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

Kip_Daugirdas

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I finished the launch video and sent it to some friends and family. They all came back and said it needed some backstory (making of content). I definitely agree with them. However, this is going to take some work and time on my end to put together. Like with everything related to rockets - it’s DELAYED.
 

Adrian A

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Kip sent me the Raven data. Here's selected data from the FIP:

1666809606415.png

You can see the barometric pressure (light green line) go to nearly zero at around 60 seconds and come back at about 240 seconds. The measured Gs are at about zero that whole time but the rocket basically re-entered the atmosphere around then, probably tumbling. While the baro sensor is well out of its spec range it drifts around a little, reading slightly negative for a time (where the blue line disappears) and then measuring slightly positive values prior to re-entry. I find the temperature is interesting. People are often concerned about atmospheric heating or cooling of the av-bay on a flight like this, but the temperature measured at the pressure sensor on the Raven shows there's just a benign steady warm-up during the high-Mach part of the flight that continues through the exo-atmospheric part and the re-entry, and then it cools down again once the rocket hits the thicker cold air.

I did some post-processing to get rid of artifacts like the fact that velocities over 3276.8 are recorded as negative numbers and to use the on-board velocity estimate to calculate the altitude.

1666810264538.png

The black line is the altitude derived from the on-board velocity estimate, assuming that the long axis of the Raven was vertical throughout the flight. For Kip's flight, which was pretty vertical, that's a decent assumption. The other lines are different conversions of barometric pressure to altitude, using equations that are valid for different parts of the atmosphere.

Below I zoomed in on the early part of the flight:
1666810441697.png
The blue line is for the troposphere, valid up to about 36 kft. Then the tropopause goes up to about 65 kft, and then it's the stratosphere up to 104,000 feet. That's as many layers of the atmosphere as the Raven uses on-board to convert pressure to altitude. Kip's flight continued into the mesophere and maybe the thermosphere. Each different layer of the atmosphere uses a different equation because the temperature vs. altitude relationship changes at those boundaries:

1666810583288.png

One thing I'm always interested to check is how close the Raven's accel-derived apogee detection got to the actual apogee. Normally I could use the baro sensor to look at that, but of course apogee was out of range of the baro sensor. But if we look at what time the rocket left the sensible atmosphere and re-entered, apogee should be nearly exactly halfway, since it's just Newton's laws for parabolic flight with almost no atmospheric drag to get in the way.

The baro sensor read 0.001 atm on the way up at 53.5 seconds. On the way down it went through that pressure level at 232 seconds. Averaging those gives us 142.7 seconds, whereas the accel-derived apogee charge went off at 149 seconds. So the charge went off about 7 seconds after apogee if the drag was the same on the way up as on the way down. And then was about 80 seconds of freefall outside of significant atmosphere before the rocket started slowing down. Quite an impressive flight!
 

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Neutronium95

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Video is (finally) out!! I hope you enjoy it!
MESOS full flight!

That was a great video. I loved seeing a bit of the work that went into designing and building the rocket. And the flight footage was absolutely gorgeus.

Since you've already flown above the American definition of space, are you going to aim for 100 km next year?
 

techrat

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WOW... So, lemme get this straight in my head... First stage stops about 30,500 and second stage continues to boost to 100,000 ft, at which point the motor burns out, but the second stage coasts past 350,000ft, meaning it climbed 250,000 feet without propulsion, just inertia? WOW. hold on. did I say WOW? Wow.
 

Blast it Tom!

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Kip, as a retired mechanical engineer, let me just say that I've seldom seen such a level of professionalism in every aspect of the design and manufacture of this space vehicle. What a piece of work! And the video was good, so maybe despite my meme you are a video producer after all. Beautiful pictures and all! I'm really impressed with all the machining work, the design of the payload pays and electronics mounting, mixing your propellants, the patterns fro laying up the fins, and you overall craftsmanship - for Pete's sake you did it all!

Er... I guess really since it escaped the mesosphere as well you could rename it.... Thermos? Wait, that won't work...
 

wclaybaugh2

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That was a great video. I loved seeing a bit of the work that went into designing and building the rocket. And the flight footage was absolutely gorgeus.

Since you've already flown above the American definition of space, are you going to aim for 100 km next year?
There is no "American" definition of where "space" begins:

Historically (circa 60 years ago), the USAF called people "astronauts" if they flew above 50 nm (in the X-15, defacto). In the run-up to the 1967 Space Treaty the US State Department concluded that the US would take "no position" on the boundary between the atmosphere and outer space; that decision was in part based on certain equatorial nations claiming that their air space extended to Geostationary Orbit (or to infinity, in some cases) as well as to avoid opening up issues related to the orbital overflight (by imaging spacecraft) of other nations. That position remains the position of the United States to this day.

There is a single "commercial" sub-orbital tourist company that is claiming that 50 miles makes an astronaut largely because their system is incapable of exceeding 100 km. That is a claim by a single company and has nothing to do with the "American" position on where space begins.

The FAA had it's hands slapped by the Department of State for briefly offering "astronaut" certificates to people who exceed 50 nm aboard "commercial" sub-orbital vehicles; they accordingly no longer offer such certification.

This matter was pretty thoroughly parsed during the CATS Prize when it was ultimately agreed among the participates that 100 km would be the altitude of "space" for the purpose of awarding that $250k prize money because that is the highest altitude that has been suggested by any space faring nation (the European Union).

To summarize: there is no "American" definition of where space begins. It has, however, for 25 years been customary among amateurs to use 100 km as that line.

Bill
 
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Adrian A

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Video is (finally) out!! I hope you enjoy it!
MESOS full flight!

Wow, I love how the video shows so much prep and testing that went into this flight! What a great model for rocketry. Anyone who wants to show someone unfamiliar with the hobby what the best rocketeers are doing, this is a great introduction.
 
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Kip_Daugirdas

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That was a great video. I loved seeing a bit of the work that went into designing and building the rocket. And the flight footage was absolutely gorgeus.

Since you've already flown above the American definition of space, are you going to aim for 100 km next year?
Thank you to everyone!

I plan to fly MESOS more and try some iterative ideas like new fin materials and ablative coatings. Given it only uses 41 lbs of fuel (full O-motor) and is reusable, it’s a relatively inexpensive rocket to fly.

I don’t have breaking 100 km as a personal goal. Where space begins is a silly debate. However, if and most likely when I design/build a new rocket, I would like to have it fly considerably higher. On the order of 50-100k ft higher. That’s really the increase in altitude you need to have a different/better view. I love capturing the photos and video from these flights. The rocket I want to use for that would not be a direct scale up of MESOS. It’s going to involve a lot of new (to me) tech. So it will take some time to design, test, and build. How long really depends but you know how timelines of rocket projects typically go.
 

RGClark

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I flew my latest rocket to 293,488 ft (that’s 55.6 miles high) and reached speeds over 4 times the speed of sound. This was a massive effort for me that spanned several years (2020-2022) and tested me, at times, to the limits of my sanity. I dreamt and daydreamed of this result but always knew that failure was the most likely outcome with projects of this nature. I’m still reeling from the success. Check out these initial photos and enjoy!

Rocket Info….
Booster: 4.50” / Sustainer: 3.00” diameter
Weight: 87lbs at pad
Length: 12.3ft
Payload: 2x GoPro 9 with rectilinear lenses (one shooting 4K/60fps and the other photos)
Avionics sustainer: Multitronix Kate 3.0, Featherweight Raven 4
Avionics booster: 2x Featherweight Raven 4, Beeline GPS
Motors:
Experimental O4500 (32,943 N-s at Sea Level)
Experimental M830 (7,743 N-s at Sea Level)

View attachment 540348

A 45 degree blast deflector and two concrete patio stones could not keep the playa from being excavated!

View attachment 540349

O4500 boosting to Mach 2.2 on the first stage!

View attachment 540350

At apogee. Looking west at the California/Oregon border. You can see Mount Shasta and the Pacific Ocean! Who knew Nevada had an ocean view!?

View attachment 540351

At apogee. Looking north, not much to see but some crispy sustainer (2nd stage) fins from the Mach 4.2 ascent.

View attachment 540352

Raising the tower with my pad helpers Noah Joraanstad and Joe Hepworth.

View attachment 540353

MESOS is the rocket name because it was designed to fly into the mesosphere (atmospheric layer above the stratosphere). However it reached the lower portion of the Thermosphere thanks to its over performance.

Congrats! Once you achieved, essentially, altitude for suborbital space, and high altitude stage ignition, getting to orbital space is a short step forward, probably with 4 stages:

Orbital rockets are now easy, page 2: solid-rockets for cube-sats.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2017/08/orbital-rockets-are-now-easy-page-2.html

Amateurs able to produce their own self-made orbital rockets creates a new paradigm for small scale launch at a price far less even than SpaceX. In an upcoming blog post I’ll describe it and how it can be profitable for cubesat launch.

Bob Clark
 
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Congrats! Once you achieved, essentially, altitude for suborbital space, and high altitude stage ignition, getting to orbital space is a short step forward, probably with 4 stages:

Orbital rockets are now easy, page 2: solid-rockets for cube-sats.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2017/08/orbital-rockets-are-now-easy-page-2.html

Amateurs able to produce their own self-made orbital rockets creates a new paradigm for small scale launch at a price far less even than SpaceX. In an upcoming blog post I’ll describe it and how it can be profitable for cubesat launch.

Bob Clark
looking forward to that
 

LithosphereRocketry

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Congrats! Once you achieved, essentially, altitude for suborbital space, and high altitude stage ignition, getting to orbital space is a short step forward, probably with 4 stages:

Orbital rockets are now easy, page 2: solid-rockets for cube-sats.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2017/08/orbital-rockets-are-now-easy-page-2.html

Amateurs able to produce their own self-made orbital rockets creates a new paradigm for small scale launch at a price far less even than SpaceX. In an upcoming blog post I’ll describe it and how it can be profitable for cubesat launch.

Bob Clark
Out of curiosity, did you change your advertisement template since 2017 or is it a complete copy/paste?
 

techrat

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Congrats! Once you achieved, essentially, altitude for suborbital space, and high altitude stage ignition, getting to orbital space is a short step forward, probably with 4 stages:
No. Going from suborbital to orbital is another whole ball of wax. Its much more complex and requires a lot more control. And then using it to launch a payload? Considerably more complex. Just ask Blue Origin. Bezos has pretty much unlimited money and hasn't gone orbital yet. That's a big step of engineering.
 

cls

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question for Kip:. Was the roll under boost intentional? For stability?

Very interesting to see in the video when the upper stage starts tumbling because the fins stop working and the roll has nulled.
 

3stoogesrocketry

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How did they solve the problem of high altitude 2nd stage ignition which caused problems for other amateur teams?

Bob Clark
For someone like yourself , you should have easily picked up his he did this. Not only is it in the video , but he also described it in this thread. Might I suggest you go back and read , you might learn something new.
 

Kip_Daugirdas

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question for Kip:. Was the roll under boost intentional? For stability?

Very interesting to see in the video when the upper stage starts tumbling because the fins stop working and the roll has nulled.
I was aiming for no roll which I’ve found to be pretty impossible. The energy from the roll got transferred into the tumble which helped null it out. I was thankful for this because it yielded great (low spin-rate) footage for the top-half of the ascent.

I would like to spin stabilize and despin a future project.
 

RGClark

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Yes, I think it is. If I had not landed on rocks, the second stage would have been good for reuse but one of the fins got clipped and the upper airframe chipped. It was a nasty spot to land in. The first stage is ready for another flight.

I’m not sure CSXT was designed for reuse or full recovery beyond the payload. But I never considered that project amateur in regards to the manpower and funding behind it. *These are just my opinions.*

A fair point. Like everyone else I’m impressed by the accomplishment. Did any members of your team have industry experience?

Bob Clark
 

Ryan611

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Thank you to everyone!

I plan to fly MESOS more and try some iterative ideas like new fin materials and ablative coatings. Given it only uses 41 lbs of fuel (full O-motor) and is reusable, it’s a relatively inexpensive rocket to fly.

I don’t have breaking 100 km as a personal goal. Where space begins is a silly debate. However, if and most likely when I design/build a new rocket, I would like to have it fly considerably higher. On the order of 50-100k ft higher. That’s really the increase in altitude you need to have a different/better view. I love capturing the photos and video from these flights. The rocket I want to use for that would not be a direct scale up of MESOS. It’s going to involve a lot of new (to me) tech. So it will take some time to design, test, and build. How long really depends but you know how timelines of rocket projects typically go.
If you don’t mind me asking, what material did you make those fins out of? I doubt fiberglass can handle the immense speeds you got up to. Did you use aluminum or some other metal?
 
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