Saturday, October 10, 2009

Launch Report 34: CATO 154

I went to CATO 154 at Salem today. It stopped raining in time for the launch, and the field was pretty dry, but there was a pretty constant wind of 5-15 mph the entire time.

My first flight was the Twofer on a pair of 1/2A3-4Ts. Despite the predilictions of several CATO members, both motors lit and it flew straight as an arrow to about 200 feet despite the winds. Recovery was on a pair of streamers with no damage.

Second flight was the Nantucket Sound on an F12-3J. On the first two attempts, the Copperhead fired but it didn't ignite the motor. (It was later found that that pad's ignition system wasn't working well). I disassembled the motor, removed the bits of burnt copperhead, installed a new one, ans reassmbled the motor, all without allowing the ejection charge to leak into the main cavity and risk a CATO. That's one disadvantage of these Blackjack motors - the nozzles are very small, especially on the reloads, and so it's hard to change igniters.

On the third try, I moved it to a pad with a working electrical system. It ignited after two chuffs and launched with a roar. It went pretty fast to 400 feet - I love that long-burn (3.1 s) motor - and left a thick black smoke trail. It ejected rather past at around 300 feet, which was okay since it was very windy. It came down a bit fast on the 14" homemade nylon chute and popped off a fin, which I glued back on. The F12-3J makes a very good motor for the Nantucket Sound, and indeed the 24/40 reload case and the rocket make a very good pair.

Next came the Bullpup on a B6-4:

It flew fast and straight to around 300 feet and came down without damage on a 6" nylon chute, also homemade. Slightly... boring.

Last was SpaceshipOne on a C6-3. About 30 feet up, it turned and went nearly sideways:

Fortunately, it was angled up enough to reach about 150 to 200 feet of altitude and eject above ground about 400 feet to the side of the pad. It came down safely on an 11" nylon chute.

The following picture is the exact same as the previous, except with Picasa's 'I'm feeling lucky' tool used.

The colored areas show both the smoke trail and variations in the clouds, both of which are invsible in the original picture.

This last picture is a cropped and zoomed version of the original, showing more detail on SpaceShipOne.

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Statistics: 4 flights on 5 motors for 56.5 Ns (39% F)
Total of 141 flights and 169 motors since 9/29/2008.
Total 1495.9 Ns (16.9% K) since 9/29/2008.


@eloh said...

Absolutely fantastic shots of your rockets. You are a skilled photographer on top of everything else.


The EGE said...

The launch pictures were my dad's - I can't take good pictures of stuff in motion. The static pictures of my rockets were significantly helped by putting my mom's camera into action mode - turns out I can't even hold a camera steady!