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Last updated: Nov 22 2008
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March 2009 launch report (4/3/2009)

On Saturday, March 28th, MASA held its first launch of the year.  It was held on the VFW soccer fields near Elk River.  The turnout of people was quite good.  Since the January and February launches had been canceled due to poor weather, everyone was eager to fly some rockets!

The day wasn't terribly warm - starting out about 30 degrees at 9am and warming up to near 40 degrees by the time that the launch wound down after 1 pm.  Winds were light and variable, but mostly out of the north to northeast.  Periods of near-calm were perfect for flying some rockets.

The Hope Christian Academy TARC team was on hand, and they made a number of flights of their rocket - "Dead Cow".  [see details below]  Scott, Andy, and Aidan Heaton put up a total of 12 flights including a really nice flight of their Super Big Bertha on a F12-5.  Jim, Heather, and Eric Myers also made 12 flights on a variety of rockets - one of which was a really big upscale Flying Jenny.  Other rocketeers flying that day included Todd Carpenter, Ted Cochran, Alan Estenson, Glen Overby, Dave Schaffhausen, Dwayne Shmel, and Jeff Taylor.  Thanks to everyone for helping kick off MASA's 2009 flying season!

Thanks also to everyone who helped pack up the range equipment!

A few of the flights:

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

Art Gibbens writes:

"The death of Dead Cow"

So, what's black and white and red all over? (With emphasis on the all over the launch area part of the question.) Why that would be Hope Christian Academy's rocket, named Dead Cow for its unique paint scheme, after the Cato of one of their E9-8 motors on their last planned flight of the day. If you were at the launch yesterday you witnessed the HCA team trying to get a good enough qualifying score to once again head to the finals of Team America Rocketry Challenge for 2009. You probably also saw their final flight of the competition for this year.

HCA flew a total of six flights and here is how the saga unfolded. Their first flight was based on what RocSim predicted they would need to hit the marks of 45 seconds aloft and 750 feet in altitude. They were using three D12-7 motors with some 80 grams of ballast on board, in addition to the ballast they were using to compensate for an egg. Well, that's why they call it a prediction because they only got 426 feet of altitude and a time of 27.37. So they decided to keep their engine profile the same and lighten the rocket by removing all excess ballast. Results were disappointing at 545 feet and 39.2 seconds. Now they were in a quandary. They had to decide what engine combination to use to try to get more height and yet not endanger the egg with too long of a delay. They decided to use E9-6 and E9-8 engines along with two D12-7 engines on their last four flights of the day. The third flight had no additional ballast, similar to their second flight and they went 795 feet with a time of 58.4. They got real excited after this flight as it was a real morale booster because the first two flights had been disappointing. So they added some ballast back to the rocket and reloaded it again, this time with an egg to ensure that they could fly their rocket and recover the egg without breaking it. On this fourth flight they launched while the winds were gusting and the rocket tipped into the wind causing them to only attain an altitude of 638 feet with a time of 44.6 seconds.

So they know they are down to their last two flights and decide to make no changes to the weight of the rocket and to refly as is. So they ask for two impartial NAR members to be timers and observers for this flight and hit the launch button. Rats! Only two of the three motors light and they get a safe qualified flight of 303 feet and an average time of 24.32 which gives them a score of 395.64 to submit. On their final flight, again they decide to make no changes to the amount of ballast they have on board and to reload using their last E9-8 to make their final qualifying launch. And that's when disaster struck, with the Cato blowing out the side of rocket causing one fin to flap in the breeze during flight and spewing confetti that was once their rocket around the launch pad. Even amidst the catasphrophy the two D12-7 engines both lit and they were able to attain an altitude of 208 feet with the safe recovery of the egg. However, the rules stipulate that if a team does have a Cato during a qualifying launch attempt that they would be allowed a do-over.

HCA's Dead Cow is history however, as most of the Cato propellant grain ended up forward of the engine mount while still burning which resulted in the wall of the air frame to be burnt through from the inside out. The recovery wadding did a great job of keeping the parachutes protected during this burn, however the shock cord was charred through causing the sustainer to fall to the ground as the parachute fluttered down beside it. The damage to the rocket is too severe to repair and there is not enough time to rebuild so they have to hope that their first score will get them to finals. For you see, yesterday was the first day of their spring break and even though there is another week until the contest is closed to make qualifying flights, there is no way that the team can get together to rebuild the rocket to fly it next weekend. Most of them will be away on vacation, so it was do or die time at the launch yesterday. And they fought valiantly.

Todd Carpenter writes:

It was a good day at the range. Met super nice people, talked with some smart kids, launched rockets, and got lightly sun burned. What'snot to like?

My Screaming Mimi's first flight suffered launch rod whip and nearly went ballistic. No damage sustained, and I cleaned out the lug so it
should fit on the proper size rod in the future... Heard the "scream" when it was high in the air, not so much when it was lower.

The Flis Fric'n'Frac was a blast. B6-0 to a C6-0, and Alan launched it in a perfect calm, so it went straight up. The sustainer spun like a top on the way up and down. I can hardly wait to launch it again.

 Dwayne and I raced Death Stars. He was kind enough to let my Death Star go up first, so it wasn't much of a race... My Death Star booster lost a fin. Dwayne's Death Star's trip on a D was awesome. Wow. Those Clone Troopers didn't know what hit 'em.

I then launched a Baby Bertha modified with hooks to boost a couple Edmunds Elcie Gs. Both pilots had trouble controlling their craft, #1 was a lawn dart (pilot sustained a minor concussion), the other pulled up at the last minute and flared for a nice landing.

Finally it was time for my Steampunk Comet's first flight. Fabricated claims aside, Jeff's great pictures make it look *better*... :) Flight was fine, no damage. Got some good tips from Ted on how to beef up fins, in theme, to limit future damage.

I saw reusable composite 18mm motors for the first time...  Interesting what some of those rockets do on Ds. The first was Scott's Big Berth on a D. That was impressive. You should've been
there to see Dwayne's pink pyramid go up on a D8000 (or something).  Last night I ordered some from . I swore a long time ago that I wouldn't let this hobby get expensive. Harumph. You're all bad influences.

Thanks, Alan, for RSOing, and Jeff for the terrific photos!

The Details:

Full launch tally (PDF)

The totals were:  58 flights, 76 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 950 Ns with an average total impulse of  12.5 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0
















G 0


I 0




(Alan Estenson)

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