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Challenger 498 July 11, 2009 launch

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luke strawwalker

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Well, we had a good launch today despite the heat. The weather was about as
cooperative as it could be for mid-July in southeast Texas, with winds almost
never exceeding ten miles an hour and hovering between two and seven miles an
hour most of the day, and dropping to near zero occassionally. The heat was a
bit unpleasant but not unbearable unless you went on one of those LONG recovery
walks we all sometimes face! We had a VERY good turnout even with the heat and
a good time was apparently had by all, despite a few heartbreakers along the
way. Jesse and Janet brought out their air-conditioned trailer, which my
daughter and youngest nephew seemed to enjoy almost as much as the launch (ok
maybe more). Mikus and Michelle braved the heat with two EZ-ups, one of which I
sorta squatted in to prep stuff and get out of the sun (thanks for lending me
the shade Mikus!) Michelle worked on some sewing projects with some occassional
unsolicited assistance from my daughter Keira (hope she didn't get in your hair
too much!) Gyll and Cece came out and flew some nice rockets, and it was good
to see them again. It was also nice to meet Peter and Colton for the first
time, and see their good flights and nice rockets! Dave Montgomery brought out
a couple masterpieces and had a couple memorable flights and a heartbreaker of
the day. President John Thro arrived a bit late to the party but was welcomed
and had some nice flights.

Mikus kicked things off with a nice flight of his Der Red Max on a C6-5. Peter
and Colton sent up their Big Daddy on an E9-4, and Mikus fired off a Python 4 to
clear the skies with a C6-5. Mikus followed up with his Maxi-Alpha III on a
D12-3 for a nice flight. Peter and Colton followed up with a D-Region Tomahawk
on an E9 for a nice flight. Mikus ratcheted things up with a Super Big Bertha
on an F39. Peter returned with a Sumo on a G64 BlackJack motor. Gyll sent up
his Scratchbuilt G-10 equipped rocket on an F39 that went HIGH and came down a
bit fast, popping a fin. Mike launched his NASA Pegasus on a C6-3 for a nice
flight.

Jesse sent up his LOC Hi-Tech on a G76-6 for a nice flight. Jesse was the
unofficial spot-landing champ of the day-- I don't think a single one of his
flights ended up more than 100 yards or so from the rangehead! Galen launched a
LOC Mini on an F39, and Cece followed up with an Estes Rascal on a C6. Mikus
fired off his Cheetah on a G71, and Gyll sent up his Phobos on a G64 shortly
thereafter. Devlin launched his Defender on an E9 for a nice flight. Jeff
Roberts launched his Discoverer Thor on a Quest B6-4, but suffered a weak
ejection and ended up with noseblow recovery for a hard landing, popping a fin.
Repairs, repairs... Peter sent up his Arreaux on an E, and then flew his
beautiful new Honest John from Madcow Rocketry on an F30-4, for a low and slow
flight that came down a bit hard and cracked a fin. She might be a bit heavy
for that motor!

Jesse fired off his LOC Hi-Tech again on a G53 BlackJack motor that left a thick
cloud of soot in its wake that drifted all the way to the fence, and again
returned fairly close by. Dave Montgomery sent up his Estes Thor-Agena B on a
B6-4 and suffered the same fate as I did on my Discoverer Thor (which is a Thor
Agena B from Dr. Zooch) and ended up with nose-blow recovery and no chute. Not
sure how much damage if any Dave had. Sorry I shared my bad mojo! Mikus sent
off an interesting rocket called an Honest Goon by Excelsior Rocketry on a C6-3
and had a nice flight. Dave Montgomery brought out his IMMACULATE Saturn I SA-5
rocket by Dr. Zooch Rockets, and after the rocket paparazzi were done with pics,
he sent it upstairs on a B6-4 for a nice flight. This time the chute cooperated
(always nice on a superdetailed semiscaler on it's maiden flight) and it landed
three feet from the launch controller table. Other than a few bits of toothpick
detailing (retros, antennas and stuff) popping off or loose, the rocket was
basically undamaged.

Mikus launched an Eliminator on an E9 which is always a nice flyer. Gyll
followed up with his Legacy on a G64. Dave then brought out the crowning
achievement-- his Estes Saturn V with superdetailing, powered by a central D12-3
and four outboard C6-3's. The rocket paparazzi again flooded the pads and
cameras clicked away capturing the amazing detail that Dave put into this bird.
Mikus brought out his commemorative Apollo 11 patches in their display case for
photos with the rocket, and after the pics were taken everyone retired to the
rangehead for the launch. Dave gave the countdown as the cameras all stood at
the ready for the big moment, and precisely on time all five engines lit,
lofting the big rocket off the pad and high into the sky, straight as an arrow.
Soon she decelerated and popped her chutes, and amid the blossoming of four
parachutes it quickly became apparent something was awry. The upper part of the
rocket including the capsule, tower, superdetailed service module, S-IVB stage,
and S-II/S-IVB conical transition tore loose and into freefall. She rapidly
turned nose straight down and picked up speed, tearing toward the earth below
and doom. The upper half impacted about 100 yards east of the pads to a
sickening thud. The lower half of the rocket hung steadily under the three
inflated parachutes and one tangled chute from the upper part, which had ripped
free and entangled itself at the seperation. After a short drift eastward on
the westerly winds, she touched down undamaged about 150 yards from the pads.

Upon inspecting the site, the upper half had ripped free of it's recovery
harness, and with the considerable noseweight added to the SM for enhanced
stability, the transition provided enough cone stability to drop the rocket
straight down onto the tower and capsule. The LES rocket was driven into the
ground and the tower disintegrated, the capsule driven into the demolished
service module and spacecraft adapter. It will fly again vowed Dave but he's
got some work ahead of him rebuilding his Apollo spacecraft and spacecraft
adapter... or maybe he'll just get a nosecone and turn it into a Skylab... LOL:)

After the magnificent but heartbreaking Saturn V flight, Cece got things going
again with her Arrow on a D12. Mikus returned to the pads with the USS
Prometheus on a C6-3. Peter brought out his LoadStar two stager on a C6-0,C6-5
combination for a nice flight, with the dayglo orange first stage landing 20
feet behind the pads and spinning nicely on the way down for a soft landing.
Meanwhile the upperstage had apparently disappeared, and we weren't having any
luck spotting it for awhile. Dave was exiting the field and Mikus stepped over
behind the pads to ensure Dave didn't run over and squash the first stage, when
suddenly we caught sight of the second stage dutifully returning under it's
chute, dropping straight toward Dave's car. Dave eased around past Mikus and
the upper stage landed ten feet behind Dave's bumper for an amazing flight! Way
to go Peter!

Jesse brought out his Mustang on an F39, and Jeff Roberts returned to his Pad
34Z (Z for Zooch) with his Dr. Zooch Mark II (Gemini) rocket. After suffering a
bit of bad mojo with my Discoverer Thor, I wanted a successful flight before I
sent up any of my newer more sophisticated Dr. Zooch builds. I wasn't to get it
on this flight. I again had loaded up a Quest B6-4 and prepped the rocket, and
sent her up. Again I had a weak ejection and she came down in two halves with
the chute still stuck in the tube. She landed a bit hard and slightly crumpled
the 'interstage' of the Mark II at the blowout panels, but a bit of
straightening and she was good to go again. I reloaded again with a July
89-built Estes B6-4 to see if I could shake off the bad mojo, and sent her up
again for a perfect flight. Confident that I had shaken off the bad luck, I
prepped my Dr. Zooch Saturn V for it's Apollo 11 commemorative launch.

Meanwhile, at the pads, Mikus prepped and launched his Initiator on a G76-7.
After taking a bit to light, it leapt off the pad and into the clouds, and
disappeared into the sky for a good bit. We could hear the beeper and soon
caught sight of it, and Mikus ended up going on another LONG walk! After a bit
of prep work and photography, I took the golf cart down to the sorghum field to
retrieve the Initiator (and Mikus). Colton sent up his Outlaw on a B6-4, and
Jeff returned to the pads with his Dr. Zooch Saturn V, on a new Estes C6-3.
After a bit of photography, she leapt into the sky on a nice slightly arched
flight, arced over apogee, and happily spilled her chute into the breeze for a
nice spotless recovery 120 yards east of the pads. At least the ants made it to
the moon this time! (grins)

John Thro sent up his Scratchbuilt no-name rocket powered by four C6-5's for a
beautiful flight, but ended up taking a nearly half-mile hike to retrieve it
from the middle of now defunct sorghum field across the fence. It was a nice
flight though! Jeff returned to the pads as things were wrapping up with his
Dr. Zooch Space Shuttle and sent it up on a C6-3 for a pretty nice flight-- the
wind got a bit gusty right about the time she lifted off, and she deployed her
shuttle perfectly, which settled into a steep tight-circling glide, but it was
hit by a gust and toppled a bit, tumbled, straightened up, glided a bit more,
and then got hit by another gust and started tumbling, rolling out and making a
not too graceful but undamaged landing. The ET/SRB core stage recovered nicely
under it's trash bag chute about 100 yards further out (150 yards from the pad).

With that, everyone seemed more than ready to pack it in, and so we called it a
day. It was a good launch, and we can HOPE (but probably not hold our
breath) for cooler weather next month. Oh well, there's always September... :)

Jeff Roberts aka OL JR :)
 

JRThro

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Great launch report, Jeff!

Jesse and Janet brought out their air-conditioned trailer, which my daughter and youngest nephew seemed to enjoy almost as much as the launch (ok maybe more). Mikus and Michelle braved the heat with two EZ-ups, one of which I sorta squatted in to prep stuff and get out of the sun (thanks for lending me the shade Mikus!) Michelle worked on some sewing projects with some occassional unsolicited assistance from my daughter Keira (hope she didn't get in your hair too much!)
Was that a foot-treadle-powered sewing machine Michelle was using? I got a glance at it when I first arrived but then got distracted by the rockets and Jesse's trailer!

President John Thro arrived a bit late to the party but was welcomed and had some nice flights.
Actually, I had just *one* nice flight and then one of those LONG recovery walks you mentioned (although I probably walked twice as far as I needed to, since I didn't realize my scratchbuilt 4-motor cluster rocket had come down in the defunct sorghum field much closer than I thought), and once I finally got back to the launch area, I was BEAT! (and probably RED, too.) It looked like 3 of the 4 motors lit pretty quickly but the 4th took a little longer, which seems strange for BP motors.

Dave then brought out the crowning achievement-- his Estes Saturn V with superdetailing, powered by a central D12-3 and four outboard C6-3's. The rocket paparazzi again flooded the pads and cameras clicked away capturing the amazing detail that Dave put into this bird. Mikus brought out his commemorative Apollo 11 patches in their display case for photos with the rocket, and after the pics were taken everyone retired to the rangehead for the launch. Dave gave the countdown as the cameras all stood at the ready for the big moment, and precisely on time all five engines lit, lofting the big rocket off the pad and high into the sky, straight as an arrow. Soon she decelerated and popped her chutes, and amid the blossoming of four parachutes it quickly became apparent something was awry. The upper part of the rocket including the capsule, tower, superdetailed service module, S-IVB stage, and S-II/S-IVB conical transition tore loose and into freefall. She rapidly turned nose straight down and picked up speed, tearing toward the earth below and doom. The upper half impacted about 100 yards east of the pads to a sickening thud. The lower half of the rocket hung steadily under the three inflated parachutes and one tangled chute from the upper part, which had ripped free and entangled itself at the seperation. After a short drift eastward on the westerly winds, she touched down undamaged about 150 yards from the pads.
That was a heartbreaking sight, but Dave didn't seem too upset by the damage. He took it a lot better than I would have. I'm glad I got there in time to take some pictures of his great-looking Saturn V before the launch.

John Thro sent up his Scratchbuilt no-name rocket powered by four C6-5's for a beautiful flight, but ended up taking a nearly half-mile hike to retrieve it from the middle of now defunct sorghum field across the fence. It was a nice flight though!
If only I had seen where it landed instead of walking *well* past it before crossing over into the sorghum field!:eek::mad: (not really mad, just really red!)

Jeff returned to the pads as things were wrapping up with his Dr. Zooch Space Shuttle and sent it up on a C6-3 for a pretty nice flight-- the wind got a bit gusty right about the time she lifted off, and she deployed her shuttle perfectly, which settled into a steep tight-circling glide, but it was hit by a gust and toppled a bit, tumbled, straightened up, glided a bit more, and then got hit by another gust and started tumbling, rolling out and making a not too graceful but undamaged landing. The ET/SRB core stage recovered nicely under it's trash bag chute about 100 yards further out (150 yards from the pad).
Sure wish I had seen that one, Jeff. Maybe next month!
 

Mikus

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Was that a foot-treadle-powered sewing machine Michelle was using? I got a glance at it when I first arrived but then got distracted by the rockets and Jesse's trailer!
Nope, it was a hand-crank Singer sewing machine made back in the 1920's. She wanted one to work on some quilting projects while watching me fly rockets (I tell people she's making parachutes - lol!) so we went on ebay and found one for her.

It was incredibly inexpensive when you consider it's old enough to be something my grandmother used back in her day, it's completely intact (artwork, locking case and even an old owners manual) and we had it shipped from Scotland.

And... spending $$$ on her hobbies means I get to spend some more $$$ on mine. ;)
 

luke strawwalker

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Nope, it was a hand-crank Singer sewing machine made back in the 1920's. She wanted one to work on some quilting projects while watching me fly rockets (I tell people she's making parachutes - lol!) so we went on ebay and found one for her.

It was incredibly inexpensive when you consider it's old enough to be something my grandmother used back in her day, it's completely intact (artwork, locking case and even an old owners manual) and we had it shipped from Scotland.

And... spending $$$ on her hobbies means I get to spend some more $$$ on mine. ;)
Ya know you really have a keeper there Mikus... Not many women would sit in a cow pasture under a tent in 100 degree heat to do their quilting... not without you being reminded of it for the next thousand years!!!

Besides, she's sweet and easy on the eyes... :D

Later! OL JR :)
 
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