Monday, March 18, 2013

Level 2 Certification Attempt 1

By the title, some might be able to guess how my Level 2 Certification flight went. I passed the written test, but the rocket did not pass the flight test. "Sheila", as my rocket ended up being named that day, had a clean launch with a good trajectory. You can see in the lift off video and photos that it looks like the rocket turned arced a little after lift-off. The rocket did turn into the wind a little, but not by much. The exaggerated image is from the wind blowing the exhaust gasses. The problem occurred at parachute deployment. The delay charge went off at the right time, but with such force that it ripped the shock cord off of the centering ring in the body tube. The nose cone and payload section descended on the parachute and were recovered about 3/4 mile from the launch pad. The body tube, however, fell straight down from where the parachute deployed and suffered substantial damage. Needless to say, I will retry for Level 2 certification at the UROC April launch. The rocket is salvageable and will be repaired. BUT, the payload had an altimeter in it, and being that the payload was lowered gently by a parachute, we got altitude data! Sheila (Liberty 3 by Giant Leap Rocketry with an added payload bay) was launched on a Cessaroni J270 and reached an altitude of 4414 ft. This is 75 ft, or 1.7 % lower than the altitude predicted by the OpenRocket software, which is REALLY GOOD considering the wind at the launch site that would have decreased the total altitude reached by a small margin.
The broken body tube. Notice the detached fin and crumple zone in the body.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Welcome to The New Rocket Engineer Blog! To start off, I feel it would be good to give a background of who I am and what I do. I am currently a master's student in mechanical engineering. My area of focus is in fluid dynamics, but I have also studied composite structures; both great fields to help with rocket engineering!

My first experience in high power rocketry (HPR) came last year as a member of a rocket team for a college rocket competition. None of us on the team (4 of us) had any HPR experience, but we got a rocket put together and a motor ordered. We went down to the competition, launched the rocket, then watched it come back down in a fiery heap. However, the initial take-off had left an impression on me. The ground shaking, ear-splitting power of the L800 we launched with blew me away. After that, I knew I wanted to get into high power rocketry myself.

After coming home from the competition, I ordered myself a HPR kit, the Liberty 3 from Giant Leap Rocketry, put it together, then signed myself up for Hellfire XVII out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I joined Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRO), ordered an I170 motor for my Level 1 certification flight, and successfully completed my certification.

At this time, I am again participating on the college rocket team as lead of the payload team. As we progress with our payload design and manufacture, I will post updates to this blog. I am also preparing for my TRO Level 2 certification flight this coming saturday. My original rocket (dubbed The Blue Dart) now has an added payload bay designed to carry an altimeter. I will also do a post on the design and manufacture of the payload bay. Anyway, to conclude this post, I will provide images of my current rockets. I hope that this blog can become a place where many rocket engineers can learn and share different rocketry techniques and skills, as well as fun projects. That's all I have for today!

Name: Sky Lofter (Estes)
Length: 22"
Motors flown: B6-6

Name: Blue Dart (modified Giant Leap Rocketry "Liberty 3")
Length: 62"
Motors flow: I170