# October Sky Movie

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### Neil

##### Well-Known Member
I was just watching (yea, JUST WATCHING. I know its midnight, but I cant sleep very well these days... I ate something funny and it must have had dairy products in it, and my stomache isnt settled... Im lactose intolerant, so that makes for... Well... You get the idea. ) October Sky for like the billionth time, and I was pausing right in the middle of the big sequence of CATOs, and some of them it was quite obvious how they shot the failure, others not quite so... So I think this might be an interesting discussion topic...

First off... This has nothing to do with the CATO sequence, but it comes earlier in the movie, so I might as well have it first:

#### qMaxx

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by Neil
Havent seen Star Trek generations for a while... Ill have to watch it again and look for the rocket! What part of the movie is it in?
Towards the end. It's the rocket Dr. Soren (Malcolm McDowell) launches to destroy the sun of some planet so he can get to this other dimension and be with his wife again. It's the same movie that the Enterprise-D crash lands in.

That kit was pretty expensive, wasnt it? Somethin like \$200... Would the De Laval nozzel actually work if you shoved a ton of rocket candy up the hole in the back? (j/k...)
Dunno, but I think even phenolic wouldn't be able to stand up to the heat and pressure.

#### Rocketjunkie

Miss Riley flew on a K250 and FX was used to extend the burn beyond the actual 10 seconds. The Star Trek rocket used a K1050. This motor is still available from Aerotech (when they make SU motors again).

#### marvSRG

##### Well-Known Member
According to the book, the first rocket had fins that were put on with electrical tape and made from cardboard, if I remember correctly.

A lot of changes (from the rockets to the characters to the storyline) were made to the real story to make it fit into a normal movie timeframe and to make things more dramatic. Probably none of the launch scenes were exactly as it happened in real life, and I'm sure some of those CATO and flight pics were "spiced up" a bit to make for more interesting launch failure clips in the movie.

Another nitpicky thing that the movie did that was off from the real thing was changing Miss Rileys size, and not paying attention to propellant formulations. If I remember correctly the final rocket wasn't even called Miss Riley, it was just another of the Auk series (Auk 34 or 30 something I think) and also (going off memory here) the actual final rocket was only 2.25" in diameter and 6 ft. tall, and it was launched along with several others, not just that one. That's according to what the book said. They obviously made the real final rocket much bigger and prettier for the movie. The height is about the same, but the diameter and name are different...adding more dramatic effect. Now the propellant formulations were probably not observed because of safey reasons and for the fact that the average joe (not rocketeer) didn't care what speed the motor burned and what the exhaust pattern looked like. They just want to see big rockets flying high into the sky on a big flame. If the movie was correct on propellant formulations then the first rockets were accurately done (blackpowder propellant), the mid-sized ones should have had little to no flame an lots of white smoke (KNO3/sugar), and the last few rockets, being micrograins, should have looked something similar to the linked photos at the bottom of this message.

There's no way to getting everything exact, and that wasn't Hollywood's plan...they based their own created events on actual ones and made theirs fitting to what most people would like to see in a movie.

https://www.aeroconsystems.com/photos/mailrock.htm

https://www.ddeville.com/derek/zinc.htm

#### Neil

##### Well-Known Member
WHERE DO YOU BUY MICROGRAINS!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?! Those are some really cool launch pics... Got any more? How do they DO that!?

Thats almost as good as a Sparky motor...

#### hokkyokusei

##### Well-Known Member
If you enjoyed the film, and care at all about the subject matter, then you really must read the book. The film is good, but it's not the real story, and the book is an excellent read. Hmmm, think I'll read it again!

#### astrowolf67

##### Well-Known Member
If you have the DVD, and watch the extra's, you can see the recovery of the last launch, the Miss Riley. Landed right back on the launch site, to the applause of the crowd off to the side watching.

#### JStarStar

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I got the DVD and I was watching the "bonus materials," where they talk to the directors, actors and Homer Hickam.

Chris Cooper (Homer's dad) gets into an amusing little discussion about how when he was a kid in the early 60s, he actually did launch rockets (but never as big as Homer's.) and seemed to actually know a little bit about design, etc.

That would have been hilarious if, after spending the whole movie being gruff and grouchy and more-or-less discouraging about Homer's crazy rocket stuff, Dad shows up at the big launch, and suddenly says to Homer, "Hey son, did you do CP/CG calculations on that one? Did you take into consideration propellant depletion and in-flight CG shift? You maybe need some root-edge reinforcement on those fin joints... that sucker could shred during boost phase."

#### Neil

##### Well-Known Member
Yea, I think ill read it again too... I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and LOTR trilogy... I guess ill re-read the Davinci Code and Rocket Boys again...

#### daveyfire

##### Piled Higher and Deeper
Originally posted by Neil
WHERE DO YOU BUY MICROGRAINS!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?! Those are some really cool launch pics... Got any more? How do they DO that!?
It's basically a reaction between zinc and sulfur, often shown in high school chemistry classes to show an ox/redox reaction.

But...

Don't mess with it.

PERIOD.

Composite motors have become the dominant technology for a reason: they don't blow up. A micrograin launch is essentially a cannon shot. They vaporize many pounds of propellant in 1/4 second or less. Scary. They must be made of steel to handle the heat and pressure. The propellant is very shock and heat sensitive, so it must be mixed and packed at the launch site -- away from anyone and anything else, Nomex coveralls required. They CATO very often. And believe me, steel motor CATOs aren't pretty. The only micrograins I've seen in action were at the RRS Live Fire 98, and the RRS knows micrograins.

Stick with composites.

#### marvSRG

##### Well-Known Member
I DEFINATELY second daveyfire. Dangerous stuff.That was just for show and as an example.

However, it does raise a thought. The Zn/S combination HH and the Rocket Boys used was way different than what is done by amateurs today and in the recent past....I believe theirs was not only a different ratio, but as all who read the book know, it was bound with moonshine (essentially pure methanol), and that's in no way like what is done with Zn/S motors today, from what I know. I wonder what their output was. It evidently worked well....the book said the final Auk (what Ms. Riley was patterned after) was 2.25"x6'-ish and it went about 7 miles up (if not 7, something way up there). It doesn't sound as low effeciency as amateur Zn/S motors I have heard of...it was said to be their most powerful propellant- beating out KNO3/sugar. Any thoughts?

#### gerbs4me

##### Well-Known Member
I htink they called their propellent zincoshine, if I remember correctly. At first they used BP, then moved on to KN/SU, then Zn/S.

#### Ray Dunakin

##### Well-Known Member
According to a magazine article I read, the scenes where the rockets are landsharking and catoing were mostly done with CGI (computer animation).

#### Ray Dunakin

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by daveyfire
Don't mess with it. PERIOD.

Composite motors have become the dominant technology for a reason: they don't blow up. A micrograin launch is essentially a cannon shot. They vaporize many pounds of propellant in 1/4 second or less. Scary. They must be made of steel to handle the heat and pressure. The propellant is very shock and heat sensitive, so it must be mixed and packed at the launch site -- away from anyone and anything else, Nomex coveralls required. They CATO very often. And believe me, steel motor CATOs aren't pretty. The only micrograins I've seen in action were at the RRS Live Fire 98, and the RRS knows micrograins.

Stick with composites.
Several years ago, a TRA member was carrying a small baggie containing about 2 ounces of micrograin propellent. It ignited, possibly by a static spark, and he was very severely burned and nearly died. Nasty stuff!