Sunday, March 15, 2015

Centuri Day!

This afternoon found me once again in the field with a couple of local TARC teams for practice and qualification flights. My usual comrade, Duane, was working and stopped by for a bit around lunch; Woody was the NAR member who certified today's scores. When Nate and I arrived at the field around 12:30, Pope John Paul II's Team 1 was already there, practicing with their "Nekkid Rocket 1" (I understand there is also a Nekkid Rocket 2, but that was not flown today). Liberty's Team Orion (7th graders) soon joined them, and the flying began in earnest.

Pope John Paul II's Team 1 readies Nekkid Rocket 1
(Click to enlarge).
Liberty Team Orion's Jupiter V (Click to enlarge).
There were a total of 10 TARC flights between 12:30 and 3:30 PM today. Of these, 4 were valid qualification flights - 3 by Pope John Paul II's Team 1 (scores of 111, 50.9, and 36.4) and 1 (score of 49) by Liberty's Team Orion flying their Jupiter V rocket. A week ago, they were flying the Jupiter IV; the Jupiter V was obviously an improvement, as it turned in much better scores than its predecessor. John Paul's Team 1 is finished, and I was struck by the similarity of the scores to those of Liberty Team Centron. I wonder if this pattern will hold for the rest of Huntsville TARC teams?

March 15 TARC flights - green denotes a valid qualification and yellow indicates
a problem allowing a reflight (Click to enlarge).
Two of the flights were oopses - the timers (both of them) had troubles with their stopwatches on one flight of Nekkid Rocket 1, and the payload section of Jupiter V caught a thermal and drifted into the top branches of a tall tree - not recoverable. So they get to rebuild the payload section of Jupiter V. I hope they have an altimeter to replace the one hanging 60 feet above the ground... Very unfortunate.

The Sun was shining, the sky was a beautiful blue, and the temperature was comfortable; naturally the day would see rockets other than TARC birds taking to the air. Nate had brought 6 birds to fly - a Mercury Redstone, Hi Jinks, Patriot semi-scale, Shuttle Express, and Snitch, all by Estes. His other rocket was a Quest Nike Smoke. I had declared today Centuri Day, and brought four of my finest Centuri clones - the Orion, Stellar Hercules, Long Tom, and Egg Crate. The Orion flew on a C6-3, the Hercules on a B6-4, the 2 stage Long Tom on a C6-0/B6-4 combination, and the Egg Crate on two B6-4's.

Orion on the pad (Click to enlarge).My Orion heads up into the blue sky (Click to enlarge).

Nate's Mercury Redstone clears the pad (Click to enlarge).Nate's Nike Smoke invades Pope John Paul II's launch
space (Click to enlarge).

All of the flights went well, except for that of the Long Tom and Egg Crate. The flight of the Long Tom appeared to go well, except that the booster seemed to hang on a little longer than normal, and when it separated, it went into a smooth glide, landing gently on the grass. The only Centuri rocket with a gliding booster is the Black Widow, and I knew that of the Long Tom was supposed to tumble back to Earth. Examination of the returned rocket explained everything - apparently the booster  motor tube coupler fit too tightly on the sustainer motor tube, and the ignition of the upper stage literally burned through the lower motor tube, leaving the coupler still stuck at the base of the upper stage. This internal damage was quickly repaired once I got back home, and the Long Tom is now ready for another flight.

Liberty Team Orion watches the Long Tom blast off
(Click to enlarge).
Long Tom booster coupler after I removed it from the
bottom of the second stage (Click to enlarge).

The Egg Crate's maiden voyage on the two B6's was marred only by the fact that I apparently forgot to turn on the keychain camera taped to the payload section. So no video - duh! I had considered taping it to the Long Tom - which would have yielded a more impressive video - but opted to play it safe after last weekend's Cobra mishap. Clusters are somewhat finicky, but multistage rockets can have much more spectacular crashes; I had visions of camera parts scattered next to an upper stage buried deep into the ground.

Egg Crate on the pad (Click to enlarge).The 2 B motors get the rocket up fast (Click to enlarge)!
Below are a couple more pics from today - tomorrow will see more flights after work. I think I shall live dangerously and fly my clustered, 2 stage Little Beth X-2.

The Stellar Hercules poses before launch (Click to enlarge).Jupiter V starts a qual flight (Click to enlarge).

F motors get TARC rockets off the pad very fast!

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