TSM June 2001 Launch Notes
The May 27th launch weekend was a meteorological nightmare; at least that is how we rocket fanatics judge things- rain, wind, and the ever-gloomy low cloud ceiling. The launch was postponed to Sunday, only to see more of the same. We sipped coffee and traded rocket lies over fast food, but eventually had to cancel our last window for the month of May as well. The week prior to our June 24th scheduled launch was accompanied again by two or three additional heavy rainstorms. Despite that, the field of the Maple Island Missile Range were surprisingly dry and in rather good shape. It was definitely soft, but not muddy. Early AM clouds and the threat of rain, kept a few flyers at home, but the hearty were rewarded by some fabulous clear mid afternoon skies, relatively little wind by Minnesota standards, and some of the overall best flying that we have experienced ever on our range. Here are some of the highlights.
A total of 45 flights were logged with four successful level one certifications and one successful level three flight. Flights were powered with everything from A-8-3's to an M1315 engine. Many great flights filled the day, and relatively few mishaps were observed. The rocket gods must have been happy and smiling on the bunch from TSM.
Successful level one certs were obtained by Craig Knippel, Dan Braam, Patrick Sween, and Gary Brown. Craig Knippel flew his nice green Rocketman Preying Mantis to level one success using an I-357 reload. Dan Braam returned to have a successful flight of his PMLExplorer using an H-128-Medium 29-mm reload. It was recovered in excellent condition across the creek (which is now quite crossable thanks to our recently engineered and deployed scaffolding bridge - Even a klutz like your reporter can now cross the creek in assured dryness and safety). Patrick Sween completed a nice flight of his modified LOC Norad to capture the level one rating. Finally, Gary Brown flew his PML Tethys on an H-180 reload. Your launch reporter witnessed and supervised his reload assembly. It escaped both Gary and I that he had placed a 15-second delay in a 4" diameter kit. We all held our breath on that long delay. The well-built bird held together without a zipper to earn Gary his level one certification, whew!
Team BHR (that's the Minnesota Big Honkin' Rocket for you uninformed folks) conducted a much anticipated drag race of the two sustainer stages using K550 reloads. All I can say is WOW!!!! The birds ripped off the pads in rapid succession. Slight body damage occurred on BHR stage three following a nosecone separation and early main deployment at apogee. Stage 2 came in on its drogue chute only due to a loose wire on the main charge, but suffered only relatively minor damage. Thank heavens for soft fields! Despite this, the BHR "K" sustainer drag race was absolutely fantastic. I cannot wait to see the whole three-staged BHR stacked, racked, and ready for launch. UPDATE: BHR flies in 3 stage configuration at North Branch on July 8, 2000!
Ron Freiheit was back in action with his Altitude Junkie, this time boosting it on that long burn K185. The flight boosted to just under 11,000 feet, right on up into a big old patch of open blue sky, trailing clean white smoke all the way. We all kept straining our eyes to see it returning. Of course we all were looking the wrong direction. One of the spectators thought she saw an orange spot land way over in the north cornfield. One check of the Walston locator confirmed that to be correct. Ron recovered the Altitude Junkie to fly again. How much higher next time Ron?
Then finally came the much anticipated "M Flight". Dan Gates flew his monster one-third scale Honest John on an M1315 reload for level three certification. This was truly amazing. Working like a maniac to prep the beast before the waiver closed, Dan and crew pumped it up on the mammoth rail with just minutes to spare (at least by the official timekeeper). One push of the button, those agonizing seconds while the huge core pressurized, and the AP roared to life. The Honest John belched smoke, threw a five foot flame, and lifted from the pad majestically. Accelerating to an altitude of over 5800 feet the bird whistled as that warhead shaped nosecone tore through the atmosphere- Awesome!!! The deployment was perfect and descent and smooth on four fully functional chutes. Nice level three flight Dan. The booster section of his Honest John level three project will serve as he booster for the completed BHR in its upcoming three stage flight.
It was one satisfying, complete, and full day of flying. Many excellent flights were completed and a great time was had by all.
Andy Limper; TRA 6517
For additions or corrections: Andy Limper