Project MESOS. A two-stage flight to 293,488 ft!

Jmhepworth

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This was an amazing flight. But for me the best part was the human drama. As Kip was installing the igniter in the front closure of the sustainer, his hands trembled a bit. Clearly, he was feeling stress. That got compounded when Noah spilled some Red Bull on the tools (in what Noah and I agreed would be forever referred to as the RBI, for Red Bull Incident). Contrast Kip’s stress with the unmitigated joy he felt when the main deployed. He had done something really, really hard. That was as much fun to watch as the flight itself. You won‘t find a better guy than Kip. Well done, young man.
 

Jmhepworth

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Was this at "Balls"?

Amazing just isn't saying enough by several orders of magnitude!

Massive congratulations are due.

Clearly you did your homework!

Brad
This was at BlackRock. The Utah Rocket Club (where Kip is Prefect) has held a high altitude launch at BlackRock the week after Balls the past 3 years. We have the same unlimited waiver, but it’s quite a bit more relaxed. Less than 100 people were standing at the flight line to watch Kip’s flight. Incidentally, Matt Dahle, who took pictures for Kip, broke the Tripoli record for an H flight the day before, flying a scratch built 29mm minimum diameter on an H13 to over 15,000 feet.
 

Steve Shannon

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Indeed Impressive.

A nit, but I think any flight over 100k is automatically a C3 flight regardless of impulse.
No, FAA defines a Class 3 rocket as containing more than 40,960 Ns, regardless of desired altitude. Tripoli rules require a review by the Class 3 Review Committee for flights above 100k, but that doesn’t make the flight Class 3.
 

mikec

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I assume the Kate pyro board was used for ignition control. I'd be interested to hear about the Raven configurations. Glad to see the electronics choices worked well. Congrats, richly deserved!
 

VernK

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I assume the Kate pyro board was used for ignition control. I'd be interested to hear about the Raven configurations. Glad to see the electronics choices worked well. Congrats, richly deserved!
Yes, the Kate pyro board managed sustainer ignition, drogue deployment and main deployment. My understanding is the Raven was used as a backup but I do not know how it was configured. Something in the booster fired the separation charge.
 

FredA

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Ah yes, thanks Steve for the clarification - so it had to go through the C-3 committee but wasn't C3.
 

VernK

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Was there any spin stabilization, if so, rates? Well done!
Spin stabilization was not used. The spin rates were actually fairly low. The maximum roll rate was 500 deg/sec at sustainer burnout at Mach 4.2. After sustainer burn out, the roll rate gradually slowed down and was just 35 deg/sec for the last 50 seconds until apogee. A plot of the roll rate is shown below. I have also linked a video below that shows a real time animation of the gyro data from this flight. (Although the rocket had two-stages the animation just shows it as a single stage for simplicity. There is no sound in the video.) Above 100,000 feet, the fins are not very effective and the rocket started coning a little bit. It eventually started pointing in virtually any direction as it coasted up to apogee. It never did start tumbling but near the end it was pointing slightly down while still coasting up. (The data being displayed in the right side panel of the video is easier to read on a screen bigger than a phone.) Both the animation and roll rate are examples of data automatically provided by the Multitronix Flight Data Analyzer software.



MESOS_RollRatePlot.png
 

boatgeek

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Spin stabilization was not used. The spin rates were actually fairly low. The maximum roll rate was 500 deg/sec at sustainer burnout at Mach 4.2. After sustainer burn out, the roll rate gradually slowed down and was just 35 deg/sec for the last 50 seconds until apogee. A plot of the roll rate is shown below. I have also linked a video below that shows a real time animation of the gyro data from this flight. (Although the rocket had two-stages the animation just shows it as a single stage for simplicity. There is no sound in the video.) Above 100,000 feet, the fins are not very effective and the rocket started coning a little bit. It eventually started pointing in virtually any direction as it coasted up to apogee. It never did start tumbling but near the end it was pointing slightly down while still coasting up. (The data being displayed in the right side panel of the video is easier to read on a screen bigger than a phone.) Both the animation and roll rate are examples of data automatically provided by the Multitronix Flight Data Analyzer software.



View attachment 540428

It's amazing to have data for that kind of animation from COTS software altimeters. I'm also having trouble wrapping my brain around the rocket being nearly 90 degrees to the vertical at 1000 ft/s upward velocity. It's the rarefied world of high-altitude rocketry for sure.

Congratulations! And especially that the fins look fine for another launch after topping out above M4. That says so much about your construction techniques.
 

StanO

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Uh... WOW! Comments before have said it all. Congratulations on an incredible flight.

So there was kickapoo juice in the homemade propellant, months of meticulous planning, slow careful construction, and an appeal to have Lady Luck sit on your shoulder. All things I aspire to. If you decide to buy stock in a company please let me know.

Let's see, 55+ miles; what's next the von Karman line? It's not that much further.
 

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FredA

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Lady luck certainly provided the perfect weather - glad to see somebody take advantage of it.
Cool info about all the twists and turns at the top - with no atmosphere to provide drag let alone control authority it makes sense that it will just wonder around the Cg based on the slightest of input.
 

OverTheTop

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Congratulations on the flight. The amount of effort leading up to the even would have been stupendous. Very well done indeed :cool: .

Oh, and you managed to get a longer staging delay than my 15.5s ;) . Impressive!
 

boatgeek

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Was there anything exotic about your propellant? The flame looks a little more orange than the average White Thunder/White Lightning load. Generalities would be great to keep it out of the Research section.

Also, this shows a real advantage of research loads for high flights. You couldn't do something similar (in 2 stages) using commercial loads without taking a performance hit of going to a 6" booster motor and likely going into Class 3.
 

flyguy614

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Wow, insanely impressive. Here's to the Karman line, congratulations and can't wait to see what's next.
(And shoutout to Matt for the pictures - was great to meet you at NROL-91 :)
My pleasure! And was great to meet you too!
 

rocket_troy

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Also, this shows a real advantage of research loads for high flights. You couldn't do something similar (in 2 stages) using commercial loads without taking a performance hit of going to a 6" booster motor and likely going into Class 3.

Indeed. For these sorts of altitudes, you can really gain an awful lot from a custom made upper stage motor. Not only can you eek every ounce of specific impulse from a max expansion ratio, you can also significantly increase your mass fraction by running a much lower chamber pressure and accompanying retention structure to accommodate.

TP
 

jsdemar

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Was there anything exotic about your propellant? The flame looks a little more orange than the average White Thunder/White Lightning load. Generalities would be great to keep it out of the Research section.
Oxamide.
 

Reinhard

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Flight performance specs from Kate 3.0: Tilt at sustainer ignition was only 4 deg off vertical per GPS and 3 deg off vertical per the IMU.

View attachment 540354
Congrats for the flight!

I have to ask: What's the deal with the "Max Baro altitude: 275131 feet AGL"? The pressure at that altitude is far beyond the limits of conventional barometers and into vacuum gauge territory.

Reinhard
 

VernK

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I have to ask: What's the deal with the "Max Baro altitude: 275131 feet AGL"? The pressure at that altitude is far beyond the limits of conventional barometers and into vacuum gauge territory.

Good point! That 275K baro sensor max altitude is what the sensor reports when it is beyond the limits of its capability. It is just pure luck that it happened to end up pretty close to the actual altitude. However, it is listed on the flight summary page produced by my software and I think Kip just did a cut-n-paste of it when he posted those numbers. Looks like I need to modify my software to display "NA" or something like that when the altitude is beyond what the baro sensor can sense.

Here is a plot of the altitude data from the flight. Baro sensor data is green, accelerometer is red, GPS is blue. You can see the baro sensor error sky-rockets once it gets above 100K. I should fix that too so it doesn't mess up the plot like this. On the other hand, I was very happy with the agreement between the accelerometer and GPS. The GPS plot has gaps in it due to it being above the GPS velocity limit during those times. Including on the way down!

MESOS_AltitudePlot.png
 

VernK

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While I am sharing plots, here is one more I found interesting. It shows tilt during the flight up until apogee. Tilt being the angle away from vertical. (i.e. Tilt = 0 is straight up.) Green is the data from the gyros. Blue is the data from the GPS. Again, missing GPS dots are because the velocity was too high during that time. Tilt was used to qualify sustainer ignition. The tilt at sustainer ignition was 4 degrees according to the GPS and about 3 degrees according to the gyros. That is quite good. The tilt measured by the GPS simply assumes the rocket is pointing in the direction it is traveling. However, this was not true above about 100K. It reached 100K at about 40 seconds. After that, there are huge differences between the gyros and GPS because it was not pointing the direction it was traveling. The GPS is also unable to pick up the fine detail that the gyros show as small oscillations (i.e. sinewaves) in the tilt.

MESOS_TiltPlot.png
 
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Charles_McG

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It’s been discussed in other uber—altitude threads, but I thought that the natural tendency was for the spinning body to transfer the angular momentum to the longest axis. Or perhaps normal to the longest axis. So a rapid spinning (around the long axis) rocket will become a slowly spinning rocket, with the long axis turning.

Which is why research sounding rockets despin once above the effective atmosphere and switch to RCS for instrument pointing.
 
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