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Last updated: Oct. 3, 2002
Site hosted courtesy of the
Minnesota Rocketry Network
Alan Estenson, Webmaster

September 2002 launch report (9/28/2002)

A cool grey calm

On Saturday, September 28, a medium-size group came out to the sod farm in Blaine for the regular launch.  8 pads were set up in a central "rack", and other pads were set up in a "misfire alley" grid. Weather was cool and cloudy with scarcely a breeze.  A light rain ended the fun at about 1 pm.  It was a relaxed-pace launch with 99 flights..

A big thanks to: 

  • Ted Cochran for hauling out the gear
  • RSO/SCO volunteers: Alan Estenson, Glen Overby
  • LCO volunteers: Ted Cochran, Glen Overby, Kerry Hodges, Stuart Lenz, David Whitaker
  • Everyone who came early to set up and stayed late to pack away the equipment.

Only 4 Alpha's were presented for the drag race; they all flew on A8 motors.  Two Venus Probes were also drag raced.

Mike Erpelding ran a B parachute duration contest during the launch.  The results are:

Under 19 - B Parachute Duration - 9/28/02
Place Contestant Flight 1 Flight 2 Total NAR Points
1 Cochran, Seth 89 44 133 80
2 Montz, Brian 47 - 47 48
3 Hoyme, Kristen 27 - 27 32
19 & Older - B Parachute Duration - 9/28/02
Place Contestant Flight 1 Flight 2 Total NAR Points
1 Hoyme, Ken 97 82 179 80
2 Whitaker, David 63 62 125 48
3 Lenz, Stuart DQ-EJ 88 88 32
4 Eastman, Ed 57   57 18
5 Cochran, Ted DQ-NDP 45 45 8
6 Carpenter, Todd 41   41 8
- Frisvold, Lee DQ-EJ   - 0

A big thanks to Mike for running the contest, and also to everyone who participated!  Awards for the contest will be presented at the October 8th club meeting.


A few of the flights:

MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the launch! 

Glen Overby writes:

I was happy with the part-missfire-alley setup. However, I forgot to launch a flight without the LCO's permission -)

I guess the Roving RSO wasn't really needed at this launch. I got the tag with the byline "A few tiles short of a safe re-entry." ahem! -)  okay, I thought it was cute and somewhat fitting -)

I didn't have anything new ready to fly (I do have 3 built, at least partly-painted un-flown rockets!) and the LMR/HPR motor shortage has advanced beyond "irritating". However, I managed to find a few boxes of rockets (rats! I forgot the Alpha) and dug out all the parts to my launch pad. Since I wasn't absolutely dying to fly a lot of rockets, I worked both an LCO and RSO shift.

I mostly remember flights from when I was LCO and RSO

- Seth Cochran's parachute duration rocket that "wouldn't come down"

- The glider that 2 people on the road had to jump over (from the launch tally, I think it was David Whitaker's ECEE Thunder).

- Ted Cochran's payloader with the altimeter. Ted was doing one of the NARTREK projects requiring that he fly the same rocket on three different motors, three times per motor, with an altimeter. The end goal of this is to calculate the rocket's actual CD. I should do this sometime...

On the "neat product of the day" front, I bought a 20' fishing pole at Fleet Farm for $17. I saw Bob Kaplow use one of these to try retrieving a rocket from a tree; while he was a few feet short I mean the pole was a few feet short but I still liked it. I'm going to craft a hook and cutter for the tip to help with those difficult snags.

Ted Cochran writes:

I think the misfire alley system worked extremely well. There were 8 alleys of pads signed up for, and about 10 misfire pads in use in addition to the 8 community pads. The pads were spread out over a much greater area than they usually are, and I think this helped even more than I expected. All the LCO has to do is look at a specific pad and make sure the area around it was clear. Also, the rocket owner serves as a guaranteed set of extra eyes.

I found the pace to be relaxed, without the pressure to get each rack off as fast as possible because people were waiting. I'm sure at least part of this was due to the relatively low launch rate, too. It also felt much less tense putting rockets on the pad--you can take all the time you need to get things set up and you can use all the masking tape you want -)

Going forward, in addition to the reduced need to haul equipment, I expect that the equipment we do haul around will require a lot less maintenance (because people will be using their own).

I wore a roving RSO badge all day, and probably checked out five or six rockets total. If we had five or ten people doing this, the "full time" RSOs would have a lot fewer rockets to worry about.  More importantly, perhaps I'm thinking that having a few Roving RSO's will help keep the impatient "I want it checked NOW" people away from the full time RSO, letting them direct their attention to whatever they think is important. When I've been RSO in the past, the overall work load has never been bad, but the surges can be awful.

I forgot the Venus Probe in the rush of making new pad numbers.  Seth and I brought the new Orbital Transport, the fairly new Space Shuttle and Deltie Airshow, the classic Kosrox Mars Lander, some rockets for the contest, and the scratch built rocket I'm testing for NARTREK.

The OT had a perfect first flight on a B4-2, despite my worries about CG.  It's built stock--no nose weight at all. There is a good reason why this rocket is considered a classic!

The Space Shuttle turned in another Most Excellent flight. The profile of the shuttle gliding in is really cool, even if the wings are about 50% larger than scale and it glides a lot better than the real thing.

The Mars Lander flew straight and high and almost stuck the landing, but the big chute pulled it over on its side at the last minute.

Seth's Deltie Airshow turned in a spectacular flight--straight boost, followed by a starburst effect as the Delties separated in unison. They all turned big circles for what seemed like forever before landing almost simultaneously.

Seth crammed a 18" parachute into a minimum diameter, 8" long rocket, and had much better success than I did trying to cram a 24" parachute into a BT-50.  He got a flights with a fully open and a mostly open chute; I got a streamer and a partly open chute. I'll have to ask him for lessons on packing -)

NARTREK Gold requires you to design and build a rocket and measure its altitude on three flights on each of two motors. (You don't have to use an altimeter; theodolites or even the G. Harry Stine "standard streamer" are OK). You document the design, calculate the CP, and use the data to calculate the actual Cd. This was a lot of work in the old days, without Rocksim! (Do you get brownie points for doing Barrowman CP calculations with a slide rule? -)

Using the Adept A1, I got altitudes (with C11-5s from the same package) of 380', 375', and 380', which is quite consistent given that the motors are allowed to vary by 20%!. Earlier flights on D12s got me 795', 880', and 875' (the first flight was with a motor from a different production lot, and also weathercocked just a bit). I've only given the Cd data a cursory look, but it seems that Rocksim's estimates are going to be within 5% of the actual values. Neat, huh? Real rocket science, on a model rocket budget....

I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to get experience with the theory behind all the fun we've been having!

Some other flights I remember

--Elliot Carpenter's perfect flight of an SR-71 (previously AKA King Cato).

--Alan's Minne-skeeter, which spread West Nile virus from a surprisingly high flight on a B4, and his cool IPFI Corrigan with rear ejection,

--Kerry Hodges' whistling Gabriel,

--Ken Home's Big Bertha that tried to land on its own launch pad, and missed by inches. Also Ken's Onyx, which was Ken's first midpower flight [more power! arrrr arrrr arrr],

--Kirsten Hoyme's WAC Corporal, flying high and true,

--Brian Montz' four good flights on his first rocket, an Alpha III (using his starter kit pad in Misfire alley, too!)

Prang Award honorable mentions

Ed Eastman's Magnum cum Lawn Dart. The pun alone makes it worth nominating.  (The second stage didn't light)

Ellison Lenz' Big Dart, err, Daddy (unstable and lawn darted--vectored thrust?)

Stuart Lenz' Pokemon #2, AKA Digger (Not even an Econojet could get the chute out)


Stuart Lenz writes:

I remember several flights that ended as ballistic fence posts, one of which was by Pokeman #2 rocket which will be a little shorter next time it is launched. In preparation for my future level 1 flight, I launched by new PML Tiny Pterodactyl on a F25-10, my largest engine to date. This rocket uses a 29 mm MMT and a piston ejection system. My planned level 1 rocket is a PML Lunar Express with a 38/29 mm MMT and a piston ejection system with only the launch lug and painting remaining.

I choose not to launch the Tiny Pterodactyl on a larger engine because of the low ceiling, several flights had already entered the low clouds and disappeared for several long heartbeats. My final attempt on a parachute durration flight succeeded with a 1 minute 27 second flight and also finished my bronze NARTREK requirements.

I thought that the MisFire Alley launch worked well, though with the small turnout, the pads were never very busy. I think that during my LCO shift I could have launched twice as many rocket if they had been any ready. The multiple RSOs made it easy to get a rocket approved with only an occasional wait. Many thanks to every one who made the launch work.

Ken Hoyme writes:

Last Saturday's launch was only my oldest daughter, Kirsten, and I. My youngest was at a church retreat. (She was sad -- she was going to bring an Exo-Skell). Though the skies were overcast, the winds were very light, making it the second month in a row where the risk of sending it high was not quite so great.

I had read about the misfire alley approach in the last newsletter, and was apprehensive. (I wasn't on the e-mail list yet, so I hadn't seen the discussion beforehand). But I thought it worked pretty good. I dragged along our old Estes launcher, but ended up sharing launch pad space with Todd & Elliott Carpenter. With the size of group we had, there was no significant delay getting RSO review. It was fun to push the button again, though for the really high stuff, I have become accustom to not having to worry about the safety key, and just keep my eye on the rocket. My only concern with the launch setup was that there were people out in the middle of the launch pad area when some of the bigger stuff was going off the community pads. They were significantly closer to the launch, often distracted by putting their clip leads on when G-power was going off behind their back. If the yellow tape line is supposed to be the safe distance to G and H rockets, there were many times people were much closer. (Hey -- I do safety stuff for a living -- I think like this. It is the power of negative thinking!)

Kirsten had a good outing -- she decided to put her 24mm WAC Corporal up on an Estes E9. It was a straight up shot right to the edge of visibility. She recovered it, so it was a great flight. 10 days before the launch, I had picked up a Venus Probe and Exo-Skell from Hub for the drag race. When I came home from work Friday night, Kirsten had finally started hers -- she got the whole thing built, on her own, without CyA, in a single evening. But, no time for paint. She and Ellison Lenz drag raced. They don't go too high, even on a C6 -- they were fun to watch. (Time for painting, Kirsten!)

I built an Estes Star-Dart to go for the NARTREK Bronze -- it was an 18mm engine in an 18mm tube with a nosecone -- figured it would have a chance. When I saw Mike's contest, I decided - great timing. I decided to put it up on an A8-3 to test it out - it didn't make 60 seconds, and I melted the chute. ( Not having a spare, I figured I was out for that day. I next decided to put my Big Bertha up on a B6-4, which ended up landing 18" from the pad. Easy pickup!!

Kirsten decided to put her Polaris into the parachute contest, and swapped the Estes chute with the larger one from her WAC -- spare chute!! So the Star Dart was back in operation. Tried the baby powder on the chute trick, and it opened perfectly for a 97 second flight - great for the contest and put NARTREK Bronze chute requirement in the bag. Later I swapped to a streamer and went to a B6-6. Seth Cochran timed me - 30.00 seconds on the nose!! Two NARTREK goals on one rocket.

I also brought out a new LOC Onyx for first flight. Ted Cochran helped me learn how to load the engine and ignitor in an F20-7. The flight was perfect -- nice roar. I need more power!!

I had my 30 year old original Estes Goblin loaded with a D12 for the third NARTREK element when the rain started. That will have to wait until next month.

We enjoyed many of the other flights. Wish my youngest had been there to add her Alpha III to the drag race. Though unintentional, the horizontal Exocet flight was reminiscent of the HMS Sheffield. I still haven't gotten over my need to turn and watch the big stuff go off (and thus the draw towards more power). I also get a kick out of the gliders -- might have to try one again (did one as a teenager -- old Estes kit). Is that a NARTREK Silver or Gold goal???

Fun launch!! Looking forward to the next one.


The Details:

Full launch tally (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version 4 or newer of the Acrobat reader)

The totals were:  99 flights, 102 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 1673 Ns with an average total impulse of 16.4 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0





















(Alan Estenson)

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