Tuesday, May 8, 2018

NASA Said There Would Be Days Like This

Maiden flight. And first crash.
Somehow, I've gotten myself on a bit of a rocket kick lately. (Squirrel!) I guess the kicker was when I took my dog for a walk one evening last week down by the field at the end of the road. It was a clear, windless evening, and the farmer had not planted his crops yet. (Corn this year, I think.) In other words, ideal rocket launching conditions!

So I dug through the stash, did some repair work on some, completed one kit that's been lying around for a year, waited for another ideal evening, and off we went.

Well, sort of. Some went off. Some went and came down hard. Some just went boom. Or fizzle. Or whatever.

First up was the little Yankee rocket to check wind conditions. That one went well on an A8-3 rocket, streamer out, nice landing, no damage. Then the troubles started.

Second one, I somehow missed that the launch lug was missing. No go.

Then the parachute troubles began. Of the following five launches, only one actually opened. Damage was a couple broken fins, and one lost one as my helpers were a little eager on retrieval and failed to fully check the rocket before removing it from the LZ. Oops. Not the first time I've had to cut a new fin. Too bad it was that rocket's maiden flight.

Epic fail
Then I tried the shuttle. It felt a little sticky going on the launch rod, which should have told me to abort. But no, I tried anyway, and as the engine went, it just sat there and burned a hole through the shield! It was actually kind of funny when the parachute and wadding popped out, kind of like that old NASA video.

We didn't want to end the evening like that, so I switched engines on one that had been a dud earlier. Then the igniter fizzled. This thing just didn't want to go! I should have listened... when it finally did go, the shock cord snapped! The nose came down nicely on the parachute, but the body fell to earth with all the grace of a falling sack of door knobs. Night over.

Plus the gnats were atrocious! I've never heard them so bad. Yes, heard. Sure you could see the clouds of them, but I don't know that I've ever heard such swarming noise. Weird.

Anyway, I took some notes in a logbook, which I wish I had started years ago. It's back to the repair bench, and hopefully another launch date this summer. Where, I don't know. Once the corn is in, it gets tough!

Those engines burn hot!

No comments:

Post a Comment