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Last updated: May 25, 2007
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GEMS / GISE Rocket Festival (5/19/2007)

 The GEMS & GISE Rocket Festival was held this past Saturday (May 19th) at Jordan Park Community School in Minneapolis.

The MASA launch crew volunteers were Carol Marple, Jeff, Alyssa and McKenna Taylor, and Alan Estenson. The day's weather turned out a lot nicer than forecasted. It was sunny with just a very light breeze. It actually got pretty hot standing out there in the sunshine all afternoon. Carol headed up the emergency launch lug installation (more on that below), Jeff announced the flights, Alyssa loaded the rockets on the pads, and Alan operated the launch controller and watched the range safety. Other volunteers judged the rockets and helped prep them to fly.

Some 300 or so enthusiastic 4th-8th graders were there to fly their Estes Eggscalibers (with egg payload) on B6-2's. They had a lot of fun!

The field was pretty small, but proved adequate for the light breeze and low altitude flights. We started setting up the launch range about noon. The first flights were at about 1:30 and the last flights about 4:15. There were 70 or more flights. Many of the flights were successful, but many suffered from separation or BROC - Ballistic Recovery Omelet Creation.

When we saw the first Eggscaliber, we realized that the launch lug standoff (so the rod would clear the egg capsule) had been skipped, and the lug had been glued directly to the body tube. (Someone decided that part of the instructions was optional?) We quickly realized that they had nearly all been built that way. (Out of 70 or so rockets, I only saw 4 that had the launch lug installed on the standoff.) Without the standoff, the rockets would have perched 2 feet up in the air with only
8 inches or so of the top of the rod to provide any guidance. Not good!

Some quick brainstorming broke out, cardboard, tape, tools, and soda straws were scavenged. After trying several ideas, we ended up stacking 7 small rectangles of cardboard and taping them together to act as a standoff. Then, a piece of a straw was taped onto that stack. When the rockets were brought up to be launched, Carol & crew used clear packing
tape to tape that assembly onto the rocket. After the rockets flew, the straw & cardboard rig was removed so that it could be reused. It wasn't pretty, but it worked!

 [Alan Estenson]

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