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Launch Report (10 Dec 2004) -- Well, OK, Sort Of...

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Conan

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Have been swamped at work so far this week, so only now getting to post this, but hope you guys enjoy...

On Friday, the Holloman High Speed Test Track re-created the famous Col Stapp sled run as a celebration of the 50th anniversary. This is the one where Col Stapp rode the rocket sled to over 600 miles per hour, then stopped in 1.5 seconds experiencing -40g deceleration.

Proving that being in the right place at the right time is the best planning of all, I'm lucky enough to be one of the unit commanders within the 46th Test Group, and hence good friends with the commander of the 846th Test Squadron (the HHSTT). When they began planning the memorial run, he indicated they'd be letting people include "trinkets" to ride on the run in small boxes. While I did avail myself of this, I also made a "sort-of offhand" comment that I'd like to send my PML Small Endeavour along for the ride. <as background, I had flown this rocket last spring as the "starting gun" for the 846th's Mach 10K Fun Run> He worked with his engineering team ... and ... guess what? They made it happen!

His sled design team developed a mounting system that fixed my rocket on the sled and away we went. I'm still gathering all the pictures and will post them soon, but suffice it to say that the Stapp re-creation was awesome and my rocket made it through like a champ! Only damage: nose cone came loose during the water braking and got some paint damage/scrapes, and I had to hammer the piston back out due to the swelling from the water brake soaking.

WOO HOO!
 

Conan

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I did manage to capture three shots of the sled run with my trusty old Sony D770 (with some minor vignetting due to the tele-converter).

Picture #1 -- Shortly after ignition...
 

Conan

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Photo #2 -- A little later in the run...
 

Conan

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Photo #2 -- probably about 2/3 through the run...note that the motor is pretty much burning out at this point.

Sorry I didn't capture the water braking, but I'll probably be able to get a picture from the guys at the track later this week.
 

Conan

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Here is a photo I took later in the day at the Alamogordo Space Museum of the original Stapp sled from 1954 (Sonic Wind No 1):

You can get more information about Stapp and the run here:

http://www.spacefame.org/stapp.html
 

Conan

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In addition to a certificate stating the rocket was carried on the sled, they also gave me the machined mounting brackets they used to mount the rocket to the sled body.

Which probably means it's time to prepare the rocket for retirement and display as a "historic" item. I've been debating one final flight (which would be the 10th) but now I'll probably be gun-shy about losing it at this point.

I will be building a wall display that includes photos, the certificate, and the rocket mounted with the same brackets that were used to mount the rocket to the sled.

I have pictures at work of the rocket mounted to the sled, which I'll try and remember to bring home and post tomorrow, as well as any more I get from the Track guys. Maybe I'll even get a video/mpeg of the shot, although figuring out how to get that under the 102k attachment size may be too much for my limited computer skills...

Anyway, thought you guys would enjoy the unusual "Launch Report"

Enjoy,
 

brianc

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Originally posted by Conan
Anyway, thought you guys would enjoy the unusual "Launch Report"
Very cool! Propably the fastest your rocket has gone without gaining
any altitude... :)
 

Conan

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Well, I gathered a couple of the pictures. This one is the PML Small Endeavour mounted in the sled before the sled is put on the rail...this view is from the rear of the replica Sonic Wind No 1
 

Conan

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This is a close-up view of the previous aspect...
 

Conan

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This is the post-run picture of the rocket on the sled. The nose cone "deployed" under the negative g's endured during the water braking portion of the sled run and then wedged here. Only superficial damage which I took a picture of later.
 

Conan

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This evening when I got home, I took some pictures in the garage/workshop/mess of the rocket. This shot is of the main body (the nose cone was removed from the tubular nylon shock cord for easier transport while the piston was jammed due to moisture from the water braking).

Note that the mounting brackets are still clamped to the main body (for now).

Oh, and thats a portion of the collection in the background...:)
 

Conan

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The next picture is a close-up of the top mounting bracket. The 846th cut this in their own machine shop (the same one that fabricates the sleds). I appears to be machined aluminum, with a rubber insulator to prevent marring the body tube. As I said, I'll be re-using these brackets for the final "retired" wall display.
 

Conan

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This is a close-up of the damage to the nose cone. I could easily clean it up and repair it, but I may leave it as-is to keep it in end-of-run condition.
 

Conan

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Just for fun, I went wide angle to show "the collection"
 

Conan

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To close for today...

a. The rocket sled used three surplus Nike motors. Woo Hoo!

b. I got three videos of the shot, but each is on the order of 10MB. The e-mail choked on them when I tried to send them home (big surprise). I'll copy them onto a CD at work. Probably won't be able to get them on here due to file size.

c. Still looking to get some good still photos from the 846th. I imagine they are still processing the camera footage.

Hope you enjoyed it so far...
 

cjl

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can you e-mail one to me? If so, i'll PM you with my address (sp?)
 

Rocketmaniac

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Originally posted by Conan
In addition to a certificate stating the rocket was carried on the sled, they also gave me the machined mounting brackets they used to mount the rocket to the sled body.

Which probably means it's time to prepare the rocket for retirement and display as a "historic" item. I've been debating one final flight (which would be the 10th) but now I'll probably be gun-shy about losing it at this point.

I will be building a wall display that includes photos, the certificate, and the rocket mounted with the same brackets that were used to mount the rocket to the sled.

Yea, I would say this rocket should be retired. I would guess that this is the first time that a model rocket has gotten a ride on that rocket sled. Actually I would guess that the rocket sled hasn't beed used too many times. What kind of speed did it get up to?
 
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