STAC Event 01/01/01: Rocket Launch

New Year's Day was cold, around 15 degrees, but perfectly clear and with zero to light winds. Glen and I went out to Beaver Lake in St. Paul to experiment with launching on the frozen lake.  It worked out pretty well and we learned a lot about preparations and operations for this type of site.  We were out from 1:30pm to 4:00 and only got cold near the end, mostly due to wet feet and cold fingers from assembling RMS motors.

We used Glen's newly modified launch pad with elevation angle and bearing adjustments.  It worked very well.

My new rolling toolbox loaded with everything we could ever need worked well and allowed me to get out to the launch site in one trip but the toy sled I used to tow it was awkward and kept rolling over in the uneven snow.  My rockets were in a cardboard box that was difficult to carry one-handed while pulling the sled.  I need to design a better method for carrying stuff and also coordinate with Glen to reduce duplication (I brought two launchers and altitude tracking equipment that went unused).

Glen's alternative transportation method was a plastic bucket for the launcher and a milk crate for the rockets.  He made it out to the pad quickly and easily but had to return to the car for forgotten items.

Shovelling the snow down to the smooth ice helped make our launch-control and prep area comfortable.  Folding chair & table helped too.

All but two of our flights were recovered close to the pad, and even the farthest was only about 150 yards (but through deep snow).  It is worth noting that we didn't have any misfires.  Glen's launch controller worked great.  Only one motor chuffed on a Firestar ignitor that might not have gotten fully inserted.

Later in the day we had a pair of CATOs probably due to old motors being cold-soaked.  Also, body tubes seem to become brittle when cold: Glen had a hole blown out the side of one of his rockets at ejection on an otherwise perfect flight.

Flight Results:
Owner Rocket Engine Notes Alt Results
Glen Scratch Built Dart 9c Estes B6-6 Paper streamer 600 Very nice flight.  Paper streamer torn.  Motor & adapter ejected but were recovered.
Jeff Estes Avenger Upper Stage only Estes C5-3 Nylon streamer 800 Straight.
Glen Scratch Dart 9d Estes B6-6 2 paper streamers 500 Short thrust, good tracking smoke.  Streamers tore.  Nose cone & weights separated from payload section.  All recoverd near pad.
Glen Scratch Dart 8 Estes B6-6 paper streamer 700 good flight, ejection at apogee but streamer tore, kevlar thread shock cord burned through.
Jeff Centuri Orion Estes C6-5 Glen's 14" nylon chute 500 late ejection, landed near pad
Jeff Aerotech Initiator Aerotech E28-4T 24mmRMS 22" nylon chute 800 Perfect.
Glen Scratch Trapezoid #5a Aerotech D9-7 24mm RMS 1650 Loud.  Very nice flight. Ejection at apogee. Long walk - Glen got wet.
Jeff Estes Avenger - two stage Estes C6-0 (thanks Glen) to C6-5 (old) Nylon streamer. 300 Booster climbed for a long time to ~250' and ignited 2nd stage nicely but upper stage motor CATO'd and blew through the forward end.  The nose cone and streamer ejected but the burning propellent torched the inside of the body tube with a 1" long hole a few inches forward of the motor.  BT is destroyed chared inside and paint blistered off.  Booster recovered intact.
Jeff Estes Beta two stager Estes A10-0T, A3-4T (old) First flight in 25 years.  Nylon streamer. 50 Quick boost & staging.  Upper Stage CATO'd and ejected immediately upon ignition.  Inside of body tube burned, tube spiral expanded damaging paint.  Probably destroyed.
Glen Aerobee 300 Aerotech D9-7 24mm RMS 1000 Chuf at ignition, then nice climb, early ejection, and recovery near pad.  Later found 1" hole blown through side of body tube just forward of motor.

It was nice to start the year with a launch, but disappointing to have damaged/destroyed three of our rockets.

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