March 2009 launch report (4/3/2009)
On Saturday, March 28th, MASA held its first
launch of the year. It was held on the VFW soccer
fields near Elk River. The turnout of people was quite good.
Since the January and February launches had been canceled due to
poor weather, everyone was eager to fly some rockets!
The day wasn't terribly warm - starting out about 30 degrees at
9am and warming up to near 40 degrees by the time that the launch
wound down after 1 pm. Winds were light and variable, but
mostly out of the north to northeast. Periods of near-calm
were perfect for flying some rockets.
The Hope Christian Academy TARC team was on hand, and they made a
number of flights of their rocket - "Dead Cow". [see details
below] Scott, Andy, and Aidan Heaton put up a total of 12
flights including a really nice flight of their Super Big Bertha on
a F12-5. Jim, Heather, and Eric Myers also made 12 flights on
a variety of rockets - one of which was a really big upscale Flying
Jenny. Other rocketeers flying that day included Todd
Carpenter, Ted Cochran, Alan Estenson, Glen Overby, Dave
Schaffhausen, Dwayne Shmel, and Jeff Taylor. Thanks to
everyone for helping kick off MASA's 2009 flying season!
Thanks also to everyone who helped pack up the range equipment!
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Art Gibbens writes:
"The death of Dead Cow"
So, what's black and white and red all over? (With emphasis
on the all over the launch area part of the question.) Why that
would be Hope Christian Academy's rocket, named Dead Cow for its
unique paint scheme, after the Cato of one of their E9-8 motors
on their last planned flight of the day. If you were at the
launch yesterday you witnessed the HCA team trying to get a good
enough qualifying score to once again head to the finals of Team
America Rocketry Challenge for 2009. You probably also saw their
final flight of the competition for this year.
HCA flew a total of six flights and here is how the saga
unfolded. Their first flight was based on what RocSim predicted
they would need to hit the marks of 45 seconds aloft and 750
feet in altitude. They were using three D12-7 motors with some
80 grams of ballast on board, in addition to the ballast they
were using to compensate for an egg. Well, that's why they call
it a prediction because they only got 426 feet of altitude and a
time of 27.37. So they decided to keep their engine profile the
same and lighten the rocket by removing all excess ballast.
Results were disappointing at 545 feet and 39.2 seconds. Now
they were in a quandary. They had to decide what engine
combination to use to try to get more height and yet not
endanger the egg with too long of a delay. They decided to use
E9-6 and E9-8 engines along with two D12-7 engines on their last
four flights of the day. The third flight had no additional
ballast, similar to their second flight and they went 795 feet
with a time of 58.4. They got real excited after this flight as
it was a real morale booster because the first two flights had
been disappointing. So they added some ballast back to the
rocket and reloaded it again, this time with an egg to ensure
that they could fly their rocket and recover the egg without
breaking it. On this fourth flight they launched while the winds
were gusting and the rocket tipped into the wind causing them to
only attain an altitude of 638 feet with a time of 44.6 seconds.
So they know they are down to their last two flights and
decide to make no changes to the weight of the rocket and to
refly as is. So they ask for two impartial NAR members to be
timers and observers for this flight and hit the launch button.
Rats! Only two of the three motors light and they get a safe
qualified flight of 303 feet and an average time of 24.32 which
gives them a score of 395.64 to submit. On their final flight,
again they decide to make no changes to the amount of ballast
they have on board and to reload using their last E9-8 to make
their final qualifying launch. And that's when disaster struck,
with the Cato blowing out the side of rocket causing one fin to
flap in the breeze during flight and spewing confetti that was
once their rocket around the launch pad. Even amidst the
catasphrophy the two D12-7 engines both lit and they were able
to attain an altitude of 208 feet with the safe recovery of the
egg. However, the rules stipulate that if a team does have a
Cato during a qualifying launch attempt that they would be
allowed a do-over.
HCA's Dead Cow is history however, as most of the Cato
propellant grain ended up forward of the engine mount while
still burning which resulted in the wall of the air frame to be
burnt through from the inside out. The recovery wadding did a
great job of keeping the parachutes protected during this burn,
however the shock cord was charred through causing the sustainer
to fall to the ground as the parachute fluttered down beside it.
The damage to the rocket is too severe to repair and there is
not enough time to rebuild so they have to hope that their first
score will get them to finals. For you see, yesterday was the
first day of their spring break and even though there is another
week until the contest is closed to make qualifying flights,
there is no way that the team can get together to rebuild the
rocket to fly it next weekend. Most of them will be away on
vacation, so it was do or die time at the launch yesterday. And
they fought valiantly.
Todd Carpenter writes:
It was a good day at the range. Met super nice people, talked
with some smart kids, launched rockets, and got lightly sun
burned. What'snot to like?
My Screaming Mimi's first flight suffered launch rod whip and
nearly went ballistic. No damage sustained, and I cleaned out
the lug so it
should fit on the proper size rod in the future... Heard the
"scream" when it was high in the air, not so much when it was
The Flis Fric'n'Frac was a blast. B6-0 to a C6-0, and Alan
launched it in a perfect calm, so it went straight up. The
sustainer spun like a top on the way up and down. I can hardly
wait to launch it again.
Dwayne and I raced Death Stars. He was kind enough to
let my Death Star go up first, so it wasn't much of a race... My
Death Star booster lost a fin. Dwayne's Death Star's trip on a D
was awesome. Wow. Those Clone Troopers didn't know what hit 'em.
I then launched a Baby Bertha modified with hooks to boost a
couple Edmunds Elcie Gs. Both pilots had trouble controlling
their craft, #1 was a lawn dart (pilot sustained a minor
concussion), the other pulled up at the last minute and flared
for a nice landing.
Finally it was time for my Steampunk Comet's first flight.
Fabricated claims aside, Jeff's great pictures make it look
*better*... :) Flight was fine, no damage. Got some good tips
from Ted on how to beef up fins, in theme, to limit future
I saw reusable composite 18mm motors for the first time...
Interesting what some of those rockets do on Ds. The first was
Scott's Big Berth on a D. That was impressive. You should've
there to see Dwayne's pink pyramid go up on a D8000 (or
something). Last night I ordered some from valuerockets.com
. I swore a long time ago that I wouldn't let this hobby get
expensive. Harumph. You're all bad influences.
Thanks, Alan, for RSOing, and Jeff for the terrific photos!
Full launch tally (PDF)
The totals were: 58 flights, 76 motors.
The cumulative total impulse was 950 Ns with an average total impulse of 12.5 Ns.
The motor breakdown follows: