Flight Log - LDRS XX - Lucerne Dry Lake, CA
I had the opportunity to attend this year's
LDRS XX (Large Dangerous Rocket Ships)
launch hosted by two of the Southern California
Tripoli prefects, LTR (Lucerne Test Range) and
ROC (Rocketry Organization of California).
I'd like to start off by thanking these two prefects, their members, Tripoli,
the management, and the vendors, particularly Steve and Neil from
Rocket Silo and the representatives
from Aerotech. They did a great job of
putting on what is the largest launch I've ever been to, hosting over 2500
visitors, 1000 rocketeers, and what seemed like a thousand rocket launches
a day for the four day event. Thanks Guys!
Arrived at the range about 4:30 on Friday afternoon. Operations had already
shut down due to the vicious winds. I heard tell of nice rocket launches and
walked the flight line looking at folk's stuff. I was hoping to buy some motors
and casings, but all of the vendors had already closed up shop. I was kind of
tired from the drive, so decided to go back to the hotel (stayed at the GreenTree
Inn in Victorville), have a nice dinner and a relaxing evening in. Here's a few
pictures taken while walking the flight line:
Got to the range Saturday morning at about 6:00 a.m. and grabbed a spot
on the flight line with some of the other DART folks. Our club was
well represented, Andy and Joanne, Ray, Val, John, and a number of other
members flew rockets at the event.
One of, if not the most spectacular event
of the weekend was Andy and Joanne's 1/3 scale V2 flying on an "M" and a bunch
of K's. The 239 pound 15 foot tall rocket grabbed the launch rod when it took
off at about a 45' angle, arcing back over the crowd to crash behind the
flight line. It was very low (300 ft?) when it passed over our heads. It
popped and stripped the parachute like it wasn't even there as it was
probably going over 300 mph when it crashed in the parking lot a couple
hundred feet away from where I was standing. I remember saying to myself
"it's not supposed to be getting bigger!" as you could clearly see the
paint job on the rocket as it flew overhead. When it hit the ground (thank god
it didn't hit a RV ... it would have totalled it), it left an 8 inch hole
about 3 feet around in the hard desert floor. I know Andy and Joanne
and everyone present were both saddened by the crash, yet relieved
that no one was hurt and there was no property damage. One thing I
found funny was that immediately after the crash, everybody I saw was
smiling, and dozens of people were running to see the crash site.
A quote I heard on the net about sums it up. "I like Warren, but
I love good carnage!" ...
In the first picture, the V2 is arcing back over the flight line.
You can see the hole in the ground in the second picture, and in the
third folks are loading the remnants (mostly the booster) into a
One of the most successful and beautiful flights of the weekend
was the AeroPac Russian N1 project. You can click
to see a 3M MPEG movie of the flight.
Here's a few more images from the weekend ...
Flight #1 -
DoubleTrouble #1 (I211-M)
Saturday - Double Trouble's first flight.
For the first flight of the weekend, I chose to fly Double Trouble on an I211 medium.
The flight was perfect. The rocket climbed to about 2500 ft, opened up at apogee and
came down under drogue. It opened up at about 700 ft to deploy the main chute and
gently touched down. When I took the rocket apart, I found that the apogee charge
had not gone off, but that the motor had separated the rocket. After much thinking
I determined that this was o.k. because I had simulated that the rocket would open
very close to apogee with the I211-M. When the rocket opens due to the motor, the
electronics module is separated from the body and doesn't fire the charge. It's
kind of cool if you think about it. But over the weekend, as it turned out, I never
really used altimeter based apogee ejection. I'll have to try longer delays at
Ocotillo to prove to myself that it's workin'.
Flight #2 -
DoubleTrouble #2 (J90-L shaved)
Saturday - Double Trouble's second flight.
I shaved 1/8" from the J90 delay so once again the motor ejection did the trick.
The rocket flew real nice. The altimeter beeped out 2948ft, which was substantially
higher than my simulation of 2578ft, thus substantiating the theory that motor
ejection was a-ok. However, when the rocket got down I found that the main charge
had forced the screws connecting the forward body tube to the electronics module
(the screws were just tiny wood screws right into the rocket body). I replaced
them with epoxied-nuts and machine screws that night in the hotel room :-)
Otherwise the flight counted as a complete success.
Flight #3 -
GPARS #1 (I211-M)
Saturday - GPARS first flight
For the third flight on Saturday, I decided to send GPARS up on an I211.
Once again, the boost was perfect and motor ejection separated the rocket
at apogee. It took a little while for the body-chute to open up, but the
parafoil opened very near apogee. The parafoil flew back over the flight lin
from east to west and landed about 200 yards away from the pads
on the western side. When I got to the rocket, it beeped out an actual
altitude of 3040 ft ... way higher than the 1958 I had simulated.
During flight, I diddled with the R/C controls, and at points seemed to almost have it,
but in the end I couldn't honestly say I was controlling the thing. At
that point I was using baling wire as the control extensions and I think
they were getting bent during boost and ejection.
Flight #4 -
SPRS #12 (G38-7FJ)
Saturday - SPRS Demo attempt
For fun we decided to fly SPRS. It went up and opened ok. I had
reworked the nosecone adding a rechargeable battery and switch.
The changes might have affected something cuz I couldn't seem to
get it trimmed for flight. It landed ignomiously 300 yards out on
the eastern side of the range.
Flight #5 -
SkyDream #7 (J135-L shaved)
On Sunday my agenda called for "pushing the envelope". I wanted to fly
some rockets high and fast. In the end, I decided that SkyDream was the
most expendable, so I loaded it up with the biggest motor it had ever
seen to date (the J135), shaved about 3/16's off the delay and launched
it first thing Sunday morning.
She flew nice and straight, opened right on cue, and landed without any damage.
The altimeter beeped out 5385 ft, which was my first flight over a mile,
and a little higher than the 5120 ft I had simulated or the 5265 ft acheived at
Ocotillo on the same motor. A very nice flight indeed.
Flight #6 -
GPARS #2 (I211-M)
Sunday - GPARS second flight
I wanted to try GPARS again to see if I could work the kinks out.
In the hotel room the night before I had re-rigged the parafoil,
eliminating the baling wire and using 90lb test line to bring the
shroud lines out of the electronics module. I also had to make
a new shock cord as the previous flight had
burned the original one. I also decided to fly it without the
GPS unit and servo controller ... as it is not worth the risk
that I might crunch them until I get the R/C flight thing working
GPARS flew to 2520 ft (according to the altimeter) and opened up
just fine. Once again, I nearly had control of the R/C
parafoil, but never seemed to quite get it. The module landed about
300 yards out on the eastern part of the range, the body landing
a hundred or so feet away from the module.
Flight #7 -
SkyDream #8 (K185-L shaved)
Sunday - new personal high-water mark for altitude and motor size!
For the last flight of the weekend I decided to fly SkyDream on a K185.
I didn't quite want to go supersonic yet, and sims showed her reaching
over 8000 ft and approximately 654 mph on this motor.
It's a shame I don't have footage of this flight as it was probably
the prettiest one I've done so far. The rocket streaked straight up
with a slight roar, on the 7.5 second long-burn K185. Well out of sight by the
time the motor burned out, it coasted another 12 or so seconds and you
could just barely make out the puff of smoke when it opened.
The RSO even said it looked cool over the P.A. When the rocket came
down (about 3/4 mile out on the eastern side), there was no damage
and the altimeter beeped out 9270 ft!!! Wow oh Wow.
Nearly ten thousand feet in the air. Two miles straight up.
Makes me think of 15000 ft (the "Goddard Line"), supersonic
rockets, and potentially a level III project :-)
Summary of LDRS XX
LDRS XX was a great time. I can't wait to fly SkyDream again
on a K motor. I'm thinking another K185 to film it, then try a K550
for supersonic or shred! Boy-oh-boy did we ever have fun and see a lot of
truly "Large Dangerous Rockets". Once again, huge kudos and thanks to
all of the people who organized the event.