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Advanced Rocketry News
January-June 2004


Aerospike engine test by CSULB and Garvey
Cal State U. at Long Beach - Aerospace Engineering
Succesful firing on June 23, 2003 of a liquid fueled aerospike engine
built by students at Cal. State University at Long Beach Aerospace
in collaboration with Garvey Spacecraft.

Articles here describe news and developments in advanced amateur and student rocketry, experimental rocketry, and innovations at small entrepreneurial rocket companies.

See the Advanced Rocketry section for links and resources in these areas and be sure to check out the Records, Achievments & Competitions section.

The RLV News section also overlaps with this section, especially with regard to the X PRIZE competition. See RLV Countdown for links to suborbital and X PRIZE projects by small organizations.

June 27, 2004

Prospecto 4
Prospector 4 from Garvey/CSULB collaboration takes off
from its launch pad in the Mojave on June 24, 2004.

Static test of a propylene/LOX engine
A static fire test the same day of a propylene/LOX engine
by the Garvey/CSULB collaboration

More about the Mojave rocket tests ... John Garvey of Garvey Space and the CALVEIN (California Launch Vehicle Education Initiative) collaboration with Cal State Univ. at Long Beach has forwarded to me the following summary of the tests last week at the RRS Mojave Test Area:


In case you have not heard yet, the two CALVEIN field tests on Thursday produced mixed results. On the positive side, the new EGSE gear and LabVIEW-based software appear to have functioned as intended during the second LOX/propylene static fire test, while the Prospector 4 with its upgraded 1200 lbf-thrust LOX/ethanol engine achieved the desired high-g launch. These are both good for future activities.

On the negative side, the static fire burn experienced several significant anomalies, first during ignition and then several seconds later into the burn when a ball of fire erupted above the injector (fortunately, control was maintained throughout these events and the burn was terminated and SFTA was safed with relatively minor damage). In the case of the P4, the recovery system malfunctioned, leading to a high speed crash that destroyed both the vehicle and the FMMR payload provided by USC. This failure is particularly frustrating in that it involved exactly the same hardware and recovery approach that were successfully demonstrated on the previous P4 flight in December.

Here are several photos [Sorry, I don't have the bandwidth to post these. A couple of them in reduced form are shown above. - Ed.] that partially capture the activities at the MTA (thanks due to the Flometrics/SDSU crew for the great action shots of both the static fire test and the P4 launch up the rail). We are still waiting for more to come in and will have a more complete summary of events after inspection of the hardware in the lab this coming Tuesday evening (note - there will NOT be a working group meeting on Thursday). We hopefully can make good progress with respect to determining the root causes for the anomalies and failures and associated corrective actions. We'll also be getting started on the updated test reports.

Among other things, scheduling complexity associated with two tests made operations a tougher challenge than normal, particularly because late arrival of key hardware items on Thursday morning forced several changes in plans. We were lucky in that the excellent weather held throughout the day. The more extensive documentation used on these tests than on previous ones helped identify issues and maintain control. Again, a lot of appreciation to all the folks who made it possible to run these tests on a weekday.

More to come in the near future.


June 25, 2004

Mojave rocket tests ... Chirs Roberts of the San Diego State Univ. Rocket Team posted a report on the aRocket mailing list about tests yesterday at the Reaction Research Society Mojave Test Area. Here is most of it (with links added):

First off Garvey space systems static fired a propylene/LOX engine. This was the same combination they used in a test back in March which seemed to work well, they changed something on the valves this time (i think??). The engine had a rough start and never fully developed full thrust, once it did the engine started a small fire on the mount section and the test was aborted. We were told that a Pressure transducer on the engine ruptured leading to the fire.

The second test was a launch of the Long Beach State/Garvey Space system Prospector 4 rocket. This was a Alcohol/LOX engine, which had a larger than normal engine (which was needed for a payload experiment from USC). The Launch of P4 was very nice. The larger engine made this liquid take-off in a hurry. The flight was awesome, a short 3-4 second burn time put it around 5,000 ft (Rough guess!!), but on the way down the recovery system did not work properly and the nose cone did not come off and the rocket impacted the ground about a half mile from the launch site. The once 12 foot rocket was reduced to about 1.5 feet upon impact. Almost a flawless flight.

Last on the test stand was the San Diego State/Flometrics group (which i am a part off). After having two unsuccessfully flights the group decided to static test it's LOX/Kerosene engine first this time. The test was a complete success! A first for the SDSU group! The engine burned for approximately 12 seconds and it as a good clean burn. The group was even able to see the shock diamonds inside the plume. In addition the group added in transducers and a load cell (max 75 lb thrust). On further investigation of video footage the group did notice two minor problems which will need to be addressed in the next flight. One was a hard start, and the other was a continual leak in the the lox dome (which has been a problem for a while). But overall the group was happy to have a rocket work as they had hoped, after two failures.

Chris Roberts
SDSU Rocket Team

Update: Here are some images from the SDSU/Flometrics test: Static fire (1154x1450 pixels), Static Setup (852x1136 pixels). Steve Harrington reports on aRocket that "the specific impulse of this engine is 209 sec. Since we had significant droop in our surplus regulators we did not achieve the full impulse."

June 17, 2004

Advanced rocketry left out... Rand Simberg notes that the Aldridge Committee sees space exploration as an important way to inspire students to pursue technical subjects but didn't take the opportunity to support hobby rocketry. Such support might have helped to defend it and other technical hobbies against attacks by over-zealous regulators: Even More Aldridge Thoughts - Transterrestrial Musings - June.17.04

June 15, 2004

Dragoon II launch - June 7, 2004

A 23 mile high for Paragon Dragoon II rocket... According to Laura Cremers of Paragon Astronautics the team successfully launched "the Dragoon II rocket in our first attempt the morning of June 7, 2004, but did not reach space. We are still analyzing the data, but estimate at this time that the rocket reached 120,000 feet.[37km]"

[Update June 25, 2004: Subsequent analysis indicates the apogee was probably considerably less than 120k ft. The uncertainty in the altitude is too big to provide a definitive value.]

The ultimate goal of the amateur group is to reach 350k feet (107km.) This altitude puts the launch at third on our list of amateur rocket launch altitude records.

Garvey Spacecraft and CSULB on June 24th will carry out a "second flight of the Prospector 4 and the second static fire test of a LOX/propylene engine. The Prospector 4 will use a standard LOX/ethanol 1200 lbf-thrust pintle ablative engine. It will also carry another USC-provided experiment. The LOX/propylene static fire test will feature an updated pintle injector design and the next set of upgrades to the electrical ground support equipment architecture, specifically more extensive use of LabVIEW functions for command and telemetry."

The students also are continuing to build the Nanosat Launch Vehicle (NLV) Mockup. Recently, "they put the partially completed stage elements vertical for the first time. This full-scale vehicle mockup is intended to stimulate the requirements and design definition process and to serve as a pathfinder for NLV-related operations."

June 1 , 2004

More GoFast launch pictures at Derek Deville's web site.

May 25, 2004

Flometrics Pistonless Pump

Pistonless pump update... Steve Harrington of Flometrics distributed the animation above with the following update on their pistonless fuel pump project:

...Two pumping chambers are used in each pump, each one being alternately refilled and pressurized. The pump starts with both chambers filled (not shown). One chamber is pressurized, and fluid is delivered to the rocket engine from that chamber. Once the level gets low in one chamber, the other chamber is pressurized; and flow is thereby established from both sides during a short transient period until full flow is established from the other chamber. Then the nearly empty chamber is vented and refilled. Also I could not show the main tank level going down in a looping animation.
Feel free to show it to you colleagues. Note that the valves work in the animation, but it is not nearly as deluxe as the ones you guys put out.

I know that for some people in the business it is not real until it is animated, even though we tested the pump with a rocket engine: Rocket Pump Test

...White paper(pdf) that deals with the application of the pistonless pump for the Crew Exploration Vehicle ... We think that high pressure tanks for pre-positioned propellant are not the best solution, so the CEV needs pumps.

Note that the pistonless pump is a very robust system. Our pump has been sitting in a rusty steel tank for a year and it still works great. Try that with a turbopump or even a piston pump. You definitely do not want to be rebuilding a pump on the way back from Mars.

Here are links for two papers, the first one describes the pump, and the second one shows why it trades well against turbopumps.

Pistonless Dual Chamber Rocket Fuel Pump, July 2003 (pdf)
Launch Vehicle and Spacecraft System Design using the Pistonless Pump, April 2004 (pdf)

The next thing we are going to do is build a couple of pumps and tanks to run both LOX and RP for an Atlas vernier in a flight configuration with some students at SDSU.

May 24, 2004

CSXT recovery... I had missed this article: Ham Radio-Carrying Rocket Exceeds Goal; Avionics Recovered Intact - ARRLWeb - May.19.04

May 21, 2004

Even more CSXT... A longer video that shows more of the flight is now available at video gallery - CSXT - the Civilian Space eXploration Team.

Note that besides the CivilianSpace.com site, there is ROCKETMAN HQ.

Amateur vs. professional vs experimental... I was contacted by someone who was concerned about the amateur label for the CSXT launch. The CSXT team included two propulsion experts from Environmental Aeroscience Corp. (eAc) - Derek Deville and Korey Kline. As described by their aRocket note, they were deeply involved in the propulsion system for the Go Fast vehicle. However, they did the work as a volunteer effort and so Andrew and I consider that the project still falls under the "amateur" category.

Andrew brought up the "amateur" issue on the aRocket forum. The following was posted by Korey who suggests we look for a better term to describe these kinds of advanced rocketry projects carried out by volunteers that include people who work day jobs in the rocket industry:

Time to lose the term "Amateur"

As many of you may recall from previous posts, the term "Amateur" has been a hot button issue for me for some time, so I'll try my best to not rehash old discussions by simply summing up those thoughts by stating: I have always been in favor of the term "Experimental" because I think it's a more accurate description of our activity and specifically because of the often overlooked third dictionary definition of "Amateur"; -one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science. Yes the term "Amateur" has a long and respectable tradition; but it's time for a new paradigm.

As a member of the Burt Rutan SpaceShipOne Propulsion program as well as the CSXT propulsion team, I would like to share a few things I've learned from these experiences so let me start with the obvious;

Anything that's going to space is going to be BIG.

Perhaps in the old days of the RRS/PRS/RRI, TripoliX, HPR Rocket Trophy the definition of "amateur" was relevant. Back then a rocket that went to 50K
Ft could be built by a single individual. From my experience a 100K Ft rocket is going to take 4 to 5 serious team members. Now that were talking +300K Ft, a team of 20 will be required. If it's man rated I think you could double those numbers. For progress to be made, the technical expertise required to reach those higher altitudes will require at least some team members to have some "Real World" professional experience.

Any group, organization or individuals whom are seriously interested in advancing their own agenda to space, would jump at the chance for a government grant, SBIR or commercial contract.

This effectively turns SUCESSFUL & INOVATIVE "Amateur" organizations into "Professionals"; some are just better than others at marketing themselves. Additionally anyone interested in rockets will naturally migrate towards those types of professional jobs as individuals. Groups that 5 years ago were truly recognized as "Amateur", many have seen the light and accepted government money. Projects of this size are also not going to happen without private funding like the "GoFast" company.

My point being that the term "Amateur" is increasing becoming irrelevant if we are trying to get to space in any reasonable time. If you define "amateur" by any definition that will require a bunch of accountants or some other judgment body who's interpretation would essentially be arbitrary anyway, I would expect detractors to minimize the attempt and endless debate for every altitude attempt that comes along.

I would suggest and hope the rocket community would as of TODAY accept the term "Civilian Altitude Record" meaning no direct governmental funding! This falls inline with the original FINDS / CATS prize as well puts the attempt on par with the more relevant X-Prize. This maximizes the progress into space that I think we all are looking for. It can be simply verified by whether or not there is a government contract number directly associated with the altitude attempt and all government contracts & SBIR's are publicly available for viewing. What is the need for all the technicalities????? Let's make it easy for everybody and move forward as a whole!!!!! Altitude IS Progress!

Putting the CSXT altitude attempt in perspective, 77 miles is higher than the expected altitude of the SS1 and requirement for the X-Prize. So let me be the first to congratulate the Civilian Space Exploration Team (CSXT) on their "Civilian Altitude Record" of 77 miles!!!!!

Black Skies!
K2 [Korey Kline]

May 20, 2004

More CSXT... Pictures of the launch are available at Rocket High ...

... A congrats from the SFF: Go "GoFast"! Space Frontier Foundation Congratulates First Amateur Team to Enter Space - Space Frontier Foundation - May.19.04

Side effects... Andrew Case looks at the issue of misuse of advanced rocketry technology: Amateur Rocketry and Terrorism - Transterrestrial Musings - May.19.04

May 19, 2004

Update: 77 miles/124km + video... Another aRocket posting from Andrew:

HOT NEWS - The payload has been recovered and the data analyzed. It verifies just over 77 miles max altitude.

Anything plastic touching the inside skin of the nose cone was melted from the heat. The stickers were all gone but the anodizing held up. The nose
cone tip was damaged on impact so ablation effects couldn't be determined. The electronics were all in great shape. Weightless for over 7 minutes.

Now my original post that I was writing...

Korey and I were there to share in this wonderful experience. The launch was flawless. The team assembled by Ky and led by Jerry Larson was running like a well oiled machine. The base camp included the GoFast bus and GoFast helicopter, there for search and rescue, along with a significant array of ground station electronics and antennas. I am confident that the data will be retrieved and will validate the rockets travels into space. It was a real privilege to be part of the team and we extend our thanks and congratulations to all involved.

Now a little bit about our involvement with the team. We are newest members of the CSXT team joining only six months ago. Since that time, in
collaboration with Ky and Jerry, we have designed, developed, and built the largest amateur rocket motor ever. The solid propellant motor contained a derivation of the propellant that I have used for my O and P motors for the past few years. The motor is designated as an S-50000 containing 435 lbs of AP based propellant configured in a monolithic case-bonded grain with a central fin-o-cyl core with a nearly neutral thrust profile. The case was aluminum 6061 with an OD of 10" and 175" long. The end closures were retained with two rows of radial bolts. The nozzle was created from a new process using a combination of graphite, carbon fiber, and ablative materials and featured a bell shaped exit cone. A number of static tests were performed on 3" and 6" hardware to characterize the propellant. A full scale static firing revealed issues with the motors end closures that were corrected for the flight motor. Chuck Rogers assisted in designing the test configurations and in addressing issues such as erosive burning and nozzle losses. The propellant, known as D8, in 6" P-motor sub-scale testing had a delivered Isp of 222.6 seconds. This results in a final minimum delivered total impulse of 96,831 lb-sec. We believe that the flight motor should have had a slightly higher delivered Isp due to altitude effects and delivered just over 100,000 lb-sec.

Video of the launch is at http://www.hybrids.com/video/csxt_flight.mpg

Derek Deville
Korey Kline

70 miles/113km... This posting at arocket was forwarded to me my Andrew Case:

I just got a call from Ky out at Black Rock (Tue 5/18 7:45pm cdt). They found the payload section intact 20 miles from the launch site and had just returned to base. They are opening it up right now.

The 12,000lb thrust motor burned for 10 seconds and pushed the rocket to an estimated 4,200 miles per hour. The GPS units cut in and out so the exact speed and altitude are not determined, but the altitude is estimated to be 70 miles.

The pyrotechnic separation of the rocket sections worked as planned and the nosecone section landed under a Rocketman R4 parachute and landed on the side of a mountain.

It is believed that the booster/motor section came in ballistic. 3 sonic booms were heard as it re-entered. [possibly echoes from the mountains? - jph]

Ky will be calling in to a morning radio program in the Twin Cities: KS95 at 6:45am Wed morning. Several television talk show appearances are scheduled (I don't have the times yet).

Ky said that everything went perfectly on the first launch attempt and the flight was flawless.

Quite an accomplishment! Congratulations again to the CSXT team.

Jeff Hove

Another CSXT article... This article - Team Claims Success With Rocket Launch - Space.com/AP - May.18.04 - brings up the question of whether this will be recognized as an official record at Federation Aeronautique Internationale. In our records page here, we cite the previous max altitude for an amateur group as 80km by George Garboden and Reaction Research Society, Nov.23,1996, Black Rock, Nevada with the as 2-stage booster with Dart 2nd stage.

BTW: The article puts Burt Rutan and the SS1 in with "other amateur groups"!!

May 18, 2004

Another CSXT article... The CSXT launch is getting wide coverage: Amateur rocket fired into space - BBC - May.18.04

More CSXT reports... First amateur rocket blasts into space - New Scientist - May.18.04 * Rocketman' on Cloud 9 - TwinCities.com - May.18.04 (via spacetoday.net)

Congratulations CSXT!! An amateur team finally reaches 100km.Ky Michaelson's Civilian Space eXploration Team made it to space last Sunday with the 21-foot ‘Go Fast’ rocket: Rocket Carrying Ham Radio Payload Reaches Space! - ARRLWeb - May.17.04 (via RocketForge). See May 7th press release.

May 13, 2004

CSXT launch article at space.com:Homegrown Rocketeers Prepare for Their Next Space Shot - Space.com - May.12.04

May 12, 2004

BYU igniter project... From Jon Goff comes word of the latest udpate: Structure Finished, Looking for Regulators, and Plumbing Work - BYU Space Development Club - Catalytic Torch Igniter Project Updates - May.11.04

May 7, 2004

CSXT goes for record launch... Ky Michaelson's CSXT group will try again to break the amateur altitude record:

Amateur rocket space shot scheduled for May 17th, 2004.

The CSXT (Civilian Space eXploration Team) has received approval from the Federal Government to conduct its historic space launch later this month. “We’re confident that our ‘Go Fast’ Space Shot 2004 Rocket will be the first rocket built by amateurs to be launched into space,” says CSXT founder, Ky Michaelson.

The CSXT team was formed with two goals: to achieve something that has never been done before and to open the doors to low cost space launches for the private sector - proving that space is open for exploration and use by everyone and not just the world’s governments.

The CSXT team is comprised of 18 rocket and space enthusiasts from across the country led by Program Manager Jerry Larson, “I am proud to be part of a group of such talented and resourceful people – the team is destined to win the amateur space race.”

“This will be a great milestone for civilian rocketry,” says project co-leader and avionics team manager, Eric Knight, who has designed a state of the art avionics package that provides real-time video and tracking information, including engine performance, speed, and altitude.

The 21-foot ‘Go Fast’ rocket will reach a speed of over 4000 MPH in less than 9 seconds and reach a maximum altitude of 69 miles.

The ‘Go Fast’ rocket is sponsored by Go Fast Sports & Beverages Co. (www.gofastsports.com) and Fuscient, LLC (www.fuscient.com)

Ky Michaelson

May 1 , 2004

Pistonless fuel pumps and student rockets... Steven Harrington of Flometrics circulated this update:

"My paper and presentation at the Responsive Space conference are both up. see www.rocketfuelpump.com The paper includes a trade study which shows that a first stage which uses the pistonless pump is comparable or lighter than a gas generator turbopump system without the expense of a turbopump development program... The students are working hard on their next rocket, see www.sdsurocket.org for details on that project. Also the students in my rocket propulsion class are working on the design details of an Atlas vernier powered rocket which will use the pump to achieve a mass ratio of 4. We are planning on a static test later this summer. The flight test will require a bit of paperwork, since the projected altitude of the vehicle is over 100 miles."

April 30, 2004

Student orbital launcher... The Cal State Long Beach/ Garvey Spacecraft collaboration has built a full scale mockup of its planned Nanosat Launch Vehicle (NLV) that would put 10kg into LEO. See Garvey Spacecraft - News.

April 27, 2004

BYU rocketry.. Jon Goff and fellow students form the BYU Space Development Club. Check out the latest on their igniter project: Catalytic Torch Igniter Project Updates - Apr.26.04

April 20, 2004

Beyond-Earth Enterprises launches its first large vehicle:


COLORADO SPRINGS--Beyond-Earth Enterprises, a Colorado Springs-based small payload sub-orbital launch company, announced its first successful launch on the Road to Space. The LC rocket reached an altitude of approximately 6000 feet at 3:30 MDT on April 17th. Total burn time for the engine was less than three seconds.

Several seconds into the flight the nose cone sheared, causing the recovery system to lock up and fail to deploy. The craft crashed on the launch range and was fully recovered.

The flight was considered a success by the Beyond-Earth team as several new technologies were proven during the flight: the fin section and motor mounts allowed the craft to fly straight and true; during the crash, LC collapsed along crumple zones as designed which minimized damage to the landing site and cargo. Even though the rocket was destroyed, more than 80% of the cargo survived.

Joe Latrell, CEO of Beyond-Earth Enterprises, says the company is highly motivated to encourage the average American to reach for space again. "We want [the public] to see that they could go to space someday--soon. This is a minor setback. We expect some things to break now-we'll learn from our mistakes. We're already working on the next launch for Memorial Day Weekend! We have a great team."

Launch Craft -Mission One (LC-MO01) carried a demonstration payload of student contest entries, stuffed animals, and coins.

About the Road to Space series-This series of rockets is to prove, over the next two years, that rockets can be at least as safe as airplanes, leading the way for Space Tourism. The next flight in the series will be May 29, 2004.

About Beyond-Earth Enterprises--Originally an X-Prize competitor, Beyond-Earth is leading the way to commercialization of space by providing small payload launch capabilities at affordable rates. Beyond-Earth officers are committed to revitalizing the American Public's interest in Space and conduct educational demonstrations and lectures at area schools. The company is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with launch facilities at the Oklahoma Space Port. Additional information can be found at http://www.beyond-earth.com

NASA launches aerospike... A team from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC), and Blacksky Corp. announced the successful launch of a solid-fueled rocket with an aerospike nozzle : Aerospike Engine Flight Test Successful - Dryden Flight Research Center - Apr.19.04 * Photo gallery. The rocket was built by built by Cesaroni Technology. The team claims this test provides"the first known data from a solid-fueled aerospike rocket in flight."

As pointed out by a HS reader, the press release does not mention the Cal State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft team that twice successfully launched an aerospike nozzle on a liquid fueled engine last year: Adv. Rocketry News - Sept.22.03 & Dec.10.03.

Also, a few years ago a guy in Utah launched a small solid rocket with an aerospike nozzle. It was mentioned in Aviation Week but I have no reference info on it.

March 30, 2004

NASA tests aerospikes from Cesaroni Technology. Via a posting on today's aRocket discussion mailing, Anthony Cesaroni reported that "NASA flew our first aerospike motor successfully today and made a full recovery under canopy. I don't have any details yet. Tests 2 and 3 go off tomorrow and Wednesday, conditions permitting."

According to the earlier news item about the program, blacksky company is helping NASA Dryden Aerospike Program with flight vehicles and integration.

(Item via Andrew Case.)

CSULB update... The CSULB/Garvey team posted a page with pictures and videos of their recent static engine test: Static Fire Test of 500 lbf Thrust-Class LOX/Propylene Engine Conducted on March 6 - CSULB - Mar.29.04

March 21, 2004

CSULB/Garvey update... John Garvey reports on the recent LOX/propylene static fire test at the Mojave Test Area onMarch, 6th with the Cal State Long Beach student team: 500 lbf-Thrust LOX/Propylene Engine Test - Garvey Spacecraft Mar.17.04

The engine would power a two stage vehicle that could put a 10kg payload into orbit: Nanosat Launch Vehicle (NLV) - Garvey Spacecraft

Centennial challenge proposals... I posted in RLV News a set of proposals from Korey Kline (Environmental Aeroscience Corp) for rocketry related competitions as part of NASA's Centennial Challenge program.

March 17, 2004

HV Igniter blog... The HV Igniter Project Web Log reports on the latest developments in this open source rocketry project.

March 12, 2004

Igniter info... Andrew Case has updated the rocket igniter section - ArocketIgniter - at the ArocketTWiki site hosted by Michael Mealling's Rocketforge.

March 10, 2004

SDU Phoenix launch review was sent out by Steve Harrington (Flometrics/San Diego State University) tonight:

The student rocket launched, but lost power shortly after ignition. The problem was rust and scale inside the cooling jacket which quickly clogged the injectors on the fuel side. The heat and pressure must have knocked the rust loose, because it was cleaned beforehand. The engine ran very LOX rich at very low thrust. Luckily it did not fall too far so most of the components, including the engine, are salvageable. When we were doing the failure investigation we also came up with a few additional areas that need improvement:

  • All fittings must be serviceable without removing any rivets. At first glance, it appeared that we lost helium pressure because fittings were leaking. This brought up the issue of access and preflight inspection.

  • We need better telemetry, our low budget system consists of a telescope and some gauges on the rocket. If the lighting is not right (it wasn't) then we can't verify fuel, LOX and helium pressure before launch.

  • The rocket needs to be designed for flight AND display. The students exhibited the rocket at high schools, university events, etc. During these events, they would fill the rocket with 100 psi of compressed air and blow it down. This practice thrilled the spectators, but also may have filled the cooling jacket with condensation which led to the rust. Also, taking the rocket around town in the back of a pickup subjected it to side loads for which it was not designed.

Anyway the students are still excited about the project and are ready to start rebuilding immediately. I told them they have to finish their method of characteristics homework first. We have enough students to rebuild the exisiting rocket and start designing a pumped rocket designed to reach 100 miles using our pump technology. (www.rocketfuelpump.com) The pump can be used to help reduce the weight of launch vehicles and spacecraft and it would be a good option for the Crew Exploration Vehicle that the President proposed.

Some additional links of interest regarding this project:

If you would like to help rebuild the rocket, we need some 1"X 20' square aluminum tubing, some .02 thick alclad sheet and some 1/2" marine plywood. We also need a video camera and some pressure transducers (1x2000 psi and 2x1000psi).

Please contact Nils Sedano (nilssedano@hotmail.com) for information on how to donate to this program.

March 8, 2004

Update: The CSULB/Garvey test last weekend was a static test rather than a launch. In a message (via Andrew Case) posted on the ARocket forum, Dave McCue of CSULB said that they tested a LOX/propene (propylene) engine. The goal was to study "the issues involved in handling and firing propene at ambient temperature, where propene is only a liquid if confined under pressure (about 150 psi)."

The engine was an ablative-lined composite chamber with a pintle injector. Unfortunately, the tip of the pintle melted off about one second into the burn, causing the propene and LOX to mix in a stream instead of a conical spray pattern. The engine continued to run for a total of about 15 seconds, in two 7 to 8 second runs.

Data from the test shows that the engine reached design thrust of 500 lbf and a chamber pressure of about 250 psi before the pintle failed. Thrust and chamber pressure decreased by half with the loss of the tip of the pintle, proving that just about anything will work if you can get it lit!

We did the second engine run about 20 seconds after the first, since there was residual flame in the chamber and more propellant in the tanks. Figuring that the safest way to get rid of the propellants was to burn them in the engine, we opened the valves for the second run. The engine started smoothly and performed as it did for the first run. This was encouraging, because we have heard that propene is prone to hard starts.

He said more details will be posted later at the CSULB website.

SDU launch falls short... A malfunction on the San Diego State/Flometrics rocket yesterday caused its engine to shutdown shortly after takeoff: SDSU Rocket Launch - March 6, 2004. It did not explode upon landing, which should obviously help in finding the cause of the problem. Also, it looks like much of the hardware can be saved.

No word yet on tests at the same site by the Cal State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft team.

March 6, 2004

News brief ... Waiting to hear about todays launch attempts by the rocketry groups at San Diego State University and Cal State at Long Beach. Here's a nice article about the SDU program: Rocketry students at SDSU hope to soar sky-high today - SignOnSanDiego.com - Mar.6.04

February 22, 2004

News brief... Sacramento L5 Society continues work on their H2O2 engine:Update on the Sacramento L5 Hydrogen Peroxide Motor - Feb.04

February 19, 2004

CFD and other aerodynamic software is available from AeroRocket, which "specializes in high speed aerodynamics, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and aerospace technology related software development. Other services include Visual Basic/C++ computer programming, structural analysis and wind tunnel testing using AeroRocket's subsonic wind tunnel."

February 11, 2004

News briefs... The Serra (Supersonic Experimental and Recoverable Rocket Assembly) student rocket project in Florida is showing progress: SERRA Booster/Tank Construction (link via Andrew Case) ...

... The Sacramento L5 Society is studying H2O2 engines: Static Test of Hydrogen Peroxide Kerosene Motor

February 6, 2004

Student rocket launch announcement... Steve Harrington of Flometrics and San Diego State University sent out this message yesterday:

University Student/Small Business Liquid Fueled Rocket Launch

The San Diego State/Flometrics team will be launching a LOX/Kerosene 1000 lb thrust rocket on the weekend of March 6th and 7th at the Reaction Research Society MTA [Mojave Test Area] Near Mojave CA.

We were not able to launch last time due to high winds and the air force needing the airspace. (see www.sdsurocket.org ) The rocket has been epaired and improved and we are going to launch it, weather, the air force, and the FAA permitting.

The Garvey Spacecraft/Cal State Long Beach Team will be launching one of their LOX/Alcohol rockets as well. www.csulb.edu/colleges/coe/ae/rockets/ There will be other launches and tests.

The SDSU rocket project is intended to give the students a good hands on introduction to liquid fueled rockets. I am teaching rocket propulsion (kahuna.sdsu.edu/%7esharring/index.html) this semester and many students in the class will be designing, building and static firing a LOX/Kero rocket which uses our low cost fuel pump (www.rocketfuelpump.com) Flometrics will donate the pump and the students will be responsible for the design and contruction of the rocket. The pump allows for a low cost rocket booster that can achieve a high mass ratio without the expensive turbopumps, low safety margins, perfect welding, exotic materials etc. that drive up the costs of typical boosters.

If you would like to come out to the launch (near Mojave, about 2 hrs from LA, 4 hrs from SD ) let me know and I will send instructions.

If you would like more info about our rocket fuel pump, I will be happy to send you a CD which shows the pump working with an Atlas vernier rocket engine.

Furthermore, if you need any engineering services done, whether flow visualization, CFD, thermal design, acoustics, product design, analysis or testing, please contact me.

Steve Harrington Ph. D.
President, Flometrics, Inc. www.flometrics.com
Lecturer, San Diego State University, Aerospace Engineering

January 30, 2004

Open source hardware....The EagleFlyer Project (link via Andrew Case) is an open source hardware project in which anyone can contribute.

"The Eagleflyer board is a very versatile device used as a controller and data collection device for amateur rocketry or remote controlled vehicles. Among its capabilities are a wide array of sensors and components, easy re-programmability, the ability to send/receive data real time to any PC hooked up with a HAM radio and the ability to be expanded with even more analog or digital sensors."

The project is led by Jamie Morken of the Rocket Research group. More info at the Eagleflyer-chat Info Page.

January 20, 2004

Next Prospector launch....Garvey Spacecraft in the latest update reports:

"The next flight of the Prospector 3 vehicle, with upgraded thrust vector control, is now scheduled to take place in early 2004. This shift will provide more time for system-level evaluation of the closed-loop control algorithms and associated servo actuator operations.

The next launch window at the Mojave Test Area now appears to be in the late February / early March timeframe. Plans are to re-fly the Prospector 3 vehicle for another thrust vector control flight test, potentially in closed-loop mode. This flight will also evaluate new telemetry formats and processes that have been developed during the last six months."

Another adv. rocketry vendor... Checkout Australian Experimental, which offers a "unique set of products devoted to a highly specialized field that is experimental rocket propulsion." See also and their list of experimental rocketry Links & Downloads.

Wallops launch for amateur/student rocket....The JAMSTARS, an amateur rocketry organization in Florida that collaborates with university and high school groups, has received confirmation that they can use the Wallops Island facilities for launch of their supersonic flight experiment SERRA (Supersonic Experimental and Recoverable Rocket Assembly). No date set yet, but presumably it will be late in the year. (This info from Andrew Case.)

Note that the group last year successfully launched the Jamstar - Joint Aerospace and Meterology STratospheric Analysis Rocket. They believe that launch holds the "unofficial record holder for altitude and speed for a student built project."

January 18, 2004

A successful launch of a large hybrid rocket by the SORAC team took place last year. Here is some additional info about it passed along by Andrew Case:

"On September 28th of 2003 the SORAC team, under the leadership of Bill Colburn, flew an 8" diameter, 270 lbm rocket to a height of 40,000 feet, with successful parachute recovery. Maximum speed is estimated at Mach 2. The Nitrous Oxide hybrid motor produced 2000 lbf thrust, burning for 7 seconds."

See also the Hybrids section of the Advanced Rocketry Records site.

January 16, 2004

Rocket books... Via a forum posting I came across this Rocket Science Books Index. that includes books like Performance and Properties of Liquid Propellants and A Safety Manual for Experimental & Amateur Rocket Scientists.

January 8, 2004

H2O2 engines are for sale at Hydrogen Peroxide Rockets at Exotic Thermo Engineering (link via Mark Stacey.) I'm starting a H2O2 list in the advanced rocketry vendors section.

January 4, 2004

More rocket parts sources come via Andrew Case who lists these three sites:

  • Rocketcity Rocketman - Tim Pickens - equipment built and collected by Tim (not all for sale)
  • Aircraft Spruce Aviation Catalog - " less directly rocketry, but they have huge amounts of useful stuff ...They sell stuff for homebuilt aircraft. The online catalog isn't very good, but the paper one is a must have."
  • Boeing Retail Sales - Investment Recovery & Surplus Sales - "It's a real brick and mortar place, so it's only useful to people able to make the trip to Seattle, but everyone I know who's been there swears it's great. Not Rocketry specific, but there's aerospace materials available there for pennies on the dollar, and probably some real finds from time to time."

January 2, 2004

Advanced rocket parts... Joe Latrell of Beyond Earth Enterprises, a HobbySpace sponsor, notes the need for a place to buy parts for advanced rocket projects: Wanted: 'Space Depot' For The Rocket Builders by Joe Latrell - SpaceDaily - Dec.30.03.

In response to this I heard via Bill Bruner, team leader of Rocket Adventures, LLC, about these vendors:

which occasionally carry surplus "1000 lb. thrust LOX/Kerosene LR-101 Atlas vernier engines. They also have a few 1000 lb. thrust Hydrazine/RFNA LR-64s."

See some other vendors of advanced rocketry equipment listed in the Advanced Rocketry section.

Continue to December 2003


Other Advanced Rocketry News Sites:
Amateur Rocketry Society


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey





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