March 2003 launch report (3/22/2003)
STS-107 Memorial Launch
In honor of David Brown, Mission Specialist (Capt., USN) of
Hey, it's pretty nice outside!
On Saturday, March 22nd, MASA members gathered at Sunrise
Park Middle School in White Bear Lake. For only the 2nd time
in club history, MASA was having a March launch! With
sunshine, blue skies, temperatures approaching 50 and only a light
breeze, 119 flights took to the skies in only 3 hours from a
"misfire alley" range. A sizeable MASA crew was
joined by a group of Civil Air Patrol Cadets who eagerly uncovered
the various failure modes of Estes Banshees..
Big thanks and applause to:
- Mike Erpelding - for filling the back of his truck with gear
and hauling it an hour-and-a-half each way
- LCO volunteers: Glen Overby, Stuart Lenz, Mike Erpelding,
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Stuart Lenz writes:
At 6 AM, the sky was overcast and hazy, with no wind. By 9 am,
the sun was peaking through and the haze was gone. Launches
started at about 9:15 with Glen acting as RSO/LCO. Ellison flew
the first test rocket, an expendable design that was mostly engine
and fins and used a wine cork as the nose cone. I launched the
Estes foam Space Shuttle (of Doom) on a C6-3, worked better than
it usually does except that the core ejection occurred within the
launch pad area.
We had a visiting group of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadets who
had all built Estes Banshees which they repeatedly launched on
different engines and different launch rod angles. They
accounted for 39 of the rockets launched. At 10:00, I relieved
Glen as RSO/LCO and for the next 45 minutes had a large handful of
flight cards and was continually busy. We were running the launch
as a Misfire Alley with 7 low power pads and 4 communal mid power
pads plus the 5 ROTC pads. There seemed to be an unending supply
of rocket ready to launch
By 10:45, I was glad to turn RSO/LCO duty over to Mike as I had
a new collection of MicroMaxx rockets to test out, many of which
turned out to require additional nose weight to improve their
stability. Ellison launched several of my gliders including the
Centuri Mach 10 Clone, my rebuilt ARV Condor and a Flat Cat. My
new MicroMaxx glider worked very well with a 20-30 second glide on
an 1/8 A engine, not bad for a less than 4" wingspan.
Notable flights were Marks "Quad Bertha" on 4 B6-4
engines, all of which lit, but unfortunately the chute failed to
fully deploy, Glen's RFR as a two stage that failed to stage but
still had the sustainer go to 300+ feet, Alan had many good
flights launching them two at a time. Ted arrived sometime after
10:00 and had his usual good flights of his Mars Lander, Orbital
Transport and two with a Silver Comet.
Around 12:30, as we were just finishing clean up, a police
patrol car came by as a result of a neighbor complaint, something
to do with the military launching rockets in the school yard (the
CAP Cadets were in their fatigues). She left when we convinced her
that we had permission, were just finishing up, and were already
cleaning up our litter.
Ted Cochran writes:
Seth and I arrived to a field already set up and rocking and
I had intended to fly my Estes Space Shuttle, but realized
halfway through prepping that I'd left the fins at home. Sigh. I
made it into a static display instead. So I flew the Orbital
Transport, which made an absolutely marvelous flight with both
parts landing in the grass. My Kosrox Mars Lander made a
nice flight, too, and stuck the landing. The first launch of
the Silver Comet (its 30th flight) on a C11-3 led to one of those
rare, absolutely picture perfect flights. Minimal arcing, dead
stop at apogee, ejection just as it starts to tail slide, and a
great recovery. I tried to repeat that moment later in the day,
and got the more typical arcing, but nice flight.
Seth flew his Fat Boy, I flew the Skywinder. The ARV Condor was
next and turned in it's usual rain of pieces, with two of them
floating down slower than the others--one of them much
slower. The Sling Wing made a flight on a 1.2A motor. I
think it got higher than we could have launched it with the rubber
band catapult, but I'm not sure. The glider stayed up well over 30
seconds, though. Makes me want to build a more optimized
carrier rocket for it.
I had lots of fun watching, too. The launch rate was very good;
I think we're getting a lot of benefit from our hybrid misfire
alley set up. A lot of MASA old(?) timers did a bunch of flying.
Russ, Mark, and Lee all put up a lot of rockets. Alan had several
nice flights, including a couple of two stage rockets, and I'm
pretty sure he kept them all off the roof. The Carpenters
had a wonderful SR-71 launch, and a fantastic Death Star flight,
and got their whimsically painted Skywinder off the roof without
too much trouble.
Glen's Aerobee 300 was very pretty; the two stage was prettier
before he flew than after. Mark Thell's BeBeBeBertha flew way
better on B6-4s than it would have on A8-3s, but you'd think that
at least one of the chutes could have elected to deploy! Russ
tried to take our picture--again--and got the other side of the
The Lenz's don't get a prang nomination this month. Stuart
spread 1/2A worth of impulse over a half dozen micromaxx flights,
but I can't nominate unstable micromaxx rockets for a prang award
and keep a straight face <giggle>. Ellison flew a bunch,
too, including the spool. Someone ought to stop him before he
flies a bobbin -). But given their past, um, success in this award
category, we're all jaded. They'll have to come up with something
pretty spectacular to get our attention this year, huh?
Instead, I nominate David Gensler's Heat Seeker. It's amazing
how long a B4 motor seems to burn in an unstable rocket -)
Honorable mention is a multi-way tie to the CAP cadets, who
(Alan said it best) "eagerly uncovered the various failure
modes of Estes Banshees."
They did get us over the 100 flight mark for the day, though.
Not a bad launch day, especially for March!
Alan Estenson writes:
After a bout of feeling poorly, Saturday's fine weather
encouraged me to fly my first rockets since last October. After
one look at that muddy softball infield, I set up a pair of Estes
pads with my KISS 2-pad controller on the grass at the far end of
pad row. I thought that the misfire alley setup worked well and
had pretty constant throughput. I particularly enjoy prepping,
flying, and recovering my rockets in pairs; it lets me make better
use of the time available. Having pretty much lost my voice, I did
duck out on LCO duties.
I first flew a Stomp rocket (B4-4) and followed it with an old
Mini Patriot (A3-4t) (seemed appropriate, given current events.)
Next up came an assemblage of spare parts, MQ-2 (A8-3); its chute
refused to un, err, crumple. Lofting the Xactron Projectile on a
B6-4 preceded a shock cord separation and one broken fin.
For round 3, my Dynamic Carrier suffered from bonus delay on a
B4-4; the late ejection left it with a slight zipper. However,
Chain Lightning (sustainer only) then made a perfect showing on a
D12-5. Round 4 started with my Der Big Red Max clone. It's
starting to look worse-for-wear, but made a very nice C6-5 flight.
I followed it with a 2-stage flight of my Zenith 2 (B6-0 to B6-6).
It arced quite a bit but staged well for a successful flight.
My last round of flights included a nice C11-5 flight of my
Rocketvision Six Pack. It's one tough little rocket. My final
flight of the day was another 2 stager; Longshot on C11-0 to B6-4.
It performed very nicely and had a near vertical flight.
The continual barrage of Banshees was only one of the day's
spectacles. I enjoyed Ted's flight of his KosRox Mars Lander.
Perhaps I'll get around to building mine someday... Stuart was
persistent in his attempt to lower the average N-s per flight
statistic. Ken had a number of fun-to-watch flights; he flew quite
a few larger rockets on C11 motors.
Full launch tally (in
Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version 4 or newer of the Acrobat
The totals were: 119 flights, 127 motors. The
cumulative total impulse was 827 Ns with an average total impulse of
6.5 Ns. The motor breakdown follows: