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Last updated: Mar 27, 2010
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June 2011 Solstice evening launch report (6/20/2011)

On Saturday evening, June 18th, MASA attempted to hold its annual Solstice evening launch.  It was held at the VFW soccer fields near Elk River.

It was a cloudy day with light showers moving through some areas of the metro, and downpours moving through other areas.  All the forecasts suggested that the light rain would move out of the Elk River area around 5pm, and then we'd have a nice evening with only a light and variable breeze.

Well, the showers did end around 5pm, and launch director Alan started setting up the range around 5:30.  Quite a few people arrived, and rocket flying started around 6pm.  Rockets were boosting vertically and (mostly) recovering very close to the pads.

Unfortunately, it started raining again around 6:45.  After waiting around for nearly an hour, we called it quits and packed everything up.  :-(

A few of the flights:

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

Art Gibbens writes:

It had rained most of the day at home in Cottage Grove so I wasn't too hopeful that there would be a launch this year. I got back from the the last open house I needed to attend and checked my e-mail to see we were still on for the launch. So I put my gear in my S10 Blazer and was off! Traffic flowed nicely for me to get to the field and it took me just 52 minutes to get there from my house. I arrived at the field at 6:04 pm CDT and it was not raining then.

My goal for the night was to fly some new and some "new to me" rockets, as well as some of my venerable fleet vehicles. Alas, I only got 3 flights in and recovered before the rain came down. My first flight was a Snitch saucer that I got as a door prize some time ago (I think it was two holiday parties ago) that I finally sat down and put together. I used a Quest C6-5 for a very nice flight. The second rocket I flew was an old Estes BT-5 3 fins and a nose cone kit from awhile ago. Whoever had built it had never flown it so this was its maiden voyage. It had a crepe paper streamer, a rubber shock cord and the kit was two tubes with the tube coupler pinching the shock cord mid-ship so that the builder didn't have to try to put a shock cord mount inside the little body tube. This rocket and the Yankee that I flew for my third flight were donated to HCA by a family last year. I figured if I got one flight out of this little rocket I would be happy. So I put a 1/4 A3-4T in it and it went straight up to apogee where the streamer was ejected and it dropped right back onto the field about 75 feet from the launch pad. When I picked it up I could not pull the engine out of it - which I suspected would happen because the builder had gotten a fair amount of paint up inside the tube and it was a tight fit when I put the engine in. I'll try to get it out without wrecking the rocket but it doesn't look promising. The third rocket I flew was an older Estes Yankee that had the shock cord, nose cone and recovery system missing when I got it. One would surmise that it's last flight resulted in a separation at ejection with the nose cone drifting away and never recovered. Another BT-20 rocket had also been donated that was missing fins. It was a space plane of some kind and I took it's parachute and nose cone and put it on this rocket. So it looks kind of funky to see the two paint schemes juxtaposed on the same rocket. But it flew very nicely on a B6-6 and landed across the street in the back field behind the house that is there. I'd guess it was 200 or so yards down wind of the launch area.

So I picked up all my rockets and went back to the back of the Blazer to prep my Satellite Launcher and the skies opened up. So we all scrambled and jumped into our cars to wait to see if the rains would let up. Buzz came over and we chatted for a good half hour or so while the field got wetter and wetter. Finally, after a little over an hour of waiting the launch was scrubbed, the range was broken down and we all went home.

Jason Pokorny writes:

It was coincidence that I purchased a baby bertha recently then shortly after found out about the duration contest in July, when I did I really wanted to get it built and have a couple test flights. The large diameter of the baby bertha let me fit a pretty large parachute inside and my intentions were to launch with a B6-4 with one 24" plastic parachute and go from there. I was really planning on trying to fit 2-3 24" parachutes, having a few test flights on each combination and have a pretty good showing in the competition. I prepared the rocket at home the day of the launch and honestly never spent so much time folding and packing a parachute, making sure every line was perfectly straight, coated the entire surface with a thin layer of powder and absolutely perfect folds making a precise parachute package.

Those of you that were at the launch could agree that almost perfect wind conditions made for a wonderful day for test flights. Watching the 5-6 flights of Alan and Art and observing their recovery stage the wind was minimal. The flight was perfect, the B6-4 was exactly what I expected and the deployment of the parachute was great, it maybe took an extra second for the larger parachute to unfold and open up. I can honestly tell you I was very excited with everything so far and said to myself that this could not go any better, and in my head I was planning the 2 parachute launch. It was coming down so slow and slightly drifting west and I started walking at a normal walking pace straight west. Everyone there understands how far the launch pad was from the road, there is no way possible that the power lines could pose any threat. I was standing by the parked cars watching it come down and heard someone, I think Buzz, say something about the power lines. Considering my entire rocket launching past, if there is a 1% chance of anything happening, I need to consider it. That being said, right at the point where the lines tie to the parachute is where the power lines touch and the plastic fell over the line and there she hangs. If the rocket was 1 foot lower it would have missed the line. If it was 1 foot higher I'm thinking the rocket would have stopped higher on the line then the rocket would have starting falling down straight and momentum might have flipped the parachute over the line and would have come down.

I'd really like to compete in the duration contest in July so I'm likely going to get a second one and maybe have some A powered test flights here at home.
Buzz seems to think that this is first time MASA put a rocket in the power lines at this location. I guess it's nice to be the first at something.

The Details:

Full launch tally (PDF)

The totals were:  18 flights, 18 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 91 Ns with an average total impulse of 5 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0












E 0



(Alan Estenson)

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