Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blue Scout Jr.

"The Blue Scout Junior was regarded by the USAF as the most useful of the various Blue Scout configurations. It was used between between 1962 and 1965 by the Air Force to launch suborbital scientific payloads to very high altitudes. The SLV-1B* was effectively identical to the XRM-91, and was launched seven times between July 1963 and June 1965 with magnetospheric experiments as payload. The LV-1B (also known as SLV-1B(m)) was a three-stage variant which omitted the Cetus 4th stage of XRM-91/SLV-1B. The USAF lauchned three LV-1Bs between November 1962 and December 1964 on ion engine test missions. The SLV-1C was another three stage rocket, which replaced the LV-1B's Alcor third stage by an Altair. It was used as the rocket for the MER-6A interim ERCS (Emergency Rocket Communications System) vehicle. The NASA used a three-stage Blue Scout Junior configuration (using the same stages as the LV-1B) as the RAM B."

This is one of the smallest, lightest, rockets able to place payloads into orbit. While not designed or used for this purpose, the Blue Scout Jr. was a very simple rocket (with aerodynamic and spin stabilization) of minimal size. As the amateur community continues to explore rocketry to space, it may prove possible to begin thinking about orbital flights. That is the next logical step, and as the Blue Scout demonstrated, not out of the reach of R, S, and T class motors.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sprint ABM part 3

These are just some new images of the Sprint rocket or the Spartan - Sprint system. There is also a PDF out there (check the Sprint wiki page) with lots of info, but I have yet to read it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Narcon 2009

This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend one day of the two day National Association of Rocketry annual conference. The location was in central CT. New York city rocketry people (me and probably one other guy) are very lucky this year; LDRS will also be very close.

The host, CATO #581, was the first club with which I ever launched (starting with an F50 about 10 years ago now).

Cato Rocketry

The conference was held at the Wethersfield High School. A typical country public school: Huge and really well setup with dozens of classes, a pool, and even a greenhouse!

Only a few vendors were on hand. Many had raffles and sales. I was able to purchase 4.5 24mm F24 reloads for only $4! Obviously this is an incredible deal. (The .5 part refers to one extra propellant grain that didn't come with any other parts. Can't think of a good use for it right now.)

During the day, I attended many lectures:

Here one can see Jennifer Ash Poole leading the lecture: "Beginning Competition Rocketry."  This was a fun talk on some of the basics of competition flying (something that I have never done.)  Many NAR members are VERY serious about competition.  At one point there was a huge debate about "misfire alley" and to be honest, I had no idea what that was. 

These above images are from the next session: "Principles of Hybrid Propulsion."  Kevin O'Classen, obviously an expert in hybrids because he seldom flies any other kind of motor, gave a great introduction to hybrid motors.  The basics were indeed basic, but the talk quickly moved into specifics of safety, GSE (ground support equipment), and motor performance.  The ignition systems were particularly interesting to me because I never knew how the nitrous flow was initiated while the fuel grain was heated at the same time.  It is more complex than you may think!  The investment in GSE is pretty substantial with hybrids, but over a few years a high power flyer will begin to profit because of the lower flight costs.  Also, there is no need for the LEUP process even with M motors!  One interesting project to watch is an upcoming 2 stage hybrid flight at LDRS.  This appears to be the first of it's kind.

___---  Lunch ---___

The next talk was from CSXT team members.  "First amateur rocket to space" was given by Eric Knight, Chet Bacon, Rod Lane, and Don Skinner.  You should remember (if you are a rocketry person or a loyal reader) that the CSXT flew an S 50,150 to space in 2004.  As previously stated, there is a lack of information about all CSXT space attempts.  This matter came up during the presentation also.  Again where are the articles and detailed reports that were on hand after the OuR and RRS Boosted Dart flights?  The OuR project report was the article that got me started in the hobby.  It is really important.  Hopefully future projects will do a better job.  The SS2S already appears to be doing this.

This CSXT talk did help give new information, if informally and only in little bits.  The kind of information (and nice slideshow) that we would all want to see made public.  Say on a certain rocketry web page, perhaps Rocketry Planet for example.  Here are some little tidbits that were noteworthy:

The nose cone was part of the airframe and actually cut free by a linear shaped charge.
The rocket did not become sub-sonic until about 110,000 ft.
This was the first parachute ever deployed in space(?).
The launch crew heard the reentry sonic booms.
The booster fell off the chute around 50,000 ft.
CSXT from start to space spent at least $500,000.
The rocket hit about 8 RPS at burnout, and was very stable.
To test the electronics under spin, a large potters wheel was used.
Falconry transmitters were used for recovery (already knew this but they did stress just how good these things are for rocketry).
The rocket motor may have been only 1 or 2 sec. away from a cato due to burn through.
FAA approval was fairly easy to get; they liked a single monolithic rocket (simple = predictable.)

Always great to hear more about this historical flight.

Next came the "Sugar Shot to Space" presentation by Robert Krech.  This was the main draw of the day for me.  Even more than CSXT, this project is fascinating.  It takes on some very substantial challenges (.82 mass fraction!) and plans to use a totally new motor design: a single motor with two burn periods.  This work, and the likely solid documentation, will be invaluable for all future space attempts.  As with CSXT, I will only list the new information that came up.  For more information, see my previous posts.

Lots of test videos for 75mm motors (static tests).
The use of white paint and later max. temp. tags to record thermal conditions.
Nose cone structure:  Silicon (cone?) ablative over kevlar honeycomb over ceramic reinforcement.
Nose cone tip:  Possible phenolic composite ablative, similar ablative on the fin tips.
Airframe at first expected to be titanium, but now may be carbon fiber gas pipe.

The burnout mass of the rocket will be on the order of 250 lbs!  .82 mass fraction!  This is a pro level mass fraction.  If anyone were to combine this efficiency with APCP, 100 miles would be a reasonable target with the same airframe.  SS2S is the biggest deal in amateur rocketry this decade.  Let's see how they finish up.

Sugar Shot to Space

Finally, I was able to attend a talk called "Materials in Sport Rocketry." Doc Damerau runs a web page that reports on some very intensive testing of many rocketry materials. Please visit this web page for more information. One shocking observation was that a 220 lbs. rated quick link carabineer failed at more than 2000 lbs!


Overall, for a small registration fee, I got lots of great lectures, 4.5 F motors for $4, and a free 24mm kit (see the Narcon logo for the kit they were giving out).  This was a great time, and obviously anyone who did not attend this year should think about next time.  Or at least come out to LDRS!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Apogalacticon and the army of the dark empire!

We all know Apogee and Perigee from rocketry work, and also those of us in the deep space camp often use the helion, astron, jove, lune... but here are a few new ones to boot. Apogalacticon is the best, and also probably the most crazy orbit you can have in this Universe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We won (maybe for real this time)


March 18, 2009

After a conference with our legal counsel, we provide the following information to our members on how to proceed in the aftermath of the favorable decision by Judge Walton in our lawsuit to eliminate the unjustified regulation of Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP) imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). We cannot offer legal advice to individual members, and members should consult their own legal counsel if there are any questions about how to proceed.

First, we should assume that the judge's decision "vacating", or rendering null and void, the BATFE regulation of APCP will not take effect until the period for appeal by the BATFE has passed without their filing an appeal. This will be approximately 60 days from now.However, even if an appeal is filed, it is possible for the Court's judgment to be in effect and BATFE regulation to be nullified while the appeal is pending. We will advise you if this is this is the case.

If BATFE should appeal the decision, regardless of the fact that there is almost no credible basis for such an appeal or for the appeal to be approved by the Department of Justice, we should await the results of the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals before assuming that BATFE no longer regulates APCP in the long term. However, unless the appellate court grants the agency a "stay of judgment" (which they may request, should they appeal) final judgment will be considered in effect at the end of the 60 day period mentioned above. At that time, the Judge Walton's decision will take effect and could only be nullified by an overturn on appeal. Should the appellate court grant BATFE a stay of judgment, we will have to await the decision of the court before Judge Walton's decision would be considered final and in effect.
An appeal could take up to six months, and possibly more time. If there is no appeal, then the regulations are automatically cancelled even if BATFE chooses not to publish a notice of such cancellation.

We will keep our members advised of the status of any appeals and will let you know the exact official date on which the regulations are no longer in effect. After this official date, you will not be required to have BATFE licenses or be subject to BATFE inspection or oversight for sport rocketry operations with APCP in any quantity and should show a copy of the Court judgment to any BATFE agent who takes an opposite position.

Second, members should proceed for now on the basis that all these BATFE regulations remain in effect. Appropriate licenses are still required to buy, sell, possess, and/or store APCP until such time as the regulations are cancelled. If you have a license up for renewal between now and late May (or whatever later date may be determined by any BATFE appeal process), you will have to renew it if you wish to perform any of these transactions.
Third, once the regulations are canceled, members are reminded that high-power user certifications are still required for purchasing or using high-power motors even if BATFE licenses are not. We have a great reputation as a self-regulating group of responsible hobbyists and our future success in defending the freedom we just won back could depend on maintaining this reputation.

Fourth, this Court decision did not change the regulated status of other sport rocketry items such as black powder, some kinds of igniters, etc. To the extent that any of these items previously required licenses and magazine storage, nothing has changed. Nor does the decision affect licensing and regulation by other federal, state or local government agencies.
We thank our members for their continued patience and for their sustained moral and financial support as we have fought this long battle successfully together.

Ken Good, President
Tripoli Rocketry Association

Trip Barber, President
National Association of Rocketry

BATFE LEUP may no longer be needed in HPR rocketry, or at least in reasonable amounts.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Project Orion

There is a great post over at Dick's Rocket Dungeon on Project Orion. This has to be one of the most exciting proposed forms of space exploration. Using 1950s technology only... it was possible to use Nuclear bombs to propel a large spacecraft at very high speeds. Fast enough to take lots of payload to Mars and beyond, even manned trips to Jupiter or Saturn! Check out that delta V for a 910 day Jupiter mission! 200,000 FPS for 20 men! (Imagine what happens if the bomb pulse system fails on the way out...) Please read the full post (it was a few days back, scroll down the page):

Rocket Dungeon

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soviet dog flights to space

"Laika (meaning "Barker") - died during a mission (Sputnik 2, November 1957)
Lisichka (meaning "Little Fox") and Bars (meaning "Panther" or "Lynx") - died during a test flight on July 28, 1960
Strelka (meaning "Little Arrow") , Belka (meaning "Squirrel"), 40 mice, 2 rats and a number of plants - safely recovered from Korabl'-Sputnik-2. Launched August 19, 1960, it orbited the Earth 18 times. This was the first successful recovery of living biological specimens after an orbital mission. Strelka later gave birth to a litter of 6 healthy puppies; one was given to President John F. Kennedy as a gift.
Pchelka (meaning "Little Bee") and Mushka (meaning "Little Fly")- died when Korabl'-Sputnik-3 re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at the wrong angle and burned up, (launched December 1, 1960)
Damka (meaning "Little Lady") and Krasavka (meaning "Beauty") - Launched December 22, 1960, but the third stage of the SL-3 rocket failed, and the orbital launch was aborted; the two dogs survived an unplanned suborbital flight.
Chernushka (meaning "Blackie"), a dummy cosmonaut (known as "Ivan Ivanovich"), a few mice and a guinea pig - launched March 9, 1961.
Zvezdochka (meaning "Little Star") and a dummy cosmonaut in a space suit - launched on March 25, 1961 and orbited once in final preparation for the Vostok 1 mission. Zvezdochka was named by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
Verterok or Veterok (meaning "Breeze") and Ugolyok or Ugolek (meaning "Little Piece of Coal") were launched on February 22, 1966, in the satellite Kosmos 110. This was a 22-day mission. "

Source - Zoom astronomy