This project was the brainchild of Ky Michaelson and built with the assistance of Bruce Lee and Jeff Hove. Tony Cochran (from Colorado) assisted with the pre-launch preparations at the Argonia, Kansas LDRS 22 event.
The project was started less than two weeks before LDRS 22 and much of the construction at Ky's house was filmed by the Discovery Channel. The construction and flight are to be featured on Discovery's "The Rocket Challenge" to premier Nov 9, 2003.
Note: that show will also air a commercial paid for by rocketeer contributions
to the "Save Rocketry Now"
fund. The commercial will direct people to the www.flyrockets.com
website which provides links to many rocketry organizations and give tips
on getting started in rocketry.
Links to others' photos/videos of the flight:
Something that other articles have failed to mention was that this was intended to be a very low flight. We were competing for the "How Low Can You Go" contest for rockets powered by more than a "K" motor. This one had two M 1419's. Early in the design Ky even suggested intentionally firing the chutes during the ascent as a means to ensure full inflation. We decided against using electronic timers to fire the chutes early and instead relied on the Magnetic Apogee Detector to fire the chutes as soon as the rocket started to arc over, hopefully near the top of its flight. A MissileWorks RRC2 barometric altimeter was also installed as a backup, but it is not designed to arm until 250 feet and we expected this rocket to fly to between 300 to 500 so that didn't leave much margin.
When we setup for launch the winds were nice but due to range and filming issues, we had to wait over two hours on the pad before launching. By then the winds had picked up considerably and became a concern. As the rocket left the launch rod (a 20 foot flag pole), it immediately started to weather-cock into the wind, which was directly towards the flightline and most cameras, so the angle isn't apparent in most videos.
The chutes fired very early, shortly after leaving the launcher, and the twin Rocketman R14 canopies started to eject out both ends of the horizontal parachute cannon mounted near the top of the outhouse. We believe the MAD fired the chutes due to the weather cocking, but some have theorized that the magnetic sensor may have been fooled by the sudden disappearance of the flagpole launch rod as the vehicle cleared the rod. I have not seen a good side-angle shot to tell for sure which was the true cause, but while watching the flight we all agreed that it was due to the weather-cocking angle.
The rocket continued to arc over even before the chutes achieved line stretch, so the early deployment probably saved the rocket from an even harder landing than would have occurred without the chutes. It even appears that the deploying chutes caused the rocket to straighten back up for a second, before they finally deployed fully and added enough drag to slow the rocket down.
The door was rigged to pop open when the chutes achieved line stretch so a stuffed space monkey could be ejected out under his own parachute. The door latch did release as planned but the aerodynamic loads of the sideways flight did not allow the door to fully open until shortly before impact. The space monkey was found several feet from the vehicle and was unresponsive. CPR was administered but the monkey did not recover. We will all miss his giggly "3, 2, 1, Blast Off, Oooooo" mantra.
Although deformed somewhat on landing, the main components on the rocket were un-damaged and it could fly again. The only damage was to the phenolic motor mount and parachute cannon tubes and the PVC launch rod guide, which was expected given the planned nose-first landing attitude.
Overall it was a fun and rewarding experience. We had set out
from the beginning to build an unusual rocket and make a spectacular flight.
The contest however was won by someone with a spool rocket that barely made it up to 100 feet.