Huntsville Successes!

We returned from the USLI Launch at Huntsville with a very tired but happy crew. Our rocket flew beautifully to an altitude of 4,830 feet; shy of the 5,280 foot target, but a beautiful and straight flight non the less.

We’ll post pictures soon!

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Test 2, Skybolt – Interesting Success/Failure

February 4, 2012, a clear 45 degree day in the Pacific Northwest, saw Skybolt fly her second test flight. A weighing error resulted in an altitude that was 1500 feet higher than predicted. A malfuntioning altimeter had no effect because of a 2nd error, but it fired the main charge at 1500 feet rather than the programmed 700 feet. That is the second time that this altimeter has done this. It’s being trashed and/or sent back to the manufacturer. The 2nd error was that the main was jammed into the parachute bay, which meant that it didn’t deploy. This, in fact, was fortunate. Winds at altitude carried the rocket a long distance to the west toward the ocean. Had the main deployed, the rocket surely would have landed somewhere in the Straits of Georgia.

Our GPS told us where it was; however, because of the wetlands, the semi-flooded areas, the streams and rivers, we had a heck of a time recovering it. After running around in blackberrys, wet ground, and fording streams, we finally recovered it nearly six hours after the launch, and nearly three hours after making visual contact. All was in good shape, not even wet!

It landed with the fin can upright in the soft mud on a 12x12x12 penninsula at the junction of a stream and a small river. Pictures are in the gallery as well as a video launch here.

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Skybolt Finally Launched!

Saturday, January 28, 2012, was cold and grey but had very little wind and very little rain. We prepared Skybolt for a low level launch which we predicted would be about 1500 feet. We used a CTI J330 38mm motor and a Aeropack 38-54 motor adapter.

The rocket launched straight and true and flew to 1589 feet. Altimeter 1 fired the drogue followed by Altimeter 2’s drogue and main! The chutes got tangled but Skybolt decended at a slow enough rate so that there was no damage to anything.

The ebay and altitmeters are currently being tested to see if we can ascertain why the Altimeter #2 fired the main at 1500′. Launch video here.

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On Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 11:00 am PST Team SkyWalkers gave their first live presentation to the USLI team. From an outside observer’s perspective, it went quite well. The team presented the information well; they presented themselves well, and they responded to questions adequately.

Friday, December 9, 2011 saw six team members conduct a poster session for NASA’s Future Forum at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. We received a photo-op with Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator as well.

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Successful Subscale Launch

On a frigid (39 degrees) Saturday moning on November 12, the Skywalkers team successfuly launched their subscale rocket. It was a dual deploy 54mm diameter rocket that used an Aerotech G-80 motor to ascend to a little over 1200 feet. Recovery was successful.

We were trying for a horizontal recovery and this didn’t work as we had hoped for. So we have now decided to do a more convential recovery for our full scale rocket.

The data recovered from our altimeter, the PerfectFlight MAWD, showed an anomally, probably a leak from the drogue ejection charge, that showed up as a high pressure spike in the altimeter data. Steps are being taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

Pictures have been added to the Scale Rocket Gallery and here is a video of the launch.


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We’re In!

We were just notified that your proposal for then 2011-2012 University Student Launch Initiative was accepted. Along with Northwest Indian College are 41 other institutions. They are:

Alabama A&M University –  Normal, AL
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, CA
Clark College – Vancouver, WA
Fisk University – Nashville, TN
Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, FL
Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, GA
Harvey Mudd College – Claremont, CA
Haskell Indian Nations University – Lawrence, KS
Iowa State University – Ames, IA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, MA
Mississippi State University – Starkville, MS
Missouri University of Science & Technology – Rolla, MO
New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, NM
North Carolina State University – Raleigh, NC
Northwest Indian College – Bellingham, WA
Pennsylvania State University – University Park, PA
Purdue University – Lafayette, IN
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Troy, NY
Saint Louis University – St. Louis, MO
Santa Fe College – Gainesville, FL
Tuskegee University – Tuskegee, AL
University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL
University of Alabama in Huntsville – Huntsville, AL
University of Alaska – Fairbanks, AK
University of Central Florida – Orlando, FL
University of Colorado – Boulder, CO
University of Evansville – Evansville, IN
University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
University of Louisville – Louisville, KY
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN
University of Nebraska – Lincoln, NE
University of North Carolina – Charlotte, NC
University of North Dakota – Grand Forks, ND
University of Notre Dame – South Bend, IN
University of South Alabama – Mobile, AL
University of Washington – Seattle, WA
Utah State University – Logan, UT
Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – Blacksburg, VA
Windward Community College – Kaneohe, HI

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The Early Days of NWIC Space Center

What started out as a tongue-in-cheek classroom activity in November of 2009 has turned into a powerful learning opportunity for Northwest Indian College students. 

Rockets! Rockets? That was a topic of interest for a couple of students, Justin and Robert, while sitting in Gary’s classroom after the day’s classes. “What can we do with our electronics, computer, and robotics knowledge?”, they mused. One of them suggested rockets and an Internet search quickly demonstrated that that would be an expensive route. They persisted and discovered air/water powered rockets. Recycled soda pop bottles, tire pump, a few feet of ½ inch PVC and we’d be in business. 

Justin assembled a launch pad and Gary scouted out the neighborhood recycling bins for 2 liter bottles. A couple of days later we were launching bottles into the air in front of the classroom. Naturally, we attracted a slew of onlookers and well-wishers. We publicized and held weekly launches over the lunch hour that were enthusiastically attended by students as well as the college’s employees.

We quickly realized that there is much more to these rockets than filling with water, pressurizing with air and launching them. Stability, gentle recovery, and re-use ability are key if one wants to do any sort of altitude research, most efficient water/air proportions, amount of air pressure, etc. Did we mention math, materials research, Internet research, aerodynamics, or physics? All of these came into play as we, (by know we added five more students), became more “serious” about how to get them higher and faster. We learned that the current record (2009) for a water/air pressurized rocket is 2,024 feet. Our best altitude to date is 454 feet. We’ve a ways to go! 

One of the Internet websites needed and organizational name as part of the registration process. We decided to register ourselves as the Northwest Indian College Space Center. That’s how we got started; but it was just the beginning!

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Sky Walkers Is The New Team Name

The team members voted and Sky Walkers came out on top.

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Team Participated in Washington Space Grant Consortium

The team presented a poster at the WSGC annual reception.  It was team member Buffy’s  first real poster presentation, quite different from the ones here at NWIC.  It was impressive with 52 different research areas being presented.

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Proposal Submitted

NWIC Space Center submitted its USLI proposal. We will hear whether or not we were accepted on October 15, 2011.

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