Black Powder Speed Record

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

Bruce

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
232
Reaction score
36
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
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Messages
904
Reaction score
552
Location
Pahrump, Nevada
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
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
542
Reaction score
197
Location
My Old Kentucky Home
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
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
232
Reaction score
36
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
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
265
Reaction score
155
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
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
4,399
Reaction score
1,286
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.

TrlBlzr1.JPG



TrlBlzr2.JPG
 

shockie

High Plains Drifter
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
542
Reaction score
197
Location
My Old Kentucky Home
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.


Enjoy. And your welcome.


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:
Parsons1.jpg
 
Last edited:

SharkWhisperer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
265
Reaction score
155
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.


Enjoy. And your welcome.
An issue of Popular Mechanics used to be hundreds of pages long....wow. Nice blast from the past--the advertisements are amazing, as are the predictions of the Roads of the Future, etc., from back in 1940. Interesting stuff... And referenceable/verifiable.
 

Bruce

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
232
Reaction score
36
Perhaps the "velocities of 4,875 miles per hour" being referred to were the exhaust velocities of the rocket motors themselves and not the actual speed of the rocket?

High Velocity Rocket.jpg
 
Top