Friday, December 21, 2007

Sea Dragon

"Sea Dragon was an immense, sea-launched, two-stage launch vehicle designed by Robert Truax for Aerojet in 1962. It was to be capable of putting 1.2 million pounds (550 tonnes) into low Earth orbit. The concept was to achieve minimum launch costs through lower development and production costs. This meant accepting a larger booster with a lower performance propulsion system and higher stage dead weight then traditional NASA and USAF designs."

This was one of the many great plans for a cheap, giant rocket that could do in several launches what years of shuttle launches could not. This rocket could, among other things, launch a large mars mission in only a few flights, launch a Keck sized (10 meter) telescope into space, or build the ISS in a few flights. The rocket would be very cheap because it would use simple technology to build, and also because of the large size - large rockets are generally more cost efficient.

"Manufacturer: Truax. LEO Payload: 450,000 kg (990,000 lb). to: 185 km Orbit. at: 90.00 degrees. Liftoff Thrust: 350,000.000 kN (78,680,000 lbf). Total Mass: 18,000,000 kg (39,000,000 lb). Core Diameter: 23.00 m (75.00 ft). Total Length: 150.00 m (490.00 ft). Launch Price $: 300 million. in: 1962 price dollars."


*Update: Here is a great new image of this rocket showing you the inner workings to some extent. I personally would suggest using a cluster of solid motors in the lower stage of this rocket. Solids are highly robust (survive a sea journey better I would guess) and are even cheaper than this rocket was designed to be (already an improvement). I would think to add a large (75 Million LBS thrust) cluster of 4 motors on the order of 10 meters DIA each. These motors could be monolithic (formed in one piece), and could be clustered or lengthened to almost arbitrary rocket size. Need to eventually upgrade to 2 million lbs LEO? Add three more solids in the booster stage. I know this sounds like speculation, but I am convinced that the cheapest launchers will all start with solid rocket motors, be very large, and be designed with simplicity in mind.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

M to M flight

Rump Aerospace takes a two stage 3" diameter rocket to almost 50,000 feet in the rich, colorful and exciting black rock desert.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Phreedom Phiter

This great rocket, flown a few years ago, contains I think 3 Kosdon M-3000 motors, or something along those lines. Very nice sound, would have been better in person. No rocketry people are not perverts, the voice on the video is a normal reaction to such a sound. You all would have done the same.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A sub scale SRB static fire

"November 2nd, 2007 An amazing sight lit up and roared in the Utah desert Thursday (11-1-07) and it was witnessed by many wanting to check it out. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) test fired a reusable solid rocket motor, the type that is used to launch the space shuttle. Engineers test fired NASA's four segment reusable solid rocket motor at ATK's facility Box Elder County, Utah. The RSRM spewed a huge stream of fire and smoke as dozens of kids and kids at heart watched, listened and felt the power of the rocket at full throttle. The booster rocket generates an average of two point six million pounds of thrust. This is comparable to 12 jumbo jets running at full throttle. Engineers conduct the tests to maintain safety standards on the shuttle. The tests also prep engineers for the development of other rocket systems."

Monday, November 5, 2007

"A concept image shows the Ares V Earth departure stage and lunar surface access module docked with the Orion crew exploration vehicle in Earth orbit. The departure stage, powered by a J-2X engine, is needed to escape Earth's gravity and send the crew vehicle and lunar module on their journey to the moon."

Basically, we have spent almost 40 years to get back to the same place. Brilliant work as always from the political NASA.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Full X wing footage

A great model, a great attempt that is. It is important to note that these guys are serious rocketry people, this was not just a slapped together project. They simply did not built it well enough - but this isnt just cramming motors into a model and blowing it up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Aerospike Engine

A high power type Aerospike motor - basically an inverted bell where the flame is built around a graphite spike. Very nice! I bet hobby motors could use this technology.

This is the big kind - bi-propellant. It would be very important to use a motor like this for a single stage to orbit rocket, because it would allow for high efficiency (isp) over a range of altitudes. However staged rockets are by far more efficient overall - single stage to orbit is a hard and costly thing!

Still complex on the inside.

"The aerospike engine is a type of rocket engine that maintains its aerodynamic efficiency across a wide range of altitudes through the use of an aerospike nozzle. For this reason the nozzle is sometimes referred to as an altitude-compensating nozzle. A vehicle with an aerospike engine uses 25–30% less fuel at low altitudes, where most missions have the greatest need for thrust. Aerospike engines have been studied for a number of years and are the baseline engines for many single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) designs and were also a strong contender for the Space Shuttle main engine. However, no engine is in commercial production. The best large-scale aerospikes are still only in testing phases.

The terminology in the literature surrounding this subject is somewhat confused — the term aerospike originally was used for a (very roughly conically tapering) truncated plug nozzle with some gas injection to form an 'air spike' to help make up for the absence of the tail of the plug. However, frequently, a full-length plug nozzle is now described as being an aerospike." wiki

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Target: Horsehead Nebula in Orion.
Uranometria map: 226
Centered at: 5h 38m, -03 degrees
Exposure: 30 minutes
Film: Hypered Kodak Technical Pan and a #92 filter
Also imaged: M42 (the Orion Nebula), M43, NGC 2024 (the Flame Nebula), B33 (the Horsehead Nebula)

By: Kent Kirkley (c)

The Schmidt Camera is a telescope - camera that takes very wide angle shots. Ideal for nebulae and other large objects like comets.

More images

Monday, October 1, 2007

Largest RC Plane (maybe?)

I don't know if this is really the largest yet flown, as I have seen others very big. If you count military aircraft, obviously this is not. I do also love the large Jet RCs that I see out there. Anyway this thing is a beast, and it is pretty scary to see this guy hand start each engine with the other right next to his arm and leg, ready to remove some body part. I wonder what the top speed - range for this craft would be? Have RC planes (of this kind, I suppose still a hobby craft) crossed the English Channel?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cluster Bomb (Scatterbomb) Warhead

Not all nose cones are good. With rockets there is a huge contrast - either they are doing something noble for all humanity, like the titans that sent two voyagers into deep space with a gilded disk, a billion year time capsule of humanity, or they carry a weapon of mass destruction. Rockets are like that, they can be so polar, diametrical opposites, but that is why they are so great; how can you compete with the wonder that is rocket science?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Shock (Mach) Diamonds


Shock diamonds are formed when the exhaust (or any other flow) exits a nozzle supersonically and at a pressure different than that of the ambient atmosphere, i.e., the nozzle is either underexpanded or overexpanded. Because the flow is supersonic, the adjustment to the atmospheric pressure is through waves; these are initially either oblique shocks or Prandtl-Meyer fans. As the waves reflect from the edges of the jet, they change polarity, i.e., an expansion fan reflects as a compression wave and a compression shock reflects as an expansion fan. Thus, both types will ultimately be present. In the above sketch, the nozzle is taken to be overexpanded so that the initial wave system is comprised of oblique shock waves.

Each type of wave will intersect its counterpart originating at the other side of the jet or nozzle exit at the plane or line of symmetry. Because of the symmetry, the intersection can be modeled as a reflection from a rigid wall. It is well known that shock waves may reflect from rigid walls either as a regular reflection or a Mach reflection. The case of a Mach reflection is depicted in the above sketch. In the case of an axisymmetric jet, the Mach stem is a Mach disk which is recognized as the shock diamonds seen in the exhaust of many high speed aircraft.

Because of repeated reflections and re-reflections, several Mach stems will appear until the disturbances are damped out by viscous effects.

The situation for an underexpanded nozzle is essentially the same. As pointed out above, the expansion wave converts into a compression wave upon reflection from the contact surface, i.e., the edge of the jet. The Mach lines then converge to form a compression shock which may then undergo a Mach reflection similiar to that in the case of the overexpanded nozzle.

Thats how the pros explain it, I just say the more the better. The best part of a rocket is the flame, lets face it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nuclear War

Not everything shooting through space is a good thing. Here are two MIRV tests. These all came from one rocket, as I understand it, and hit targets in the pacific at high mach speeds. The trails are marked by, I think, incandescent plasma as a result of heating from such fast objects. It is shocking that they can maintain such high speeds for so long - all the way to impact it seems. Granted they may be 1000 lbs each, and inside a very compact package that is aerodynamic, but still machs of 5, 10, or even more are hard to sustain without tons of rocket power. Much of nuclear war is still unknown, probably for the best.

This last image shows what the two tests would have done to New York.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

View from a Space Shuttle SRB

Life is hard when you travel back and forth to space all the time, then crash land in the ocean. I bet you would have wanted to be born a monolithic motor : )

Monday, July 23, 2007

LDRS 16 Video

Great video of some flights from LDRS - one of the biggest national high power events during the year. If you cant watch all 8:00 of this video, skip to the last 45 sec. to see a pretty great flight: a huge rocket going very high, but also doing something big rockets seldom survive.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Warp 9 - A discussion of rocket motors

A rocket gets off to a very fast start on a new type of propellant - Warp 9

Rocket motors come in many different forms. There are disposable motors and re-loadable motors in which you keep some parts and build it yourself each time you fly. These have various pros and cons, and and move from largely disposable in the lower power levels to mostly reusable in the upper levels.

Motors are named a letter first, this is the total impulse (total power, size) of the motor. This starts out at A, and doubles with each letter after so that a B = 2As and a C = 2Bs. This continues as far as you want to go. Sometimes we discuss Nasa rocket motors and call them Ws or X motors. The largest hobby rocketry motor is the O, anything larger is no longer hobby but amateur. Next you have a number, the average impulse (or thrust) in Newtons. Newtons are a measure of force that can be converted into Lbs. Finally you may have a number, such as 5, 7, or 10. In some motors there is an ejection delay that automatically ejects the recovery system. This is very common in smaller motors (and almost universal in motors smaller than G), and the number represents the delay time in Sec. And after this you may have a letter such as T, SS, W, R.... This represents the type of propellant in the motor. Here is a list of the Aerotech types:

T - Blue Thunder Propellant - producing a violet blue flame (fast burning).
W - White Lightning Propellant - Producing a white flame with dense smoke (moderate).
J - Black Jack Propellant - producing dense black smoke (slow).
R - Redline Propellant - producing a bright red flame (moderate - fast).
And the new warp 9 as seen above - A very fast, clean burning propellant.

The warp 9 motors are so strong that they are ideal for getting rockets to high speeds.

*Edit* There is now a new propellant on the way out called Majve Green. Obviously it makes a green flame, it is moderate - fast burning like Redline, and has a very high ISP (efficient) like Warp 9. Great times we live in!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Super nova payloader

This is it! After about 2 years off, I have returned to hobby rocketry. As a result of several issues, the biggest being new BATF regulations that make the hobby of high power very expensive and hard to deal with, particularly for NYC residents, I will start out slow and stick to mid and low power work. I have a rocket ready that will be great on D and 2x24mm reload clusters. Also, I got a new Super Nova Payloader and will fly that on single 24mm motors of all kinds. All of my larger rockets remain, but some are in need of a ton of work. They will be set aside for quite a while, only the smaller kits will fly for now. However I feel it is important to relearn and do better at low and mid power work and only later move up organically. All too often people in this hobby, myself included, get forced into this passion for higher levels of certification, faster flights and greater altitudes, but I think that can ruin the fun. I have never seen a flight better than my first composite motor - a SNP (the one seen above) on an E15. PERFECTION. Expect a launch report soon! Here is a video of a Super Nova Payloader on D power:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Saturn V Large Scale Cutaway

Enjoy this all time great rocket, one of the most sexy yet made. If only we had a few left for large scale missions to mars or the outer planets, or to launch large space telescopes (a folding 30 foot mirror could probably be made to fit on top of a modified Saturn). I know it probably cost a ton, but so does the space shuttle.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Project Tupelo

This is project Tupleo, one of the best I have seen so far. See below for the details.

"I had this project in mind prior to the start of my two 2002 projects, the M-Python and the Shock Value. This project combines those two rockets into a two-stage configuration. The objective is to get the highest possible altitude out of my M1315 motor used as a booster. For some reason, I got stuck trying to come up with a name for this project. Whenever I get stuck on something, I've found that the best thing to do is ask the question "What would Elvis do?". If I was Elvis, I would name it "Tupelo."

More about Tupelo

Friday, June 1, 2007

Sprint ABM Video

You may remember a post I did a long time ago about the sprint system. This is a great video of the sprint in action. Here is some basic Sprint info for you:

"This is the sprint system. It was a two stage rocket with a 1 KT Neutron bomb to take out the IRVs via explosive force and neutron flux. It worked up to 100,000 feet, and could hit more than mach 10. It was about 7,700 lbs, but took off with 650,000 lbs of thrust. Acceleration was 100 Gs."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rocket sled?

I honestly do not know exactly what this is. I suspect it is a rocket launched sled used to crash test an object. If that is the case, I suppose the main explosion would either be some charge used to send it on the way, or the sonic overpressure as it broke mach. I suspect that the other sounds are hits on the rail and the crash at the end. But I really don't know, this is just my guess. Anyone here with more information please comment your ideas or what you know.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Methane Engine

"NASA contractors Alliant Techsystems and XCOR Aerospace are developing a rocket engine powered by liquid methane. Earlier this year the companies conducted a series of successful test firings of their 7,500 pound-thrust LOX/methane engine . Such technology could one day allow for the exploration of deep space, as methane can be found or made on many worlds throughout our solar system."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

NASA Trajectory Design Tool

"Ever try to shoot a slow-flying duck while standing rigidly on a fast rotating platform, and with a gun that uses bullets which curve 90° while in flight?" This question appeared in the July 1963 issue of Lab-Oratory, in an article about spacecraft trajectory design. Today, computer-generated plots and animations are used to calculate the path of spacecraft during a flyby.

The trajectory design model shown above allowed Mariner mission planners during mission development in 1967 to illustrate the orientation of the planet and calculate the the expected path of the Mariner 6 and 7 spacecraft, as well as the window of opportunity for the instruments and television cameras to operate during the flyby.

Image credit: NASA/JPL

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Falcon 1 Onboard Launch

"SpaceX demo2 rocket launch in March.

• A privately funded rocket launches from a Pacific atoll Tuesday
• The rocket reached space but re-entered the Earth's atmosphere after half an orbit because of a problem during the second-stage burn, an entrepreneur said
• Falcon 1 is a 70-foot long, 2-stage rocket powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene
• SpaceX founder Elon Musk was a co-founder of PayPal Inc."

Note the 2nd stage motor nozzle almost instantly start to glow red with heat. Great stuff. Sorry to hear that it didn't make a full orbit, but this was still a great flight. I did notice some significant yaw late into the 2nd stage burn, maybe this had something to do with the lack of performance? Rockets really tend to shake and rattle and yaw and pogo if you don't balance them perfectly. But when you think about it, I would say this was a pretty smooth ride for mach 5, 10, and 15.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Delta III Solid Rockets Fall Away

There is nothing like the power of solid rockets, but they cost a ton, are less efficient, and are not so great for the environment.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Rocket in a supersonic wind tunnel

"This 1963 photograph shows vent flowing cryogenic fuel and T/C Rake mounted on a 1/10 scale model Centaur rocket in the Supersonic Wind Tunnel at the Glen Rsearch Center. The fuel being tested is liquid hydrogen. Such tests were conducted to determine how far to expel venting fuel from the rocket body to prevent explosion at the base of the vehicle. The vent is used as a safety valve for the fumes created when loading the fuel tanks during launch preparation. Liquid hydrogen has to be kept at a very low temperature. As it heats it turns to gas and increases pressure in the tank, and, therefore, has to be vented overboard while the rocket sits on the pad."

Image Credit: NASA

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Project Courage

The Courage is a very high performance (dart) hybrid N class rocket project by MB Rocketry that can probably break 30,000 feet. Check it out to see the whole building process and other projects.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Gregs Altitude Attempt

--Test flight with small motors--

"The goal of this rocket is to achieve a Canadian altitude record in excess of 10 000 feet under the staged rocket category. There are no previous records in the category. If the goal is met, it will be higher than the Tripoli Rocketry Association record as well. This rocket is designed to fly on an F10-4 booster, a E6-4 second stage and a final E6-8 sustainer engine. The total impulse is 155ns, just under the new CAR rules stating that a multi-stage rocket must follow strict guidelines when 160ns or more total impulse is installed. A thermalite/flashbulb igniter is being used to ignite the 2nd and 3rd stage because of low current requirements and better reliability than copperheads."

There is nothing like the complexity of a 3 stage rocket - you can probably count the number of high power 3 stage rockets that were launched without problems in the history of the hobby in two digits. But if this rocket ever does fly on full power, it will be impressive indeed.

3 Stage Rocket Science

Monday, January 22, 2007


The SORAC Project was initiated in 1995 as a Civil Experimental Aerospace endeavor. The first goal is to place a totally non-government funded vehicle into internationally recognized space, 62 statute miles straight up. The group numbers about 30 persons across the USA, with a local contingent of about 10 persons performing the actual mechanical work on the vehicles.

All vehicles use the safe and inert-till-fueled Hybrid Propulsion System. The fuel grain itself is essentially rubber as found in your automotive tires. The oxidizer is Racing Nitrous you find at Race Tracks around the country. The Nitrous is added at the launch site when the vehicle is mated to its 58 foot launch tower. So the vehicle is totally inert up until moments before launch.

From its inception, the Project has added additional tasks including the design of a Flight Computer that is outstanding in its design and utility. It will soon be offered to outside users with the need for data logging, GPS downlinking, Manchester Encoded Telemetry, and the control of up to 8 onboard functions.

The SORAC Vehicles also feature flight termination so an errant unit will have the motor shut down and reverse thrust applied as well as removing the nose cone for increased drag and recovery of the Flight Computer.

The project is always open to new volunteers and financial assistance.
To volunteer or offer assistance in any way, please contact Bill Colburn at:
1-831 637-2442

P.O. Box 204,
Hollister, CA 95024

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Russian N1

The N1: The biggest rocket yet, also among the most complex, and with one of the worst rates of failure. Was a last ditch effort to carry russians to the moon.

N1 Linky