "Fat Man" = 21 kilotons
1.2 x 1014 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 gram at 90% c = 29 kilotons
1.8 x 1014 J: 1 gram of antimatter + 1 gram of matter = 43 kilotons
4.2 x 1014 J: W76 warhead = 100 kilotons
5.5 x 1014 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 gram at 99% c = 132 kilotons
6.0 x 1014 J: energy released by an average hurricane in one second = 143 kilotons/sec
1.3 x 1015 J: W87 warhead = 300 kilotons
1.4 x 1015 J: Earthquake 6.9 on the Richter scale = 338 kilotons
1.9 x 1015 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 gram at 99.9% c = 454 kilotons
2.0 x 1015 J: W88 warhead = 475 kilotons
2.0 x 1015 J: Earthquake 7.0 on the Richter scale = 477 kilotons
2.1 x 1015 J: Ivy King device = 500 kilotons (largest pure fission device ever made)
4.184 x 1015 J: 1 megaton = 67 Hiroshimas
5.0 x 1015 J: B83 nuclear bomb = up to 1.2 megatons (most powerful U.S. weapon in active service)
6.3 x 1015 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 gram at 99.99% c = 1.5 megatons
1.5 x 1016 J: 1 Barringer Meteor Crater = 3.5 megatons
3.8 x 1016 J: B53 nuclear bomb = 9 megatons (most powerful US warhead; no longer in active service)
4.4 x 1016 J: Eniwetok = 10.4 megatons
4.6 x 1016 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 kilogram at 75% c = 11 megatons
6.3 x 1016 J: Castle Bravo device (Bikini Atoll) = 15 megatons (most powerful US test)
6.3 x 1016 J: 1 Tunguska event = 15 megatons = 4.3 Barringer Meteor Craters
6.3 x 1016 J: Earthquake 8.0 on the Richter scale = 15 megatons
1.1 x 1017 J: 1 "city killer" = 25 megatons
1.1 x 1017 J: B41 bomb = up to 25 megatons (most powerful US bomb; no longer in active service)
1.1 x 1017 J: Mount St. Helens = 25 megatons = 1.6 Tunguskas
1.2 x 1017 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 kilogram at 90% c = 29 megatons
1.3 x 1017 J: energy released by an average hurricane in one day = 31 megatons/day
1.7 x 1017 J: total energy from the Sun that strikes the face of the Earth each second = 42 megatons/sec
1.8 x 1017 J: 1 kilogram of antimatter + 1 kilogram of matter = 43 megatons
2.1 x 1017 J: Tsar Bomba device = 50 megatons (USSR, most powerful nuclear test ever)
2.7 x 1017 J: Star Trek photon torpedo = 1.5 kg antimatter + 1.5 kg matter = 64.3 megatons
3.6 x 1017 J: Earthquake 8.5 on the Richter scale = 85 megatons
5.0 x 1017 J: Earthquake 8.6 on the Richter scale = 120 megatons
5.5 x 1017 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 kilogram at 99% c = 132 megatons
6.3 x 1017 J: 1 Krakatoa = 150 megatons = 6 Mount St. Helens
7.1 x 1017 J: Earthquake 8.7 on the Richter scale = 120 megatons
1.0 x 1018 J: Earthquake 8.8 on the Richter scale = 239 megatons
1.9 x 1018 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 kilogram at 99.9% c = 454 megatons
2.0 x 1018 J: Earthquake 9.0 on the Richter scale = 477 megatons
2.5 x 1018 J: 1 Thera = 600 megatons = 6 Krakatoas
2.8 x 1018 J: Earthquake 9.1 on the Richter scale = 674 megatons
4.0 x 1018 J: Earthquake 9.2 on the Richter scale = 952 megatons
4.0 x 1018 J: energy released by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (between 9.1 and 9.3 on the Richter scale)
4.184 x 1018 J: 1 gigaton = 1000 megatons
6.3 x 1018 J: Relativistic weapon: 1 kilogram at 99.99% c = 1.5 gigatons
1.1 x 1019 J: Earthquake 9.5 on the Richter scale = 3 gigatons
1.8 x 1020 J: 1 metric ton of antimatter + 1 metric ton of matter = 43 gigatons
4.184 x 1021 J: 1 teraton = 1000 gigatons = 1e6 megatons
1.5 x 1022 J: total energy from the Sun that strikes the face of the Earth each day = 4 teratons/day
2.5 x 1022 J: 1 Shoemaker-Levy = 6 teratons = 10,000 Theras
2.0 x 1023 J: Solar flare = 48 teratons
3.4 x 1023 J: 1 Dinosaur Killer = 8e7 megatons = 80,000 gigatons = 80 teratons = 13 Shoemaker-Levys
5.0 x 1023 J: 1 Chicxulub Crater = 120 teratons = 20 Shoemaker-Levys
3.0 x 1024 J: 1 Wilkes Land crater = 720 teratons = 6 Chicxulub Craters
4.184 x 1024 J: 1 petaton = 1000 teratons
5.5 x 1024 J: total energy from the Sun that strikes the face of the Earth each year = 1 petaton/year
3.2 x 1026 J: Energy required blow off Terra's atmosphere = 77 petatons
3.9 x 1026 J: total energy output of the Sun each second = 92 petatons/sec
6.6 x 1026 J: Energy required to heat all the oceans of Terra to boiling = 158 petatons
4.184 x 1027 J: 1 exaton = 1000 petatons
4.5 x 1027 J: Energy required to vaporize all the oceans of Terra = 1 exaton
7.0 x 1027 J: Energy required to vaporize all the oceans of Terra and dehydrate the crust = 2 exatons
2.9 x 1028 J: Energy required to melt the (dry) crust of Terra = 7 exatons
1.0 x 1029 J: Energy required blow off Terra's oceans = 24 exatons
2.1 x 1029 J: Earth's rotational energy = 50 exatons
1.5 x 1030 J: Energy required blow off Terra's crust = 359 exatons
4.184 x 1030 J: 1 zettaton = 1000 exatons
2.9 x 1031 J: Energy required to blow up Terra (reduce to gravel orbiting the sun) = 7 zettatons
3.3 x 1031 J: total energy output of the Sun each day = 8 zettatons/day
5.9 x 1031 J: Energy required to blow up Terra (reduce to gravel flying out of former orbit) = 14 zettatons
2.9 x 1032 J: Energy required to blow up Terra (reduce to gravel and move pieces to infinity) = 69 zettatons
4.184 x 1033 J: 1 yottaton = 1000 zettatons
1.2 x 1034 J: total energy output of the Sun each year = 3 yottatons/year
4.184 x 1036 J: 1 x 1027 tons = 1000 yottatons
6.0 x 1037 J: Nova Persei = 1.4 x 1028 tons
1.2 x 1038 J: total energy output of the Sun in ten thousand years = 2.9 x 1028 tons/deca-millennium
4.184 x 1039 J: 1 x 1030 tons = 1,000,000 yottatons
1.0 x 1040 J: one second's worth of output from a quasar = 2.0 x 1030 tons/sec
1.0 x 1042 J: Energy in photons from a type I supernova = 0.01 foe = 2.7 x 1032 tons
4.184 x 1042 J: 1 x 1033 tons = 1,000,000,000 yottatons
3.0 x 1043 J: Energy needed to make the local superbubble (Supernova Geminga) = 0.3 foe = 7.0 x 1033 tons
1.0 x 1044 J: 1 Foe (ten to the Fifty-One Ergs, unit of supernova strength)
1.0 x 1044 J: Energy in neutrinos from a type I supernova = 1 foe = 2.4 x 1034 tons
1.3 x 1044 J: Total radiant energy from the Sun (approximately ten billion years worth) = 3.1 x 1034 tons/solar lifetime
3.0 x 1044 J: Energy in photons from a type II supernova = 1.3 foes = 7.2 x 1034 tons
1.0 x 1045 J: Gamma-ray burster = 10 foes = 2.4 x 1035 tons
4.184 x 1045 J: 1 x 1036 tons = 1,000,000,000,000 yottatons = 41.84 foes
1.0 x 1046 J: Energy in photons from a hypernova = 100 foes = 2.0 x 1036 tons
3.0 x 1046 J: Energy in neutrinos from a type II supernova = 300 foes = 7.0 x 1036 tons
1.0 x 1048 J: Energy in neutrinos from a hypernova = 10,000 foes = 2.4 x 1038 tons
4.184 x 1048 J: 1 x 1039 tons = 1,000,000,000,000,000 yottatons = 41,840 foes
3.0 x 1069 J: Big Bang (interpretation two)

Interstellar light sails

Solar Sails

Friday, October 15, 2010

CT scan of 300 year old watch

"State-of-the-art X-ray scans have revealed the internal mechanisms of a corroded, barnacle-covered pocket watch recovered from a seventeenth-century wreck. The watch looks little more than a lump of rock from the outside, but the scans show that the mechanism inside is beautifully preserved, from delicate cogwheels and Egyptian-style pillars to the maker's inscription."



Wednesday, October 13, 2010






"The Northrop SM-62 Snark was a specialized intercontinental cruise missile with a nuclear warhead operated by the US Strategic Air Command from 1958 until 1961. It takes its name from Lewis Carroll's snark.
The Snark was developed to offer a nuclear deterrence to the Soviet Union at a time when ICBMs were still in development. It was the only intercontinental surface-to-surface cruise missile ever deployed by the United States Air Force. With the deployment of ICBMs, it was made obsolete and was taken out of service."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sounding rocket footage - Soarex and others

"View from the on-board camera of the Waverider payload after ejection. The NIACS attitude control system (ACS) designed by NSROC can be seen firing its thrusters and spinning-up as part of its stabilization process. From the SOAREX III launch, a project from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA which tests atmospheric reentry concepts from sub-orbital sounding rockets."

"Part of the SOAREX program from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Launched from White Sands, NM."

"NASA SOAREX 7 (condensed) launch video from Wallops Island, VA on May 28, 2009. This was a test of a prototype "TDRV," or Tube Deployed Reentry Vehicle designed and built by NASA Ames Research Center. The TDRV is unique in that it has a deployable, flexible heatshield and utilizes a revolutionary geometry which is entirely self-stabilizing, requiring no alignment or spin-stabilization prior to entry. At 15 seconds, TDRV ejection is seen from the rocket. At 22 seconds, the view switches to TDRV onboard video, and shows the vehicle passively go from a tumbling state to stable nose-down entry."

"NASA video showing several of the agency's high-speed hypersonic projects. The video begins with the HyBoLT and SOAREX experiments lost when the rocket booster veered of course on August 22, 2008 and was destroyed. The video ends with a hypersonic windtunnel run of the SJX61-1 scramjet that will power the X-51 hypersonic demonstrator when it flies in late 2009."

Freedom Phiter - 3x Kosdon motors

Additional footage of freedom phiter. This is obviously lifted from a Pad 39 productions video so it may not stay up forever. Got to love the scream this rocket makes on the way up.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nuclear fission in space

"SNAP-10A was launched from Vandenberg AFB by an ATLAS Agena D rocket on April 3, 1965 into low Earth orbit. Its nuclear electrical source, made up of thermoelectric elements, was intended to produce over 500 watts of electrical power for one year. After 43 days, an onboard voltage regulator within the spacecraft—unrelated to the SNAP reactor itself—failed, causing the reactor core to be shut down. The reactor was left in a 700-nautical-mile (1,300 km) earth orbit for an expected duration of 4,000 years.

An anomalous event in November 1979 caused the vehicle to begin shedding an eventual 50 pieces. A collision has not been ruled out and radioactives may have been released."

A long lasting nuclear reactor will prove essential for missions like JIMO, that use powerful radars or Ion drives past the range of good solar energy (around Mars or so.) Reactors of these kinds will supplement RTGs when more power is needed, but are unlikely to replace RTGs totally for all missions designs. Some probes may need a combination of both technologies.


"Safe Affordable Fission Engine (SAFE) are NASA's small experimental nuclear fission reactors for electricity production in space. Most known is the SAFE-400 reactor producing 400 kW thermal power, giving 100 kW of electric energy using a Brayton cycle gas turbine. The fuel is uranium nitride in a core of 381 pins clad with rhenium. Three fuel pins surround a molybdenum-sodium heatpipe that transports the heat to a heatpipe-gas heat exchanger. This is called a Heatpipe Power System. The reactor is about 50 centimetres (20 in) tall, 30 centimetres (12 in) across and weighs about 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb). It was developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center under the lead of Dave Poston. A smaller reactor called SAFE-30 was made first."


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Square Kilometer Array

"Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is a radio telescope in development which will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometer. It will operate over a wide range of frequencies and its size will make it 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument. It will require very high performance central computing engines and long-haul links with a capacity greater than the current Internet traffic of Europe. It will be able to survey the sky more than ten thousand times faster than ever before. With receiving stations extending out to distance of 3,000 km from a concentrated central core, it will continue radio astronomy's tradition of providing the highest resolution images in all astronomy. The SKA will be built in the southern hemisphere, either in South Africa or Australia, where the view of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is best and radio interference least. With a budget of €1.5 billion, construction of the SKA is scheduled to begin in 2016 for initial observations by 2019 and full operation by 2024.

The SKA is a global collaboration of 20 countries which will revolutionize our understanding of the Universe by providing answers to fundamental questions about its origin and evolution." - Source

SETI 2020: A good read about the future of SETI, perhaps supported largely by this new telescope project.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why certain people are dangerous for science

It is not only insulting, but downright dangerous to have people like this in powerful positions. Many Americans think science is a waste of time, silly, or at least unimportant. They are dead wrong.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Soviet nuclear test: Lake Chagan

"Lake Chagan (or Lake Balapan), Kazakhstan, is a lake created by the Chagan nuclear test fired on January 15, 1965. Often referenced as "Atomic Lake", the crater lake volume is approximately 100,000 m3 (81 acre·ft), and is still radioactive, although it has decayed to the point where people can swim in the lake. As at the Trinity site of the first United States nuclear weapon test in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the exposed rock was melted into a glassy substance."

This appears to be the 500th post at High Power Rocketry.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Superfluous Launch 7

Altitude: 19200 ft, Max Airspeed: 1500 ft / sec - Mach 1.4, Max Accel. 12.4 Gs
Recovered 4 miles NW of site with No Damage.
Backup drogue charge did not fire.

Rocket 122 in long, 5.1 in dia., 60.3 lbs loaded, fiberglass, G-Wiz HCX, Missile Works RRC2.

Team Members / Project Contribution:
Scott Hertel - Launch Controller
Gerald Meux - Motor Hardware / Logistics
James Donald - Rocket / Launch Pad

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Thirty Meter Telescope

"Near the outskirts of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed in 2018, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time."

China Launches Chang’E-2 to the Moon

"China successfully launched their second robotic mission, Chang’E-2, to the Moon. A Long March 3C rocket blasted off from Xichang launch center just before 1100 GMT on October 1. The satellite is scheduled to reach the Moon in five days, and so far, all the telemetry shows everything to be working as planned. It will take some time for Chang’E-2 to settle into its 100-km (60-mile) orbit above the lunar surfaces, although the China space agency also said the spacecraft will come as close as 15km above the surface during its mission in order to take high-resolution imagery of potential landing sites for Chang’E-3, China’s next lunar mission that will send a rover to the Moon’s surface, scheduled for 2013."

More updates from Balls 19

Because I cannot be there in person, and would not have anything big enough to fly anyway, I have to live through youtube videos, and frequently rejected email requests for more information. Sigh.

A nice, high altitude N1000 flight.

A set of highlights. It looks like the Proteus 6.5 is in there.

Jeff Jakob's Team, R-10,000 Hybrid attempt at 150,000 feet

Rocket: 28 feet, 8" diameter