Orion Starliner RC RG, big and small versions

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Jan 27, 2009
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Something I've been working on. I used the general wing planform from the 2001 orion III shuttle design, but then added a appropriately shaped vertical fin(which doesn't exist on the 2001 shuttle) and used estes PS-II 2" tubing and the standard estes PSII 9.5" cone. I angle cut the rear to give the look I wanted and also to push the motor mount forward. I did not use centering rings but used a notch cut in the vertical fin tab to hold the motor mount. The vertical fin tab also locks through a notch in the wing. I played with wing location and CG to optimize the wing location and wound up with a 9.5 oz rtf model with no nose weight needed. I painted it in a shuttle like black bottom and leading/trailing edge pattern using testors flat black, then did some line markings with a sharpie and added accents on the vertical fin and wing using trim vinyl. Test flights showed a very nice boost to around 700' and a really nice glide with easy flare on landing using an E-6.

Wingspan is 25" and length is 36.5" 2" diameter.

I decided to go with TWA markings since I already have a Pan-Am marked model and "Trans World" seemed more appropriate for a space plane....I'm waiting for the tail and body art from stickershock with a red stripe with windows/doors, TWA tail logo with small window markings on the cone.


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Here she is finished up, stickershock did a superb job!


Video from today it was really gusty, 10mph gusting to 20, wind would always die about 6' off the ground making crappy landings, but it handles the gusts pretty well during flight.

No, it's an artifact of the video, I only push forward about 20 degrees to get upwind but due to the closeness of the person launching and taking the video and the zooming it looks like I push over a lot.

It looks like rather than have the model go straight up, you quickly level out into a glide trajectory. Is that right?
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The decals really make this glider "pop"! :wink:

To review your flight path (for these windy conditions):
- Launched straight up.
- Nosed into the wind, heading downwind of the runway.
- After apogee, turned downwind.
- Continued downwind, turning upwind past end of runway.
- Straight glide path to runway.

This video is very gratifying to me, because it seems to be a lot like my flight experiences.

I am from northeast Arkansas, and we have had unusually wet and windy conditions this summer. It seemed I could not mimic your flights in other videos, but maybe the weather is more of a factor than I realized. :blush:

Very cool stuff. :cool: :cool: :cool:
Do you program a switch on your transmitter to differentiate the trim on launch versus glide ?
You outdid yourself with the paint job on this one. Stunning! I'm always amazed at your precision panel-lines.

Are you still working through your remaining supply of Depron, or have you found a workable substitute?
I'm still working through my supply, but what I have is pre-cut for the Hypersonic and Stratodart, I'm playing with flite test waterproof foam board to see if it will work, but it requires different techniques and glues so it will take me some time to see if it will work.


You outdid yourself with the paint job on this one. Stunning! I'm always amazed at your precision panel-lines.

Are you still working through your remaining supply of Depron, or have you found a workable substitute?
I'm working on a 1.5x upscale, would be 3" T300 tubing, PNC300K, and double thick depron wings/fin. 54" long, 37" wingspan, targeting 22 oz empty, 26.5 oz rtf, and 24.5 oz glide weight and use the 32mm G-12 rc motors, should be slightly less performance on boost, the G12 is near to double the E-6 for peak and sustained thrust, but should have a slower glide, since the cubic wing loading for the original small version is 7.8 and the larger version 6.3. Cubic wing loading is basically wing area in sq foot, raised to the 1.5 power divided into the glide weight. This is a volumetric number that is a better indicator of relative performance to compare models of different sizes, as opposed to simple wing loading.

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Here is what I got done tonight. Cut the wing and tail pieces, and joined them using bob smith foam tac equivalent and taped the seams, foam tac works great like contact cement. Cut and grooved for the hollow carbon spar tubes, and installed them with foam tac. Then used 3m-77 spray adhesive to join the top and bottom of the wing and two tail sides and then round the edges. Lastly cut and beveled and installed the elevons. The notch in the vertical fin tab is for the motor tube to mount into. The wing will be slotted also for the vertical fin to tab into once I determine the location of the wing to meet the cg placement.

Tail is 7/8 ounce and Wing is 7 ounces total. Wingspan is 37.5" for reference.

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Yes, I use the flap switch on my transmitter. It allows me to mix elevator with flap switch setting so I can pre-program any trim for boost or glide and just flip between them.

Do you program a switch on your transmitter to differentiate the trim on launch versus glide ?
Got the BT-300 tubes and nose cone/coupler from bms today, almost exactly the weights I guessed, maybe a half an ounce different, measured, cut and slotted and here she is dry fit, with all hardware is 22 oz as she sits, without motor. 57.5" tip to tail, 55" tip to rear of body tube.

Installed the rail buttons. Rail buttons are offset from the bottom to clear the servos and not catch on the ground when landing. I put a couple of skids in place to help protect the body tube when landing on our fabric runway material. The rear of the tube is angle cut like the smaller version and should allow sufficient clearance of the flame since it is small on the g-12. I did soak the rear area with CA to help protect it a bit. You can see how the motor tube slots into the fin tab and the front inch also slots into the wing to ensure it is centered at the front. I also soaked the motor tube end. I used a BT-56 for the motor tube which is slightly larger ID than 32mm motor tube but very close, this adds some thickness and robustness and is very light. I glued in a 1/8" ply plate at the front of the motor tube to spread the load of the thrust and insolate the hot forward end of the motor tube from the foam.

Finished the radio install, I was able to get away without needing servo extensions and mount the receiver/battery slightly behind the CG accessible by a hatch on the bottom. Glue did not add much if any weight since most of the construction is mechanical I just need small glue joints to keep things from sliding out of place. I used through the wing servo mounts and used some styrene reinforcing on both sides of the elevon to help provide strength to the control horn mount. After all this, I was able to trim the forward body tube piece back 1.25" and still looks like it will meet CG, this cuts a bit of weight and gives me a bit more yaw stability margin. I added a little depron foam shelf to mount some magnets in to keep the hatch closed and hinged it with blenderm tape at the front. Right now it is at 21.5 ounces, so maybe a half ounce of paint should put me at my target of 22 oz rtf less motor.

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Finished the painting this morning, only added a half an ounce, so at the target weight of 22 oz without motor. Here she is next to the original size version, my stickershock decals should be here monday and I can finish her up.


Mark did his usual stunning job on the markings and she is finished up ready for maiden as soon as my casing and reloads get in.

That is my new favorite thing you've built. Very simple but the proportions and the paint job are just perfect. Just beautiful!

(I like it, in case that was not clear)
Thank you, I really appreciate that, it turned out really well, and the color scheme/markings I envisioned really brought it to life.

That is my new favorite thing you've built. Very simple but the proportions and the paint job are just perfect. Just beautiful!

(I like it, in case that was not clear)
I got my motor casing and G-12 reloads today and checked the balance, it was right on the mark. The BT-56 tube was perfect, just a nice slip fit, required a wrap or two of masking tape to make the motor snug.

I flew two test flights today in moderate 5-7mph wind and it worked great. Very stable on boost, just need a minor adjustment for a bit of down trim on boost and a bit more up trim for glide than I guessed. Other that that it flew very gracefully, I'm very pleased.

My daughter is back in college now so I'm not sure when I can get her to video for me.

I got out with my daughter this afternoon after her dentist appt and got a nice low wind flight in:

I've built the Large Orion Star Liner from Frank's plans available on the DynaSoar Rocketry website. Photo's are attached. Decals are from Mark at Sticker Shock. One photo shows the Orion next to the smaller Aurora Clipper, which is powered by the E6 motor. The full-up weight (all electronics, but no G12 motor) of the Orion came in at 21.05 oz, which is close to the finished weight that Frank gives in his instructions. I am waiting to get the G12 motor from our local Club motor vendor. How does the saying go: Imitation is the highest form of admiration.


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