Physics Rocket Class Started

Posted: 7th July 2011 by gbrandt in Uncategorized
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Physics 111, Learning about Things (mostly the physics of rockets) class stared on 7/5/11. We’ll be uploading photos and videos of student rocket projects. The first week has ended with several very successful air rocket flights, including one with a streamer recovery system, which, unfortunately, is now residing on the roof of one of the buildings. 🙁

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We just received our National Association of Rocketry Charter. We are #730

2011 First Nations Rocket Launch Results are in!

Posted: 15th June 2011 by gbrandt in News
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The scores say it all!!

AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)
1st Place = University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC) 616.07points
2nd Place = Azusa Pacific 444.45pts
3rd Place = Haskell Indian Nations University – Ghost Spears 369.2pts

 Tribal College ranking is as follows:
1st Place = Northwest Indian College 680.85pts
2nd Place = Fon Du Lac Tribal and Community College 462.79pts
3rd Place = Haskell Indian Nations University – Space Eagles 398.1pts
4th Place = Navajo Technical College – Cloud 9 386.57pts
5th Place = Navajo Technical College – Elegant Gale 153.4pts

NWIC USLI Final Score

Posted: 25th May 2011 by Silent Renegade in Documents, General, News
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Milwaukee Trip…

Posted: 11th May 2011 by Silent Renegade in Uncategorized
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We came, we saw, we had lots of fun and we came home with a First Place in the Altitude Prediction portion of the First Nations Launch Competition and Mariya earned her National Association of Rocketry Level 2 certification, a feat not accomplished by many.

Getting up and organized for the 5:00 am flight on Thursday was an exciting event in itself. We stopped at Seatac, Chicago, and finally arrived in Milwaukee at 6:30 Central time. The team did a quick run through of their presentation that was to take place on Friday about 1:30.

Friday saw some opening introductions and the presentations by the eight teams. We were second to present. Needless to say, the team did an outstanding job. They knew the topic, they presented the information in a relaxed, yet professional manner, and they covered all of the items that the reviewers and judges wanted covered. I am certain that we were the best of the bunch.

Our rocket, Sad Tibbers, was examined for the required safety inspection and passed with flying colors. Several teams were still completing their rockets. A pizza dinner was followed by the team heading off to do various activities, swimming, hanging out, or whatever. Several helped the other teams get their rockets ready.

Saturday was cold, a bit breezy, and mostly overcast. We had volunteered to launch first as part of our game plan to set the bar high for the rest of the participants. We were quite confident of our rocket and its abilities. The rocket was assembled, the science experiments setup and turned on, the parachutes packed, the altimeters set, the explosive charges built and installed, and the motor installed.

Then the looooong walk out to the launch pad. Sad Tibbers was placed on the launch pad, Kyle removed the altimeter safety interlocks and armed the altimeters, and Mariya installed the igniter.

We then took the walk back to the safe area and watched as the Launch Control Officer announced our flight and did the countdown. Sad Tibbers rose into the sky on a tail of red flame and flew to an altitude of 3024 feet.

We predicted 3330 feet and were within 91% of our estimate. That was good enough for us to place first in the altitude prediction portion of the competition. Our rocket performed flawlessly; its drogue parachute ejected at apogee and the main parachute ejected 700 feet above ground to bring it safely and slowly to ground.

We have a GPS tracker in the rocket which helps us locate it when it’s on the ground and out of sight. Sad Tibbers landed about 650 yards from the launch area and as we were where walking to it, the GPS unit showed it moving!?! When we reached it, there were several hunters who had picked it up and moved it to the road so that we could find it easier. Thanks to them.

A great adventure! A great opportunity to meet other Tribal College Students and seven other teams from Navajo Technical College (2 teams), Haskel Indians Nation University, Fon Du Lac Technical Community College, and three AISES teams, University of Minnesota, Azusa Pacific University, and a second Haskel AISES team, eight teams in all.

We all feel that we should place quite highly in this event. We won’t know until early June because we have one more report to write and turn in and get evaluated.

Frankenrocket Flew Successfully!

Posted: 5th December 2010 by gbrandt in Uncategorized
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We launched our USLI rocket, Frankenrocket, today and it flew very well. Also, Thomas and Krissy launched their rockets in a NAR L1 attempt. Krissy’s flew superbly while Thomas’s payload bulkhead became detached and the payload and nose cone were lost. Here is a quick video of Thomas’s lauch and Frankenrocket’s flight.

10-2-10 Launch Videos

Posted: 25th October 2010 by gbrandt in Uncategorized
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YouTube Preview Image Finally! Some shots from our first launch.

YouTube Preview ImageThe physics class had two successful parachute recoveries as well as the usual lawn dart recovery. Both Terry’s and Krissy’s performed as planned.

NWIC’s First Public Launch at the Launch Complex

Posted: 7th October 2010 by gbrandt in Uncategorized

October 2, 2010 – Saturday arrived warm, windless, and high clouds, (or so we thought!) for our first NWIC Space Center rocket launch at our new Launch Complex. The Space Center folks setup the ground support equipment that included the high powered rocket launch pad and the electronics to launch the rockets. We also setup a water rocket launch area for any of the younger set that attended.

The United States and Canadian aviation authorities were notified as required and we were set to go. Gordon was first to prepare his rocket. This was to be his attempt at earning a National Association of Rocketry Level 1 Certification. Several of us made certain that all was right with his motor, his parachute, and the rest of his recovery system. Then the final steps began: the long walk to the launch pad, sliding his rocket, a LOC Precision HiTech 45, onto the launch rail, installing the igniter, and the long walk back to the launch control box. 

The range was closed, the sky checked for aircraft, the observers given a heads up, and then the countdown began. 5…4…3…2…1…launch! The igniter did its job and Gordon’s rocket began to rise with a roar. However, things didn’t go as expected. A rubber seal failed (more about this later) and the burning motor exhaust went forward into the rocket setting it on fire. It went about fifteen feet into the air and tumbled to the ground in flames. 

The recovery crew ran over to it with the fire extinguisher and doused anything that was smoldering. The fire training In Service we had several weeks ago paid off! 

Next up was Mariya’s LOC Precision HiTech 45, named Mortimer. Mortimer ignited and threw itself into the sky on a tail of yellow flame. It flew higher that it was supposed to and momentarily went into the clouds. A few seconds later Mortimer was spotted drifting lazily down on its parachute and landed about 20 yards from the launch pad. 

Next was Mike’ D-Region Tomahawk. It also flew beautifully and came down in two pieces because one of the retaining knots in the recovery system let loose. The nose and parachute landed about 100 yards from the rest of the airframe. Both pieces were recovered successfully. 

Dave’s Patriot, High Caliber, had two misfires. Later inspection found that the misfires  were a result of using the damaged motor casing from Gordon’s flaming rocket. It was 12:00 pm and we had to shut down the range and notify the appropriate authorities that operations had ceased. 

So, what happened to Gordon’s and Dave’s rockets? Remember the space shuttle, Challenger and it explosion because of a bad seal? Our rocket motors use the same fuel as the shuttle’s boosters and we had a seal fail too. The failure could have been a defective one, or, it could have been human error on our part by not having it seated properly. Regardless, exhaust gases bypassed the seal and entered the rocket’s airframe and set it afire.

What we didn’t notice after examining the engine is that the 1/16 hole in the aluminum forward closure that allows the black powder ejection charge to ignite, had been enlarged by the back-firing exhaust from Gordon’s flight to about ½ inch. This permitted some of the black powder to seep into the main combustion chamber and ignite before the main motor could ignite and therefore ejected the rocket’s recovery system without igniting the motor.  

This past Thursday, Mariya, Mike, Dave O, Justin, Gary, Gordon, and Joel took a road trip to the University of Washington to attend the Washington State Space Grant Consortium reception. The student’s poster looked great! Dr. Winglee, the Space Grant Director, and his staff paid a great deal of attention to our students and the Space Center was mentioned twice in his speech at the reception. I felt very honored at the recognition our students received. 

And, the proposal for the University Student Launch Initiative competition was submitted on Friday, October 1. We’ll hear on 10/12 whether or not we’ve been accepted as part of the competition.

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Setting Up the Launch Rail

Setting Up the Launch Rail

Last week Dave and Gary started to mow the Northwest Indian College Space Center Launch Complex. It’s located near the old blockhouse site on the extension of Kwina Road after it intersects with Hillaire Road. It took two days of mowing the tall grass, black berries, and smallish trees with the College’s Billy Goat brush whacker. About 1/3 acre was cleared.

On Friday, FAA and Canadian Aviation Agency permissions were obtained for a launch on Sunday, September 5. At 8:00 am on the 5th, Gary, Shelley, Lars, Niels, and Leif (Shelley’s cousins that were visiting from Sweden) set up the ground support equipment to do a launch. The principle purpose behind the launch was to test communications with various aviation agencies, test the launch rail and control box, and test the operating procedures for launching and recovering the rockets.

The weather was overcast with light winds blowing from 1-5 knots from the Southwest. We launched a model rocket first to test the winds at altitude and recovery strategy. The rocket flew to a measured altitude (on-board altimeter) of 561 feet and drifted about 100 yards to the South and landed in very tall grass. Shelley’s cousins are all well over six feet tall and that height was very useful in directing Nils to the landing area. The rocket was successfully recovered and the launch pad was adjusted to compensate for the wind.

Shelley contacted Bellingham and Victoria Air Traffic Control Centers the appropriate 5-10 minutes prior to launch to receive clearance. We then launched BOB, a mid-power rocket that carried a camera and altimeter and had an F motor. It flew about 1000 feet, the altimeter and camera both malfunctioned and it took about 15 minutes to recover it.

Our next flight was with Ariel, the black and red rocket that many of you have seen. Shelley received permission from Bellingham and Victoria to launch and Ariel roared into the sky on an H motor. The altimeter recorded 1452 feet, speed – 204 mph, and 65 g’s of acceleration (if you weighed 100 pounds, you would have weight 6500 pounds at peak acceleration, and of course you’d have been a puddle at those forces!). Recovery was about 300 feet from the launch pad, and again the camera didn’t work!

We closed up shop, notified the appropriate agencies and called it a very successful day. Everything worked as we hoped that it would. Recovery will require some form of visual signaling as well as working 2-way radios and audible alarms fastened to the rockets.

We hope to have an opening ceremony that will include launching one or more rockets in early October. We want to include the College as well as tribal members as part of the introduction to the Northwest Indian College Space Center Launch Complex.

On September 25-26 Dave will be taking several students to Mansfield, WA so that he and they can attempt to earn the Level 2 Certifications. This will permit us to purchase and fly the larger rocket motors that we will need for our NASA project and competition. 

A video and slide show are here.