Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RoboRocketry Launch July 11-12, 2009

Brenda, Naomi and Alan all launched rockets early Saturday and Sunday mornings, July 11th and 12th. We had a lot of good flights including the maiden launch of the RoboRocketryOne which I will be using for a NAR Level 1 certification flight at SARA's August launch outside of Tucson.

A two stage flight of a Semroc Centurian with an added Semroc Booster-16 booster stage. The Booster-16 is powered by an Estes A10-0T Booster motor. We may even have the last stash of these rare motors. If you know where to buy more, let us know...

Alan prepares a rocket he won in a raffle at SARA's Desert Heat 2009 2-day launch.

Alan and Duane by the Quest X-15 just before launch.

Alan loads his Estes Skywriter onto pad #3.

Brenda retrieving the Skywriter.

Preparing a Semroc 1965 Retro Repro Hawk boost glider for it's maiden launch.

The Hawk just before it lifts off...

Well... the Hawk had a great flight until the ejection charge on the Estes 1/2A6-2 motor blew the fuselage in half.

Brenda wasn't so happy with the Hawks temporary demise... Since then the glider has been repaired and should be flown again soon. Maybe over the coming weekend.

Brenda with her Estes Cosmic Cobra. It's a pretty cool little rocket with helicopter recovery for the nose cone. They are a favorite at launches.

2nd flight of the X-15 on an Estes C6-3 motor. It had flown unstable on an Estes B6-4 motor earlier.

The flights took off nice and straight, but after a little altitude, the tail tried to whip around. We then rechecked and found that this rocket, that had been built exactly as the plans called for, needed weight to be added in the nose cone to move the CG forward. A good lesson in double checking to make sure the Center of Gravity (CG) is at least one body tube diameter in front of the Center of Pressure (CP) of the rocket. (We added 1/2 oz of Aves Fixit epoxy putty to the inside front of the nosecone and flew a great flight the next week...)

Showing off some RoboRocketry swag. :-)

Alan prepares his Semroc V-2 for launch.

Brenda prepares her Estes Cosmic Cobra for flight.

Brenda with RoboRocketryOne. the rocket is based on the Semroc SLS Brighton kit.

The Quest X-15.

Alan's reaction after the 2nd lopsided flight of the X-15...

He REALLY loves his rockets...

Brenda with RoboRocketryOne on the day of its maiden flight. It was a great flight except for the parachute not deploying fully, but no damage except for a couple tiny scrapes on the paint of one fin... It's ready for the Level 1 Cert flight!

Space Vehicles - Jon Richards

Cutaway Space Vehicles by Jon Richards is a great book for young kids to read and learn about various vehicles throughout the history of our conquest of space flight. The book covers from the Russion Vostok 1, the German V-2, the Saturn V and up through the Space Shuttle and modern space stations in large easy to ready print. The technical details are kept to a level to make it interesting to young readers without overwhelming them. A great addition to elementary school classrooms, and both school and home libraries with young wannabe astronauts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Von Braun - Michael J. Neufeld

This is a well researched book that is a good read for anyone interested in the history of modern rockets and especially of the life and contributions of Werner von Braun. It covers his life from his birth to a well-to-do family, troubled school life and his lifelong obsession with rockets and manned space flight. It covers what appears to be his Faustian bargain with Nazi Germany and the eventual use of slave labor to build the famed V-2 rockets up through his surrender to the American forces and eventual key work and involvement with the Apollo missions that landed a man on the moon.

Space Camp - Anne Baird

This is a good book for kids who are interested in becoming astronauts. It goes through a typical six days of Space Camp. With the planned retirement of the space shuttle fleet, it will be interesting to see how these camps change over the next few years as their programs center around shuttle missions.

Strange Angel (John Whiteside Parsons) - George Pendle

Definitely a strange and interesting character in the history of rockets. The book covers many facets of this complex man from his contributions to the development of rocket fuels and helping to found what is now the Jet Propulsion Laboratories at CalTech to his involvement in Aleister Crowley's strange Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) cult. You may not agree with his political or religious convictions, but he definitely played and interesting and important part in our race to space.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick update on current projects.

I will be reviewing and posting pictures of the building process and flight information, etc on the following projects when they are completed and ready for flight.


This rocket is built with a Semroc SLS Brighton kit. The motor mount retention system was modified as well as kevlar cord being added between the ejection baffle and the shock cord. The paint scheme was also changed to the patriotic stars and strips with the RoboRocketry logo added. This rocket will hopefully be flown for a Level 1 certifcation at the SARA launch this month.

Alan's V-2:

Alan is close to completing is V-2 rocket. He has alway's like the V-2 since he did a report on the history of rockets for his GATE class a couple years ago. He also got to see a real V-1 and V-2 at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas this summer.

Quest X-15:

The X-15 has always been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I dreamed of flying an X-15 from an early age. We have already build a SpaceShipOne model and flown it. (You can see that in earlier posts here.) So we just need to finish this X-15 and then build a space shuttle to complete our set if the winged vehicles that have made it to space.

We are also working on the following, but don't have pictures to post, yet. Brenda build a helicopter recovery rockey and also has a boost glider that needs to be flown. We ordereed various composite RMS motors to get ready for the upcoming certification flight with eth RoboRocketryOne. We have also gathered materials and will be starting on a model of an Armadillo Aerospace vehicle soon.

We will post more pictures of all of these projects and the progress.

Team Moon - Catherine Thimmesh

Excellent book! I really like the approach she took to giving credit to the 400,000 plus people that were involved in making it possible to land a man on the moon. It is still awe inspiring to think back to what was accomplished in such a short time by the dedicated people at all levels. The book is full of color photographs and quotes from astronauts whose names you will know, but it refreshingly quotes and gives credit to many of the "backroom" and industry folks. These range from the aerospace engineers working on the recovery chutes to the heroic efforts of the team battling the high winds at the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. It took all of these special people to make the dream come true.

J. Robert Oppenheimer - Toney Allman

This is a good short overview to learn about Oppenheimer's life and his role in the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. This book is aimed at grades 5-9, but my third grade son had no problem reading it. It is only 63 pages but presents enough information for young readers looking to do a report on the subject.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Handbook of Model Rocketry - G. Harry Stine and Bill Stine

This is an excellent handbook on model rocketry. I recommend it to anyone that is just getting into this exciting hobby or for those that have been launching model rockets but haven't read much on the subject. It is a good overview on many aspects of model rocketry. It has something for everyone.

I have been making and flying rockets for quite a while, but picked up good pointers and theory from the sections on air foils and fin design. Alan also used information from the chapter on Ignition and Ignition Systems when building the RoboRocketry Launch Box.

It is packed with information and advice on topics ranging from tools, techniques and rocket contruction, to stability, aerodynamics and recovery devices. There are also overview chapters on scale model building, payloads, altitude determination, clubs and contests and more.

I especially recommend this book as an excellent resource for parents, teachers, scout masters and other club leaders that are planning to teach rocketry concepts to their classes, clubs or their own children.