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4X Upscale PML 'Little Lunar Express'

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smashburn

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I'm looking at the Little Lunar Express as my next Upscale Project and could use some accurate dimensions. I used to have one but it was lost at some point. I'm looking at about 10' so I'm guessing 16" diameter at the midpoint. I need the dia & length of the mid section, the nose, the boattail, and details of the two different fins, and those deals on the end of the fins. I can fake it from the pics but would prefer the real deal.
If anyone has one of these and can help out I'd really appreciate it.

Steve Mashburn
Tacoma WA

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aerostadt

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I think PML made a larger 6" diameter Lunar Express at one time, but I don't see it offered on their website anymore. I think it may have been discontinued. Jack Hagerty has a drawing for Spaceship Luna on page 214 of his book, "Spaceship Handbook". Also, he lists a scratch-built model in the Mar/Apr 1998 copy of Sport Rocketry magazine.
 

mikec

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There are Rocksim files for the Little Lunar Express and Lunar Express on the PML web site. Since it has pods, OpenRocket won't be able to do a great job with these.
 

aerostadt

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A younger me with the Lunar Express Jr. I had a terrible time flying this model. Through-wall-fin tabs were not very deep and there was not much room for a big parachute. A fin would break on every flight.
 

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smashburn

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A younger me with the Lunar Express Jr. I had a terrible time flying this model. Through-wall-fin tabs were not very deep and there was not much room for a big parachute. A fin would break on every flight.
Had the same problem with mine, broke something every time I flew it. Gave up after a few. Will make an awesome upscale, especially with some sweet vinyl graphics. I will look at deployment as I did with the DragonShip. Stowed the chutes in the cockpit and popped the top at apogee (low flight). Then had eyebolts fore and aft so it came down in a horizontal position .. total Buck Rogers .. the crowd went nuts ..
Steve Mashburn launch at the Freedom Launch 2007-7522.JPG
 

neil_w

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Wow, a 10' Litt--- Giant Lunar Express would be something to behold. Please document the build if you are able!
 

smashburn

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Got the Dimensions - Initial Design Set
thanks to aerostadt & mikec

4X Upscale 'Little Lunar Express'

-It will be 16" diameter at the midpoint, 136" tall.
-The middle straight section will be 16" sona tube, 24" long.
-The front section is 66" long and will consist of 2" rings of styrofoam, starting at 16" and going to the tip, wrapped around an 8" sona tube running the length of the entire rocket. The foam will be shaped and smoothed and wrapped in fiberglass.
-The tail section will be 48", again 2" styrofoam rings around an 8" sona tube, shaped and smoothed and wrapped in fiberglass.
-The tail end will be 8" diameter and house a 75 or 98mm motor tube, and probably 4 - 54mm motor mounts for 'effect' burns (white Smoky, Sparky, etc)
-The fins are large, but similar to the ones on my DragonShip, so I'll start with 1/2" plywood and adjust is it gets too heavy. I want it low and slow like the DragonShip, this is theater. The wingspan on the big fins will be about 60".
I hope to have the chute(s) deploy out of the cockpit with eyebolts fore and aft, like I did with the DragonShip, so it descends in a horizontal position. Worked great on the DragonShip.

I probably won't get started on this for a bit as I've a lot going on, and there's nowhere to fly anyway. Hope to get it done before Winter though.

Also, anyone in the PNW, I'm in Tacoma WA, that wants to be a part of this project just get in touch. Skill or Cert Level not important, just willingness to work. I've had a couple of great Group Projects in the past, the Delta II in 2004 and the Proton M in 2012 both at NCR in Colorado, and both were amazing. A lot of fun and great accomplishments. Also did the ill fated Titan IV in 2005 and the hugely successful DragonShip 7 in 2007, both in Orangeburg SC.

Thanks,
Steve Mashburn
stephen@tahomarocketworks.com

image0016.JPG48_ExtremeRocketry.jpgSteve Mashburn launch at the Freedom Launch 2007-3518.JPGIMG_1315.JPG
 

troj

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The fins are large, but similar to the ones on my DragonShip, so I'll start with 1/2" plywood and adjust is it gets too heavy.
What we've done is used two layers of 1/4" floor underlayment (shop around for decent stuff; one of three home improvement stores in our area carries nicer stuff than the other two) with a layer of fiberglass in the middle. It helps stiffen it a bit without a bunch of extra weight.
 

smashburn

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What we've done is used two layers of 1/4" floor underlayment (shop around for decent stuff; one of three home improvement stores in our area carries nicer stuff than the other two) with a layer of fiberglass in the middle. It helps stiffen it a bit without a bunch of extra weight.
Thanks Kevin .. I'm going to look more at weight issues after the Proton flight. We built that ultra strong, but super heavy as well. It launched on 3 of James Russell's M's .. which were awesome!! ..but I'm not sure that was enough. I don't remember our final weight but it was a lot. This project is a lot simpler and won't need all that sub-frame structure. Really shooting to keep it under 100 lbs, but we'll see once I get started.
For now I have my L1/L2 rocket almost done, a LOC Yank 4" Iris, so once we start launching I get my Certs back. Have a great idea for a scratch build for my L3 as well. Maybe I'll finally get out to one of your launches these days, though I'm a lot farther away now .. it's always something :)
 

Wally Ferrer

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Had the same problem with mine, broke something every time I flew it. Gave up after a few. Will make an awesome upscale, especially with some sweet vinyl graphics. I will look at deployment as I did with the DragonShip. Stowed the chutes in the cockpit and popped the top at apogee (low flight). Then had eyebolts fore and aft so it came down in a horizontal position .. total Buck Rogers .. the crowd went nuts ..
View attachment 419726
I haven't flown mine yet, but I am definitely up-sizing the chute based on these and other comments I'v received...

IMG_7555.JPG
 

aerostadt

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I haven't flown mine yet, but I am definitely up-sizing the chute based on these and other comments I'v received...
That is gorgeous, Wally! You did an excellent job on removing the seams with an excellent chrome finish. I ended up having much larger fillets on the fins, but I fly out here in the West where the ground is hard and there is no turf. If you are back east with thick grassy turf, you fins may hold up better on landing.
 
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Wally Ferrer

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That is gorgeous, Wally! You did an excellent job on removing fins with an excellent chrome finish. I ended up having much larger fillets on the fins, but I fly out here in the West where the ground is hard and there is no turf. If you are back east with thick grassy turf, you fins may hold up better on landing.
Thanks- I'll likely get the decals on it in the next couple of days. My fingers will be crossed when I do get to fly it. 🤞
 

smashburn

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Really nice Wally, super clean build. A bigger chute would be great but they give you so little room for it. A grassy landing would sure help too.
I used to live in Manassas. In fact a hobby shop there is where I saw my first HP rocket and was hooked! that was probably in 1999/2000 I believe. Used to drive all the way to the MDRA launches and the ones in Culpepper. Some great memories there!
 

Wally Ferrer

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Really nice Wally, super clean build. A bigger chute would be great but they give you so little room for it. A grassy landing would sure help too.
I used to live in Manassas. In fact a hobby shop there is where I saw my first HP rocket and was hooked! that was probably in 1999/2000 I believe. Used to drive all the way to the MDRA launches and the ones in Culpepper. Some great memories there!
I picked up a 60" ultra-light high-performance parachute from Rocketman for that reason. It really drops in with room to spare, including the JLCR and nomex. I will certainly be using that chute in a few other rockets I have that are tight on space...
 

manixFan

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Something to consider is to bring the nose cone down separately from the body. The nose cone has a lot of weight but also doesn't have any easily damaged parts (other than the finish) so it can come down fairly fast. That way you don't need such a large chute for the body. I use a JLCR so I can bring it down very slow at the end without a long walk. Using a high CD chute really helps with the packing volume.


Tony
 

smashburn

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I like the Chrome look, my original one was that color. On the Upscale I'm thinking of going white like the pic I found on John Coker's site. It has that cool SpaceLiner look and the red striping really sets it off.

lunarexpressspace.jpg
 

Wally Ferrer

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Honestly I read that somewhere a long time ago that it helps the metallic paints look more shiny, and I have just done it ever since. I always get compliments on my silver and gold rockets, and also get asked how do I get them to be so shiny. I can't say if there is any science behind it, but it seems some folks struggle to get a good metallic finish. If anyone has any more insight into it I would love to hear it too.
 

jd2cylman

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A younger me with the Lunar Express Jr. I had a terrible time flying this model. Through-wall-fin tabs were not very deep and there was not much room for a big parachute. A fin would break on every flight.
Those were the exact same problems I had with mine. Plus the pods would break off the edges of the fins with mine. Flew it twice and parked it...
 

Wally Ferrer

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I still haven't flown it, here are a couple with decals- plus I tried to pick it up too soon, and now have my thumbprint locked in. I thought about sanding down and starting over, but didn't want to go to the trouble. Looks fine from a safe launch distance... 😜

IMG_9629.jpg
IMG_9636.jpg
IMG_9638.jpg
 

manixFan

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I've been there, done that with the thumbprint on metal paints. I think it looks great as is and would just leave it alone. My wife has a great saying for these kinds of events - "it's either perfect or done!"


Tony
 
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SkyFire

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Funkworks

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Honestly I read that somewhere a long time ago that it helps the metallic paints look more shiny, and I have just done it ever since. I always get compliments on my silver and gold rockets, and also get asked how do I get them to be so shiny. I can't say if there is any science behind it, but it seems some folks struggle to get a good metallic finish. If anyone has any more insight into it I would love to hear it too.
Shine and flatness (low roughness) go together.

A shiny surface (gloss black) is flatter than a matte surface. So applying a metallic paint over the flat and shiny gloss black will make the end result also flatter and glossier than over alternatives. 🤓

i suspect a gloss white or gray undercoat would also work, but if black does it why change.
 
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