4/24/10 Mansfield HPR Launch

Posted: 28th April 2010 by gbrandt in First Nations Launch, Hot Rockets
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Busy! Busy! We’ve been preparing for the First Nations Tribal launch this weekend, April 30 – May 2. We’ve been trying to raise money, trying to get our rockets built and trying to get a flight or two in just to see if the rockets work.

We spent last weekend on a road trip to Mansfield, WA for a rocket launch with the Washington Aerospace Club. Friday we drove and spent the night at Dave O’s brother and sister-in-law’s home in Omak. She fed us dinner and breakfast, and provided us with food and snacks for Saturday. We awakened, ate, ran through some preliminary rocket stuff and were on the road by 7:45 for an hour trip to Mansfield, or so we thought. Let me tell ya, Dave is an excellent driver, a wonderful cook, and a marginal navigator. We ended up on a dirt road that ran through beautiful country, abandoned farms, and gave some of us a weird sense of the movie “Deliverance”. Talia’s GPS had the dots alternately converging and diverging, which wasn’t too reassuring. 

We finally arrived at Mansfield and began preparing Gary’s rocket, Ariel, for launch. Gary needed to fly first so that, if successful, he would be certified and the others could launch using his certification. The wind began picking up, not a good sign. After much nervous motor assembly, rocket preparation, a safety review, filling out the flight control sheet, and questioning by the Range Safety Officer and the Launch Control Officer, Ariel was placed on the launch rail, the igniter inserted and connected to the launch control box, we began the walk back to the launch control area. The launch rail is about 200 feet away from the launch control area. 

A few more words and the countdown began: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and liftoff! Ariel ignited and quickly left the launch rail in a very straight flight up to about 2000 feet. It then arced over and the parachute deployed and then the long descent began. We had to go about 1/4 mile to retrieve the rocket. It landed with no damage and Gary’s Level 1 National Association of Rocketry Certification became a fact. 

Mariya was next up. She assembled the motor and was just about to go to the launch rail when the wind, which had been steadily building to 20 kts steady with gusts in the 30kt range, forced the launch range to be closed. We hung around until 4:00 when the Launch Control Officer abandoned the day’s (and it turned out, the weekend’s) launch. Kyle, Mariya, Michael, and Talia were big helps in assisting the crew disassemble the ground support equipment, help others with tent take downs and in general, sprucing up the place. 

An uneventful return trip saw us in Bellingham by 9:30. So lots of driving for about 12 seconds of rocket flight. Rats! Gary was probably the most disappointed; however, all of the students said that they learned a lot and enjoyed interacting with the other rocket folks.

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