NERO Launch Day 07-05-2010

First of all: the launch campaign of 07-05-2010 was a 100% success story. Both rockets flew great and were recovered in a condition in which they can be flown again with new reloads.

The campaign started on Thursday 06-05-2010. In the morning some fresh grains for the DECA 8 grain motor were cast to match the original static test propellant mass. Therefore the motor was almost identical to the one tested in March. In the afternoon it was time to drive to the hotel which was kindly arranged by the NAVRO. After a hot meal it was time to finalise the DECA II preparation works. Some connections needed to be re-soldered and the drogue and main charges were connected to the RDAS tiny altimeter. Tests confirmed that all was working fine. Regarding the  H13A: this rocket required a smaller drogue chute due to the expected high winds. All splicings were secured with thread, a live test of the recovery charges was performed and all igniters fired. The day was concluded in the hotel bar where we met a group of students from Belgium who had built 2 copies of the Castor rocketoriginally built by BK. However it was uncertain wherther they were able to launch due to motor issues.  Around 2:00 am we finished our beers and called it a night.

Friday 07-05-2010 started out with rain which would last the whole day and was predicted. The sky was cast with clouds at around 400 – 500m, temperature was around 9° Celsium with a 3 – 4 bft wind blowing from the North / North-East. Unfortunately the KaDi-car had a faulthy generator and was therefore unable to visit us to offer its refreshments.Although, hot coffee and tea was available at the NAVRO boot. The launch rail was errected again with to many problems. The azimuth was set at 18° and with an elevation of 83º. The NERO tent was also set up and offered the much needed protection against the pooring rain during rocket preperations. 

DECA II – The DECA II rocket was scheduled to be launched in the 12:00 – 12:30 window. Preparations were started at 11:45. A small issue was noticed that the main straw igniter charge had buckled and cracked in the middle. This was repaired with a bit of aluminum tape. The onboard camera was switched on and the recovery electronics were inserted into the body tube and secured. Motor was connected to the recovery section. The GPS tracker was actived, parachute inserted and connected to the payload / nosecone built by BO (which included the I-AIM prototype built by MB from the UK). At exactly 12:00 the rocket was carried down to the launch rail. Power on, switched to arm, all holes taped but one for the altimeter. At 12:27 the count down begun and with the instant ignition of the BP/magnesiun powder igniter the DECA II leaped out of the launch rail. With a 2s burn that seemed to last forever (note that almost all our motors burn for <1s) the rocket was soon lost in the clouds and on its way to +/- 2km. During this time all we could do was looking at the stopwatch. After a minute or so the rocket was spotted. Main chute was out and the rocket landed with out any damage. The GPS tracker was called in with my cell phone and replied within 20s with a SMS: lat 52.397567 ; lon 005.921439. Considering the position of the launch rail it landed 368m away. Altitude beep out was 7115 ft. Post-flight analysis of the RDAS file showed an apogee of 2036 meters, a little higher than expected even with the 1,1kg of ballast in the payload section.

Click here for a video clip of the onboard camera: DECA II onboard – Flight I – 07-05-2010. Video quality is poor due to compression but still 25fps.

Click here for a video clip of the lift off as seen from launch control: DECA II – Flight I – 07-05-2010

H13A – This was a NERO group project for which I had built the motor, the parachute recovery hardware + fiberglass nosecone. After the launch of the DECA II it was time to prepare the Thrust motor. A 1466gr freestanding grain was cast some weeks ago with a low density (didn’t do a lot of effort to remove the air from the molten mixture). At around 13:45 the rocket was placed in the rail and count down begun at 13:55. The H13A left the rail what seemed like a canon shot. At this moment I’m not sure what the burntime was but it looked like a lot shorter than the 0,9-1,0s which is normal. Soon the rocket was also spotted below the clouds and hanging on its main parachute. The rocket landed nearby the DECA II landing spot but the GPS tracker did not return the position. Post-flight examination showed that due to the violent ejection of the hatch the battery cover and battery itself were ripped from the GPS tracker. Next time we will use a simple tape around the tracker to prevent this.

Click here for a video clip of the lift off as seen from launch control:  H13A – 07-05-2010

Extensive flight analysis by BO – H13A Summery flight analysis – 06.10.2010 – BO

Belgium student project – Final year students from Industrial Sciences, VTI Torhout – West Vlaanderen who were plagued by motor misfortune were finally helped out by JHR with a Aerotech J-350. This motor was placed into the rocket just around 15:00. With only minutes left and also a misfire the rocket left therail only to arch over at the 8s apogee and after which it ploughed itself into the ground for reasons yet unknown.

NAVRO / DARE – There were a couple of other goods launches & recoveries by the NAVRO & DARE although there were some ill fated SRP’s. I do not have much info on these rockets as I was having two projects launched on the same day.

However, I’m glad to inform that both rockets can be flown again in October 2010! Photos by SR, JB & JvdB. Worth mentioning: all great lift off shots by SR.