D. Zooch Lifting Body

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
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Soon after the Christmas holiday I received a box in the mail from Dr. Zooch. I had all but forgotten our conversation about beta testing his upcoming Lifting Body Shuttle kit, but alas, here it was. At first, I thought it might be a kit from my Secret Santa but upon further inspection I realized exactly what it was.

Dr. Zooch has worked tirelessly for quite a while(as long as I've known him) on perfecting his Lifting Body design. In fact, to hear him tell it, this has been in the works since childhood. I've witnessed more lack luster glides than successes during the last couple years of the development process, but Zooch assured me he knew what he was doing. Testing for this or that, then back to the drawing board he'd go. At some of the more recent MDRA launches it seemed as though he had nailed down the perfect shape for this oddball looking spacecraft. It was looking like this LB idea would indeed work. We know the LB concept works but sometimes theory wins out over substantiality. Not this time. The thing actually glides! It's not going to catch a thermal and fly over the nearest tree line or anything, but it's fun to watch it defy gravity.:eek:

The LB Booster is reminiscent of the real space shuttle booster with a central ET flanked by two SRB's. It is a longer, slimmer, profile the than previous shuttle kit, which translates to less weight and better performance. A B6-4 will turn in some real nice flights.

I believe he's begun shipping kits as of today, maybe he'll confirm?

*note* the NASA and American flag stickers on the LB shuttle do not convey as part of the kit. I downloaded and resized the images and printed on a regular 2x4 inch shipping label. Trimmed them down to size and stuck 'em on. I didn't feeling like messing with waterslides this time (neither did Zooch). If anyone wants the print file feel free to PM me.




LB pad.jpg
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Today marked the second test flight of my beta kit. Both flights were a success. Zooch has offset the weight in the nose to promote a "programmed roll" once it clears the pad by about 50-100 ft. If anyone has seen the real shuttle launch(duh, who hasn't?), you know the stack kind of makes one long, slow roll onto it's back. Well, this does the same thing. Pretty cool.

The glider worked flawlessly both times.

LB liftoff.jpg

LB boost.jpg

LB ejection.jpg

LB booster and glide.jpg

LB booster and glide2.jpg
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very cool! I saw some of the thread on RP that zooch was doing but never got to see the picks cause I didn't sign up over there. It looks really good. I love the ejection photo very nice!
This is just too cool! :cool:

I still say that is EXACTLY what I saw out in the desert when THEY came!

Why won't anyone believe me?? :eek::D

Have you flown her on a C yet??

Looking forward to this one! OL JR :)

I haven't tried a C yet. It gets some pretty good altitude on a B...more than I expected it to. I'll wait until a dead calm day or wait until the next MDRA launch before I try it. The main objectives the first couple flights was to see how the stack performed, see if the glider worked and did so consistently, and to snag some good photos(photos are easier to get on a 'B'). That would be a "check" on all three. :)

Launch command to Lifting Body Shuttle: "You are go for throttle up.":D
Great shots Foose!

These will be going out the door to the general public starting early next week. Right now I'm working on feeding retailers who suddenly got hungry. Uncle Mike is clawing at the door.

And yes! I've finally been given the OK to post here again- they've made sure Me is Me....now if I could just figure out how to do my avatar...:cool:
Wow, that looks great! I suppose I'll have to add this to the list too.:rolleyes:
Man I wish it was warm enough here to paint. I did some tests this afternoon in the garage (50 degrees) and it didn't turn out so I still have to wait to finish mine...

BTW - was there something wrong with the chute that was included? ;)
Chute... what chute?

Ha ha very funny... hey you beta builders know the story... I cannot repeat it here, however:rolleyes:
Wow, great shots Foose. Very cool looking model, I'll have to build one of those.
Man I wish it was warm enough here to paint. I did some tests this afternoon in the garage (50 degrees) and it didn't turn out so I still have to wait to finish mine...

BTW - was there something wrong with the chute that was included? ;)

Nothing wrong with the included chute at all. Perfectly good chute. I was just too lazy to put it together. I have like, a bazilion other chutes already tied and ready to go. ;)

Thanks to those who have commented on the photos. The equipment is far better than the person behind it, I just get lucky occasionally.
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Awesome looking photos and rocket foose. Very well done :)
the glider looks great - looks abit like the x33. was the glider intended to look like an existing NASA lifting body?
You can paint it any way you like- there are no painting instructions.

I'd show you a picture, but the TRF very low limit on size is really screwing with the images from my photo software... frankly- I don't have the time to work at it today- back to making kits.

FYI- if you go to rocketryplanet.com, where they have a 1,000 kb size for photos, rather than 19.5 kb, you can see the shots of the LB without paint on it.
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That is too freaking cool. Congrats Dr. Z.

Nice work Craig!
For those of you who followed this on the old TRF, you've already read this post- but since we're starting new here, for the most part, I figured I'd re-post my history of the SDW Lifting Body... besides this is an intresting subject... at least to me. Recently- well, okay, over the past 3 years I've been flying and testing lifting body models of my own original design at the monthly MDRA launches. All were boosted on 18mm engines.

Here's the long story of my lifting body design...

It's actually a design that I started working on back in 1973. I refined it in 1975 and my first balsa sticks and tissue paper version, called the Stuller lifting body… a name derived from that of a cute brunette I was chasing at the time (who could not have cared less about me by the way) flew that year. It took a long time to get the angles right and get it to fly. Keep in mind that I knew little about aerodynamics at the time- and almost nothing about how lifting bodies worked. I had seen a photo of an M2-F2 and perhaps read a paragraph about it, but that was pretty much all. (The Freeland Michigan high school library was not exactly a rich source of aerospace material.) What I reasoned was that a lifting body would slide along through the air rather than drop through it… hey… for kid like me, that was pretty abstract. Once I made the design sail, I scaled down the tissue paper version and piggy-backed it on a rocket similar to my Titan IIIC kit of today. When I launched it, however, the tissue paper blew out and the stick frame came tumbling back. That same year I submitted the design of the booster, the lifting body and the pad with service tower and... believe it or not... a mobile swinging service structure very much like that built for the actual shuttle by NASA, as a part of a take-home project for my 11th grade drafting class. That was about 4 years before work began on the Space Shuttle service structures- so I’d never seen the swinging service structure! It was just one of those strange coincidences- heck I just thought it was a cool idea. Anyhow, my drafting teacher came up and asked me to tell him about the design, so I did. He asked, pointing at the lifting body, "...and what's this?" I told him it was a wingless glider. He just quietly walked away. I got the project back and it was a “B-“ with the notation "I thought you'd know that gliders can't fly without wings." and a red arrow pointing toward the lifting body. Hey... at least he didn't write "You'll shoot your eye out!"

In the spring of 1977 I started work on the lifting body again- this time I made it out of sheet balsa. Only problem was that no matter how I ballasted it- it wanted to fly upside down! The solution... flip it over and put the fins on the other side and call the bottom the top! I renamed it the CRV for (Crumman Research Vehicle- CRV… another title stolen by NASA years later *doh*!) I painted it red and black to resemble the XRV from “Marooned.” The first one was launched on its designed booster, but the booster was mis-ballasted and it cartwheeled. The lifting body flung clear, but the booster was wrecked. The next one was an up-scaled version and, believe it or not, was launched aboard an Estes 1284 Space Shuttle booster. That one left the rod, pitched over a bit more than 90 degrees and plowed full speed into a plowed field. I salvaged a single SRB nosecone- everything else was trashed. Then on August 15, 1977 my stock Estes Orbital Transport booster successfully lofted the smaller version of the lifting body. In my notes it says that the lifting body glided just as good as the OT’s stock glider- and that says a lot! That was the last rocket I flew 25 years, because just a few days after the flight I packed up and moved away to college to learn how to pilot the real stuff and gave up model rockets.

Following my years spent strapped into the nose of assorted flying machines, I found myself in the model rocket business and have been trying to bring back some of my projects from my weird youth to aid me in being a weird adult. One of the things I want to develop most into a kit is the CRV lifting body, which BTW is the star in my cartoon strip “The Program” found at klydemorris.com. What I'd been struggling with was finding the right booster to do it justice and be a good build in a kit. In August 07 at the MDRA launch I did some flights using all different sizes of the Crumman lifting body doing all sorts of stuff just to celebrate the anniversary of that first flight back in 1977.

A few years ago, a pal of mine who works at NASA Dryden took one of my lifting bodies in and showed it to the now late Dale Reed, the father of lifting bodies. He thought it was terrific and said it was also a pretty interesting hypersonic shape. Not bad for something designed by a teenager 3 decades ago.
It's January dude... the season for buyin' and most of all buildin':cool:
I have not posted in a while because i've been busy with music. That looks like one sweet kit. How do you trim the glider?:cool:
I have not posted in a while because i've been busy with music. That looks like one sweet kit. How do you trim the glider?:cool:

Like you would with most gliders...you adjust the CG. The kit includes some BB's for nose ballast. Use the amount noted in the instructions. After a little FNF and a modest paint job, the trim was perfect. If you are minimalist when it comes to finishing you may want to go one less on the BB's. Slingshot testing with the provided rubber band indicated that mine might possibly be a little nose heavy. This was while it was still in primer stage, although I think it might have worked out ok, regardless. With the final top coats of paint it's just right.
Foose is right. The reasoning behind the BBs is that I needed some way for individual builders to trim the lifting body. Because lifting bodies fly due to their shape alone, you have to keep the airflow very clean around them- this eliminated the trim-screw method used on the shuttle orbiters. So the next best method was nose weight to alter the CG. The problem there was that you cannot use clay- because the LBs require way more nose weight than do the shuttles. On most of my test LBs I used lead, but today the general public has been brainwashed to think of lead in terms of something so highly toxic that you don't even want it near you- so I can't put a piece of lead into the kit and tell people to cut pieces off and use that. I needed something that was still commonly thought of as harmless to handle and that could be applied in very small (.01 oz.) increments by the builder and would be easy to handle and store here at the Dr. Zooch Factory. The answer came out of the past… On my first LBs, back in the 70s, I had used common BBs as ballast- their use in this kit solved all of the problems.
- they've made sure Me is Me....

Did they put you on an exam table----bright lights----a probe-----

Wait, don't answer that

It's great to see someone kitting an interesting new design like your lifting body. Just as a side questn, have you done any experimenting with wider spans (working toward better L/D ratios)? Or, since you seem to have had minor problems with 'right side up' flight characteristics (from your description of development experiences), did you try a short 'keel' fin with ballast?
Just as a side questn, have you done any experimenting with wider spans (working toward better L/D ratios)? Or, since you seem to have had minor problems with 'right side up' flight characteristics (from your description of development experiences), did you try a short 'keel' fin with ballast?

Yes- in fact I did extensive testing in that area. For example I had a fly-off of short wide vs tall narrow. The odd thing was that after doing all sorts of sizes and shapes, the one I finally settled on turned out to be almost the exact same proportional size and shape as the original 1977 shape! Meaning that I just happened to hit it right by chance back in 77. What can I say- it was good year for me:cool: