RC SpaceShipOne and White Knight

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havoc821

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One of my future goals it to build a scaled RC version of SpaceShipOne and the White Knight carrier. After recently getting back into RC planes, which is where most of my money is going,(now that I have a job) I have been pondering on this idea. I would like to make the SSO fly on a G motor or something like that so this would be a pretty reasonably sized project. I would like to get the Estes SSO first to get a better idea of the exact dimensions and stuff and to figure out how it would work, but I think this would be an AWESOME project to do! It would be even cooler if I got one of those long burn Apogee F10 motors with a 6 sec burn! I was wondering if there is anywhere where I can find dimaentions of both vehicles? Well, I just thought I might share my ideas and dreams with you guys. Any thoughts, comments, or questions are greatly appreciated! :D
 

powderburner

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That does look like a cool project. It would certainly get you max points for super-scale (is that the right one?) for having a "scale" launcher.

Before you sink too much effort into this, however, you may want to ask around and see if this breaks any rules. Sooner or later, some hand-wringing-pansy is going to complain about launching guided missiles from radio-controlled airplanes . . .
 

vjp

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Some months ago Flying Models magazine did an R/C White Knight, powered by ducted fans. They were planning on doing an R/C SS1 in the article's next segment, but I haven't bought any issues since then. If you can find it, you might be able to pick up some pointers, or contact the authors to glean some helpful info.
 

GL-P

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Cool!!!

I would be concerned tho about the people who are nervous about such a launch system. I'm not worried about it as long as it is launched well away from a crowd. You should probably ask around. You might have to launch it at an experimental launch.
 

bobkrech

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It's a nice idea, but I believe it violates rule 6 of the NAR Model Rocket Safety Code.

"Launcher. I will launch my rocket from a launch rod, tower, or rail that is pointed to within 30 degrees of the vertical to ensure that the rocket flies nearly straight up, ..........."

Bob Krech
 

cjl

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you could put the white knight into an almost-vertical climb before launch. Then you wouldn't violate any rules, and not only that, you'd fly higher too.
 

Initiator001

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Originally posted by bobkrech
It's a nice idea, but I believe it violates rule 6 of the NAR Model Rocket Safety Code.

"Launcher. I will launch my rocket from a launch rod, tower, or rail that is pointed to within 30 degrees of the vertical to ensure that the rocket flies nearly straight up, ..........."

Bob Krech

The flying of such a combination of models would probably occur at an AMA event/field.

Under AMA rules, the air-starting and/or launching of rockets is permitted with special stipulations (I can't remember the details).

The NAR Safety Code would not apply.
 

vjp

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There is a separate, Radio Control Rocket Glider Safety Code category for RC rocket-powered vehicles. So you can fly something like an RC SpaceShipOne with the complete blessings of the NAR.
 

bobkrech

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The AMA rules for R/C aircraft operations are posted at https://www.modelaircraft.org/PDF-files/105.pdf

The section concerning rockets states

"I will not operate model aircraft carrying pyrotechnic devices which explode, burn, or propel a projectile of any kind. Exceptions include Free Flight fuses or devices that burn producing smoke and are securely attached to the model aircraft during flight. Rocket motors up to a G-series size may be used, provided they remain firmly attached to the model aircraft during flight. Model rockets may be flown in accordance with the National Model Rocketry Safety Code; however, they may not be launched from model aircraft. Officially designated AMA Air Show Teams (AST) are authorized to use devices and practices as defined within the Air Show Advisory Committee Document."

That's a pretty clear statement that it is not allowed by AMA rules.

The NAR rule on Radio-Controlled (R/C) Rocket Boosted Glider (RBG) is located at https://nar.org/NARrcrbgsc.html

"A Radio-Controlled (R/C) Rocket Boosted Glider (RBG) is defined as a rocket boosted model capable of gliding flight and equipped with a radio control system capable of controlling the direction of flight during glide and, optionally, boost."

Furthermore

"An R/C RBG may be launched at angles of 30 to 45 degrees from vertical provided that it is capable of having its flight path controlled safely during rocket boost and provided that the launcher is pointed away from specified spectator areas. Otherwise the R/C RBG may not be launched at an angle exceeding 30 degrees from vertical."

This implies ground launch, not air launch.

From the Pink Book https://nar.org/pdf/pinkbook.pdf

A Boost Glider is defined as "any model rocket, one portion of which returns to the ground in stable, gliding flight supported by aerodynamic lifting surfaces which sustain that portion against gravity. If the entry is staged, the gliding portion must be part of the uppermost stage, and must not be deployed until that stage has burned out."

It's pretty clear from that last statement that it is not allowed under NAR rules either.

Bob Krech
 

vjp

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Havoc821 -

My recommendation to you, would be to contact Mac Hodges, the guy who has been flying the air-launched, rocket-powered Bell X-1 from his giant scale B-29 at AMA sanctioned events for years.

His setup is analogous to your own idea, and assuming he hasn't been breaking AMA rules right under the AMA's nose for all these years, I think we can be safely assume that he's doing it under their auspices. Since the drop ship would be an R/C aircraft, this would seem to place it under AMA, rather than NAR's sphere of influence. The X-1 is a "rocket powered aircraft", not a "model rocket", which I believe is why "Model rockets....may not be launched from model aircraft" does not apply to this situation. Anyway, like I said, just ask the guy, since he appears to know what he's doing.

On the other hand, a SS1 model launched directly from the ground would be completely within the scope of the NAR's RCRBG safety code and could be flown under NAR's auspices. There is a provision for air-starts in the RCRBG code, with its own set of safety criteria - but it doesn't specifically mention air-starts in conjunction with air-seps from a non-rocket powered vehicle.
 

powderburner

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I had forgotten completely about that X-1 model. Apparently, that guy was *completely* within the rules because he flew that thing in several contests. I have a video of his last flight (somewhere around here).

I don't think cjl's idea (pull the White Knight into a vertical climb) is going to work too well, I think you will be lucky to get the RC version into straight-n-level flight, pointed in the right direction, over a safe zone on the ground, and make a SSO launch at just the right moment. Trying to add in a zoom climb (and even more finicky timing of the launch) is a lot to take on. And it's not "scale."
 

havoc821

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Well, I don't have to worry about NAR rules right now because I let my subscription run out so that is not a problem. Who said I had to do it at any AMA or NAR sanctioned launch? I can just do it on my own somewhere but I would rather do it in front of a crowd to show off.:D It is just merely a dream right now but you have to agree, it would be AWESOME!!!!!!! I would make the White Knight powered by electric ducted fans. I would fly to an altitude of about 200 feet or so and at least 200 feet away from the crowd and at the designated moment, the SS1 would be dropped. The person flying the White Knight would be in control of the drop. White Knight would be a 5 channel aircraft: motor/throttle, elevator, rudder, ailerons, release mechanism for SS1. SS1 would have 4 channels: elevator, rudder, ailerons, and motor ignition. I don't know yet what scale this would be but it would be a pretty good size. I will research it some more and talk to some people but I would have so much fun doing it because it combines my two favorite hobbies. Well, thanks for the tips guys and keep them coming. THANKS!!!!
 

SwingWing

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George Gassaway's Orbital Skydart is a dual boost glider that has some of the features of the SS1. It has/had motors in both the carrier and the orbiter, two independant R/C units and pilots. The big difference is that it was all launched within 30degrees of vertical from a rocket launchpad. It makes real interesting reading anyway.



https://members.aol.com/RBGliders/OSP/OSP.htm
 

snuggles

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Here's a thought, why not have SS1 just GLIDE down from the carrier aircraft, It'd be a cool way to test things out and you wouldn't be violating any rules
 

cjl

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But then it wouldn't be anything but an RC airplane with an RC glider - no rockets involved.
 

retro

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I fly RC RG and do air starts at local AMA and TRA events. Contact your club and see how they feel about it. The rules that I have seen so far are somewhat gray for what you are proposing. See NAR rules below

https://www.uroc.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=207

The main thing is use common sense and get prior approval from the local club where you want to fly. I use two "E" motors for air start on my 9.5 lb X-15 model. It lifts on a single I200W at close to 12 lbs. Keep it conservative I never air start any motors larger than "F" around a crowd. Remember you’re already at altitude with some foreword momentum. So you won't require near the power you needed at lift off. I recommend using Jomar switches for the air start; they are isolated from the main servos. Contact me if you would like some RC air start circuit suggestions.

If you have not done so yet contact the site listed below they have a lot of RC rocket experience.

https://members.aol.com/GCGassaway/rcgliders.htm


I'll be adding an RC RG tips and tricks section soon to my web site at
https://www.retroflight.com/
 

powderburner

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I gotta hear more about this one.

Originally posted by Retro
I fly RC RG and do air starts at local AMA and TRA events. . . . . I use two "E" motors for air start on my 9.5 lb X-15 model. It lifts on a single I200W at close to 12 lbs.
Did I read that right? An AIR start for an X-15 model?

Does it drop off a B-52 (model)?

Can you get the X-15 to go into a zoom climb on the burn time available from an E motor?

Do you have pictures?
 

BlueNinja

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This WOULD be an awesome project. It could (maybe) be disallowed from the NAR safety code, however I think as the final word you should contact a living person at NAR. An F10 would be nice for the rocket powered portion of the flight. One of the Edmonds gliders is 2stage, airstarts, don't see why this would be any more in violation of the safety code than that particular glider. I say go for it.




Blue
 

retro

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The X-15 is pictured here with some more information.

https://www.retroflight.com/XPROJECTS.html

I have only flown it once so far. I use two aerotech E-25's for air start not just one. They mount on each side of the main I200W motor and are canted (angled) to (point) direct the thrust between the NP (CP) and CG of the model in glide trim. This avoids an off center thrust situation should only one motor fire which would send the model cart wheeling into a spin. I fired the air starts towards the top of the boosted flight. I did this on the first flight to be cautious and check for anomalies. I definitely noticed an air speed increase (nothing dramatic but noticeable) and the fire, smoke and sound alone was exciting.

Not sure how intend to initiate the sir start. I definitely recommend using the Jomar E-switches. The E-switches take care of many of the safety issues, have a separate Nicad battery pack than the receiver and include LEDs so you can see when the circuit is hot. I hook up another set of external LEDS plus couple of Micro safety switches (closed by the launch rail) and an arm pin switch. I use one Jomar switch for the air starts and another one to fire the emergency backup parachutes.
 

Justin

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That is one of the most amazing models I have ever seen. Do you land it with landing gear? Or do you blow a chute? It's rc, so I guess it actually lands. I would love to see that fly..
 

Justin

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Whoops-
2 72" chutes. I can read I promise.:D
 

retro

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Thanks I'm glad you liked the X-15 model.

Since you mentioned landing gear. . . the Disney Von Braun XR-1
passenger rocket RC RG model design that I'm working on now will feature retracts. It will also have chutes. Its a delta wing design with lots of wing area and excellant glide chactoristics. I plan to offer it as a kit to release later in 2005.
The X-15 model on the other hand is a real handfull to fly. I never intended to market it as I knew from the begining it would not glide well. It was just a project that I wanted to do. The X-15 A3 delta design (concept NASA never built) would be a much better design for a more stable RC RG model flyer.
 

retro

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Back to the SS1 WK project.

After the drop and the air start motor burn rather than just gliding it back how about using the feather technique just like Rutan did on the original? I've found that 2,000 feet AGL is about the max altitude where my eyes can distinguish top/ bottom orientation on an RC model. You could fly it under power up to around 3'000, feather it and let it drop back down to say 1,500 AGL then transition to glide and glide it on down the rest of the way?

To me that would really be cool.

You may need some nose ballast (water) in the SS1 depending on how large of motor you plan to air start. Now that could get tricky trying to balance a glide to air start then back to glide. . . which is why I don't use to large of an air start motor. A delta wing is less sensitive to the CG shift and can often get by without ballast. However the SS1 wing design maybe more sensitive. Something you may have to experiment with by building a small hand launch glider first.
 

GL-P

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Yeah, it'd be real cool to do a SS1 that could be boosted, tuck up its wings till a certain altitude like the real one does on reentry and then deploy the wings to glide back to earth.
 

havoc821

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To keep simplicity down, SSO and WK ould not have ailerons. Water for nose ballast in a RC model? Disaster waiting to happen. I would definatly make smaller models to test first before the powered flight. I would also do drop glide test from WK before I ever made a powered flight. I am still researching for dimentions and plans and stuff first. This is still one of those up in the air projects but one I would very much like to do.
 

George Gassaway

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I don’t check the forum often, but came across this thread.

Bob Krech wrote:

>>>>
The AMA rules for R/C aircraft operations are posted at https://www.modelaircraft.org/PDF-files/105.pdf

The section concerning rockets states

"I will not operate model aircraft carrying pyrotechnic devices which explode, burn, or propel a projectile of any kind. Exceptions include Free Flight fuses or devices that burn producing smoke and are securely attached to the model aircraft during flight. Rocket motors up to a G-series size may be used, provided they remain firmly attached to the model aircraft during flight. Model rockets may be flown in accordance with the National Model Rocketry Safety Code; however, they may not be launched from model aircraft. Officially designated AMA Air Show Teams (AST) are authorized to use devices and practices as defined within the Air Show Advisory Committee Document."

That's a pretty clear statement that it is not allowed by AMA rules.
<<<<<<

The purpose of that rule is to prevent the launching of rockets as “projectiles”, not rocket powered model aircraft. That rule was brought about years ago (late 70’s , early 1980’s) thanks to some yahoos putting model rocket powered MISSILES on the wings of model planes to try to hit ground targets.

There have actually been more than one model pairs of B-50 (or historically inaccurate B-29) bombers that have dropped X-1’s that then ignited rocket engines in them. Flown under AMA rules as the X-1 was considered as a second R/C model aircraft that happened to be rocket powered, not as a model rocket or as a projectile.

>>>>>
The NAR rule on Radio-Controlled (R/C) Rocket Boosted Glider (RBG) is located at https://nar.org/NARrcrbgsc.html

"A Radio-Controlled (R/C) Rocket Boosted Glider (RBG) is defined as a rocket boosted model capable of gliding flight and equipped with a radio control system capable of controlling the direction of flight during glide and, optionally, boost."
<<<<<

You forgot to go down to the air-start rules (#6) of the R/C RBG code. It starts by saying:
“Air-starts. During stable, gliding flight of the R/C RBG, an attached motor may be air-started to increase the model's altitude or airspeed without diving. This is permitted if: . . . .” followed by some limitations.

The air-start rule was put there for models like John Kallend’s “Ladyhawk”, which would air-start a second motor during glide (from horizontal glide. Not an insane dive to pick up speed then pull vertical and pray the motor ignited before the model stalled out and pointed down at the ground). And it was also put there for the future inevitable models that would do X-plane and Space Ship One type air-starts of piggybacked R/C gliders. At NARAM next summer, I plan to do some flights of my Orbital SkyDart project where it’ll be in horizontal glide mode when the SkyDart ignites rather than “stage” in near-vertical flight (I was going to do a horizontal air-start on the last flight attempt at NARAM this year, but the two G12’s in the Sky Booster catoed at liftoff).

>>>>>
From the Pink Book https://nar.org/pdf/pinkbook.pdf

A Boost Glider is defined as "any model rocket, one portion of which returns to the ground in stable, gliding flight supported by aerodynamic lifting surfaces which sustain that portion against gravity. If the entry is staged, the gliding portion must be part of the uppermost stage, and must not be deployed until that stage has burned out."

It's pretty clear from that last statement that it is not allowed under NAR rules either.
<<<<<

It’s pretty clear that those are PInk Book rules for CONTESTS, which have absolutely zero relevance outside of an official NAR contest event. And the rule you quoted (from 36.1 and cloned in 38.1) related only to boost gliders in the actual boost glide (rule 36) and flex-wing boost glide (rule 38) events. Not other events where one might use a "boost glider" for whatever reason (like say, scale), long as those other events did not prevent glide recovery.

Nobody should ever try to use the Pink Book contest rules as justification to limit/prevent anything that involves Sport flying.

Let me repeat that, as this is definitely not the first time someone has mistakenly thought of the Pink Book as a thicker version of the Safety Code when it comes to Sport flying:

Nobody should ever try to use the Pink Book contest rules as justification to limit/prevent anything that involves Sport flying.

This is also why the R/C code is not called the Rocket Glider Code, or the Boost Glider Code. In the sport flying world, nobody cares what the Pink Book technically defines as a B/G or R/G. So Rocket Boosted Glider (RBG) covers all the bases, regardless of what a person might choose to call an R/C Glider model, and regardless of whether parts do (safely) or do not come off in flight.

Now if one wanted to sport fly a White Knight and Space Ship One, they could do it as a model airplane by using model airplane engine driven ducted fans (or props) in the White Knight. Ought to be OK at most model airplane sites, other than some who might get all excited over a fire starting in case of a crash (maybe at some California sites and some states during burn bans).

Could that be flown at a rocket launch? Well, if the field was OK for model airplane flights, it should (assuming some safe area to take off and land on). If “model planes” were not allowed at a rocket launch, then the White Knight would have to be rocket boosted, and launched within 45 degrees of vertical (really a PITA to do that though, given the resulting thrustlines and cluster risks).

Unfortunately Pink Book wise even with the White Knight being rocket boosted would not be OK for scale. Nothing to do with air-starting, or glider, or R/C, but rule 5.5 about “the launcher” not providing additional velocity not provided by the model’s own engine*, since in this case the launcher would not be the pad on the ground but the flying White Knight model itself (now if the real White Knight was rocket powered, that would make it the first stage of a 2-stage vehicle, so then it would avoid that “launcher” rule. That would also then mean the White Knight would be judged as part of the whole flying scale entry. As just “a launcher” the White Knight would not be static judged, though it would count for something among the “Mission Points” as would the air-start itself.).

- George Gassaway

* - 5.5 Momentum
A launcher must not impart to the model any velocity or change of momentum except that caused by the model rocket motor(s) contained in the model.
 

George Gassaway

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Havoc821 wrote:

>>>>>
To keep simplicity down, SSO and WK ould not have ailerons.
<<<<<

You’ll need to use something, either ailerons or elevons to control them in roll. They do not seem to have adequate dihedral effect to be able to use rudder to steer with. And I say that as a guy who highly prefers rudder control over aileron or elevon control if rudder control can do it.

Now technically I think SS1 does not use ailerons, the horizontal tail surfaces control in the manner of elevons. So if you are going to use one servo per horizontal stab you can do elevon type control if you have electronic mixing available. BTW, the X-15 did not have ailerons, its horizontal (well, they were bent down) provided both roll and pitch control.

Also the White Knight may not use ailerons. I think those twin booms with their own separate horizontal tail surfaces act to produce roll in addition to pitch. I can’t say I’m 100% sure on that though, but there have been some twin-boom aircraft that have used the twin horizontal stabs for elevon-like control. OK, sometimes that sort of control is called “ailevators”, but if you have a computerized Tx, you probably won’t find ailevators in the menu, but you will find elevons which is for all practical purposes the same thing for mixing the servos.

>>>>
Water for nose ballast in a RC model? Disaster waiting to happen.
<<<<<

My X-1 and SkyBooster for the Orbital SkyDart use water ballast (took the idea from an Me-163 Komet I saw in R/C Modeler in the early 90’s, though that one used a water-filled balloon and I use gravity-feed). Water starts dumping at liftoff. Very simple, don’t even know it’s happening in-flight, it is automatic. The only problems would be to forget to add the water before liftoff, or to have a slow leak in the pull-plug interface that let too much water out before liftoff (Another would be if the pull-plug interface was sticky, so it jammed on liftoff. I did some designing and tweaking to assure that does not happen, but that is definitely a detail to pay good attention to so it will operate and release properly). Both of those models I’ve used it with had so much propellant mass in the back that I had to do something to account for the CG due to the burned away propellant mass. If the CG was set right for glide, they would have been way tail-heavy at liftoff (either unstable or very touchy in pitch). If the CG was right for liftoff, they would have been way nose heavy in glide.

I do not do the water ballast trick with my 2X SkyDart, but indeed I have had to use a compromise that leaves it a bit sensitive on liftoff and a bit nose heavy for glide. If I ever make a larger SkyDart (like 2.6” or 3” tubing), I will add water ballast to it.

Links to the X-1 and Orbital SkyDart pages:

https://members.aol.com/GCGassaway/X1.htm

https://members.aol.com/RBGliders/OSP/OSP.htm

>>>>
I would definatly make smaller models to test first before the powered flight. I would also do drop glide test from WK before I ever made a powered flight.
<<<<<

Something like this definitely is a good thing to try out in small scale first, even if very crudely. I made a 1/3 scale model of the Orbital SkyDart to work out several things. Such as the glide CG (and elevon position) for the Sky Booster, whether it would boost stably at the chosen CG position, and whether it would all glide down OK if the SkyDart did not stage. See the Orbital SkyDart Project (OSP) link above.

- George Gassaway
 
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