# Black Powder Speed Record

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### Bruce

##### Well-Known Member
Just ran across this today, about Jack Parsons, one of the early American rocket engineers,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(rocket_engineer)

"At von Kármán's suggestion, Frank Malina approached the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Army Air Corps Research to request funding for research into what they referred to as "jet propulsion", a term chosen to avoid the stigma attached to rocketry. The military were interested in jet propulsion as a means of getting aircraft quickly airborne where there was insufficient room for a full-length runway, and gave the Rocket Research Group $1,000 to put together a proposal on the feasibility of Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) by June 1939, making Parsons et al. the first U.S. government-sanctioned rocket research group. Since their formation in 1934, they had also performed experiments involving model, black powder motor-propelled multistage rockets. In a research paper submitted to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Parsons reported these rockets reaching velocities of 4,875 miles per hour" That's over mach 6! And on black powder no less! How do you think they did it? #### teepot ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I've seen YouTube videos of people in Thailand launching telephone pole sized rockets with homemade black powder to what looks like several thousand feet. So my guess would be really big motors. #### shockie ##### High Plains Drifter Just ran across this today, about Jack Parsons, one of the early American rocket engineers, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(rocket_engineer) "At von Kármán's suggestion, Frank Malina approached the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Army Air Corps Research to request funding for research into what they referred to as "jet propulsion", a term chosen to avoid the stigma attached to rocketry. The military were interested in jet propulsion as a means of getting aircraft quickly airborne where there was insufficient room for a full-length runway, and gave the Rocket Research Group$1,000 to put together a proposal on the feasibility of Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) by June 1939, making Parsons et al. the first U.S. government-sanctioned rocket research group. Since their formation in 1934, they had also performed experiments involving model, black powder motor-propelled multistage rockets. In a research paper submitted to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Parsons reported these rockets reaching velocities of 4,875 miles per hour"

That's over mach 6! And on black powder no less!

How do you think they did it?
Parsons must have been performing magik on that flight..

Last edited:

#### Bruce

##### Well-Known Member
Jack Parsons sounded like an unconventional chap to say the least. Von Kármán described him as a "delightful screwball".

But he did invent castable solid rocket fuel which "changed the future of rocket technology." "Parsons experienced an epiphany after watching workers using molten asphalt to fix tiles onto a roof. "

I don't think he would intentionally lie about how fast his black powder rockets went.

But is it even possible to fly a rocket to mach 6 on black powder?

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
Just ran across this today, about Jack Parsons, one of the early American rocket engineers, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(rocket_engineer)
"In a research paper submitted to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Parsons reported these rockets reaching velocities of 4,875 miles per hour"

That's over mach 6! And on black powder no less! How do you think they did it?
They didn't. That's the problem with quoting Wikipedia articles without bothering to verify the references, and there are none directing you to the supposed "research paper" you copied above. Over 7000+ fps rocket propulsion with a BP motor? Can you provide a verifiable example of any BP-propelled projectile that hits that speed? You'd have extreme difficulty getting nearly one/third that velocity out of a BP firearm or naval cannon. But as a rocket "fuel/propellant"? Would love to read some accurate references citing anything close to that value. Perhaps in some alternate universe with different physics laws. It's really important to check the references, especially in an internet world where b.s. info travels as wide and quickly as accurate info (and almost as fast as Parsons' mythical hypersonic BP rocket

Last edited:

#### Ez2cDave

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
They didn't. That's the problem with quoting Wikipedia articles without bothering to verify the references, and there are none directing you to the supposed "research paper" you copied above. Over 7000+ fps rocket propulsion with a BP motor? Can you provide a verifiable example of any BP-propelled projectile that hits that speed? You'd have extreme difficulty getting nearly one/third that velocity out of a BP firearm or naval cannon. But as a rocket "fuel/propellant"? Would love to read some accurate references citing anything close to that value. Perhaps in some alternate universe with different physics laws. It's really important to check the references, especially in an internet world where b.s. info travels as wide and quickly as accurate info (and almost as fast as Parsons' mythical hypersonic BP rocket
Hmm ... Perhaps as a final Upper Stage, fired downwards, near the end of a Flight Trajectory similar to a "TRAILBLAZER 1" ?

Dave F.

#### shockie

##### High Plains Drifter
Jack Parsons sounded like an unconventional chap to say the least. Von Kármán described him as a "delightful screwball".

But he did invent castable solid rocket fuel which "changed the future of rocket technology." "Parsons experienced an epiphany after watching workers using molten asphalt to fix tiles onto a roof. "

I don't think he would intentionally lie about how fast his black powder rockets went.

But is it even possible to fly a rocket to mach 6 on black powder?
The answer is a resounding NO.

Here's a Popular mechanics article about their BP/Smokeless powder experiments...Notice the rocket is made from metal with no parachute. It comes in ballistic and is reused. ...the rocket and the rocket motor is one and the same.....He never got 4K+ MPH on this . He also worked on a pulsed BP motor. Every few seconds a chunk of BP would be placed in the combustion chamber and ignited producing thrust.

I've researched Jack Parsons for close to 20 years and never heard of that 4K claim till last night in that Wikipedia article.

EDIT:

I researched Footnote 66 in my 2 Parson's books and I can't find any reference to this quote:

Since their formation in 1934, they had also performed experiments involving model, black powder motor-propelled multistage rockets. In a research paper submitted to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Parsons reported these rockets reaching velocities of 4,875 miles per hour, thereby demonstrating the potential of solid fuels to be more effective than the liquid types primarily preferred by researchers such as Goddard. In light of this progress, Caltech and the GALCIT Group received an additional $10,000 rocketry research grant from the AIAA.[66] I think Footnote 66 only applies to this line: In light of this progress, Caltech and the GALCIT Group received an additional$10,000 rocketry research grant from the AIAA.[66]

The stuff above it is just made up.

The only AIAA document I can find at this time is this:

Last edited:

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
The answer is a resounding NO.

Here's a Popular mechanics article about their BP/Smokeless powder experiments...Notice the rocket is made from metal with no parachute. It comes in ballistic and is reused. ...the rocket and the rocket motor is one and the same.....He never got 4K+ MPH on this . He also worked on a pulsed BP motor. Every few seconds a chunk of BP would be placed in the combustion chamber and ignited producing thrust.

I've researched Jack Parsons for close to 20 years and never heard of that 4K claim till last night in that Wikipedia article.