Monday, October 17, 2016

Antares OA-5 viewing

The rocket was clearly visible from my front yard. The first stage was brighter than the 2nd, probably because it was dropping from view as the rocket proceeded down range. I had a point-and-shoot camera on a tripod with the longest aperture I could get (8 sec.). The results were less than spectacular as the photos were shaky. I don't know if the act of pushing the button got the tall, cheap tripod shaking slightly or if the camera's autofocus made it jiggle. Oh well, there are plenty of good photos already out there. I'm sure this isn't the last Wallops night launch...until next time.

Rocket model with a model

Atlas Centaur for Saturn, 1960

Atlas Collection Image


General Dynamics concept art, 1957

Atlas Collection Image

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Launch Report 2016-9 (MDRA)

Location: Central Sod Farm, Centreville, MD, ESL-220
Weather: sunny, mid 60's, wind ~5
Total flights: Today - 4; YTD - 66
Total motors: Today - 4; YTD - 84
Motors by class YTD: MMX-1, 1/2A-2, A-17, B-2, C-28, D-7, E-10, F-7, G-10

This was an extremely strange launch for me. Every flight had potentially catastrophic issues but, somehow, 3 out of 4 came home unscathed. See the individual reports.

My only regret was that I had to leave before Tom Cohen's big rocket flew.

My Flights:
  1. Gene Wilder Memorial Fronkensteen Hat on an F44 -  This one supun around wildly. I have plans to re-do it for next year.
  2. Estes Mega Mosquito on an F15-4 - I didn't used the Chute Release as the wind had pretty much died out. The chute tangled and I thought it was going to be a goner. However, it was saved by a small tree. What luck!
  3. Estes Ventris on a G74-6 - Chute Release @ 200' - It took 4 tries but it had a nice high flight with ejection near apogee. The Chute Release was supposed to let go at 200'. Instead, the 'chute opened at about 20'. I assume it just took a while to shake loose (?). Amazingly, that was enough altitude to recover successfully. More luck!
  4. Standard Cray-ARM on a G185-5 - Chute Release @ 300' - I checked with AMW to make sure the forward closure wasn't one of the bad ones. It wasn't. The boost was really fast. It had a nice bonus delay which resulted in a pucker factor of 10. I was sure the delay had snuffed out. However, it ejected below the Chure Release altitude and recovered unharmed. Also lucky!
If the embedded album doesn't work, click the photo to go to Flickr:


Friday, October 14, 2016

Antares OA-5 launch visibility

The Antares OA-5 will launch from the Wallops Flight Facility this Sunday and should be widely visible up and down the East Coast. It will launch no earlier than 8:03 PM. Watch NASA TV for real time updates. I have dusted off the Wallops app and will be watching. The app shows Wallop's location from where ever you are located.

Orbital has been good enough to highlight the visibility from various locations here. The summary for the DC area:

  1. Antares will reach 5 degrees about 1 minute and 45 seconds after launch.
  2. It will reach a maximum elevation of about 13 degrees (your fist at the end of your outstretched arm is about 10 degrees mas o menos).
  3. The solid motor on the 2nd stage will be the most visible and will ignite at L+4 minutes and 23 seconds.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Slight touch-up, including the bolts...

...because we wouldn't want him to lose his head!

The Gene Wilder Fankensteen Memorial Hat

Presenting the Gene Wilder Fronkensteen Memorial Hat

Well, I went and did it again...Brian Coyle suggested a name and I stole his idea. Now, Brian, if you want to go ahead and order a motor and have it drop-shipped to me, I'll put your name on the flight card too. LOL. Thanks for the ideas!

The Gene Wilder Fankensteen Memorial Hat

The green paint wasn't foam safe but didn't eat too much when applied lightly. I DID use foam safe paint for the black hair. However, it ran down Frankie's forehead and I made a royal mess of that. I had to backfill a bit with Fill'n'Finish, To top it off, most of that area was covered by the wraps of thin foam that I glued to his forehead just to snug up the Hat. I will touch-up the small bit that peeks out below that wrap, although it doesn't matter much since it is under the Hat. If it becomes visible at the launch, the flight didn't go so well anyway.

I think there is a 75% chance this contraption will spin wildly and the foam head will be toast. It will go off the HPR pads on a 1/4" rod. I'm leaning towards an F44 for the first flight to minimize the carnage. If it works, a G74 will be next.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Well, I guess I will build the Frankenstein head odd-roc afterall

Last night, Brian Coyle's idea of putting the Hat of Death on the foam Frankenstein head popped to mind. It bounced around for a while and I decided to build something!

The Hat itself fits pretty loosely so I'll have to do something to snug it up.

I considered a cluster of three canted 24mm mounts but decided that would be too much work and probably a waste of my precious E9 firecrackers. So, one motor it is. I'm thinking about using an F44 but am putting in a 29mm  mount just in case.

I also briefly considered a foamboard body with the legs and arms being the fins. However, the move to a single motor pushed that thought aside. I think I'll go with a lower plate so the end result will resemble a spool rocket of sorts. I built a high power spool that works well but all my small spool-like rockets seemed to spin end-over-end. So, this might result in one of those "really cool flights."

So, if the paint doesn't eat the foam (I will test it) and if I don't break it up while reaming a hole for a 1/4" rod, I may have a rocket in a few days.

So, what should I name it? Franken Hat? The Frank of Death? Brianstrein? FrankenCoyle? Frahnkensteen?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System

Today, Elon Musk revealed his concept of how to get to Mars and beyond - the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). He would like to send 100 people on an 80-150 day trip to the Red Planet. The BFS rocket will have a 12m booster and the spaceship will measure 17m. The stack will 122m tall. The booster will produce 127,800 kN (28,730,00 lb-f) of thrust and, of course, will return home. After landing, a propellant tanker will be loaded and the booster will send it to meet-up with, and fuel, the spaceship. The tanker then returns to Earth and the spaceship is off to Mars.

You can find the entire presentation on YouTube, but here is a summary video. The Next Big Future blog has a more lengthy summary.

Here is a pretty artist's conception of the ITS spaceship with its solar panels deployed. If you click through to Flickr, you will find more illustrations and photos of the recent test of the methane-powered Raptor engine.

Interplanetary Transport System

Now, please tell me they will release a flying model of the BFS!