Friday, April 18, 2014

School yard launch at Horizon Elementary

This time of year is Space Week at the schools here in the Huntsville area. There are all sorts of activities for the kiddos - egg drops with the cooperation of the fire department (who provide a ladder truck from which the eggs are dropped), exhibits from Marshall Space Flight Center like the traveling Shuttle model, and, of course, rocket launches. Vince is the usual point of contact for the local teachers for demo launches, and today was launch day at Horizon Elementary School. I love the enthusiasm of young kids - they are curious about everything - so naturally I volunteered to assist. Often these events are rained out, but today we lucked out - there were clouds, but no rain.

We arrived at the school a little past 9 AM and checked in. Each of us had brought 4 rockets for the launch, making our choices based on the smallness of the Horizon field (playground actually). My Estes Snitch flying saucer, Cloud Hopper rabbit rocket, Centuri Taurus clone, and Estes Big Bertha accompanied me; Vince had an Art Applewhite saucer, a Fliskits Thing-a-ma-jig, a Semroc Javelin, and a Quest bird (I can't remember the name). Wind was a little breezy and blowing towards the trees in the west, so we set up on the basketball court, which was as far east as we could get - this turned out not to be wise, at least for me.  A and B motors were loaded in the conventional rockets; my Snitch was powered by a C6-3, and Vince prepped his saucer with a D12, the most powerful motor flown today. Did I mention that the Horizon field is small? And that concrete is hard?

Cloud Hopper ready for launch! (click to enlarge)
We set up two pads, and agreed that we would alternate flights to keep up a decent pace. The Horizon teacher had provided us with three young lads to act as the recovery team, which they did very well (Why can't I have a recovery team at Manchester where I have to waddle hundreds of yards to fetch my rockets?). Vince launched first and I followed with my Cloud Hopper, which flew well enough on an A10-3T motor. Unfortunately, it landed right in the midst of the kids on the concrete basketball court, and I don't know what did more damage - the rocket hitting the pavement or the children grabbing the bunny rocket. Anyway, here's the Cloud Hopper after its flight - not pretty, but I am going to try to repair it.

Broken bunny rocket
Vince's next flight drifted a bit far and ended up in a small tree; however, a kind adult managed to get it down, so he brought home every one of his rockets, which is not the norm at Horizon. I launched my Taurus on a B6-4, which flew nice and straight. It too landed on the pavement, and one of the pods broke off. 2 flights, 2 damaged rockets - not looking good for Bill on this launch. Next up were the saucers, which did their usual low and slow thing. I was happy that mine was undamaged - things were looking up!

Centuri Taurus clone (left) and Estes Snitch
I ended the demo launch with the ever reliable Big Bertha on a B6-2. It too landed on the pavement, but, being built like a tank, there was just a minor ding on a fin. I taped one of my keychain cameras to the side of the rocket, which acquired the video below. You can hear how fired up the kids are - that's what makes these launches fun!

1 comment:

  1. Nice article Bill! It sounds like everyone had a blast! Pardon the pun!