Each flight log entry usually
represents a launch or test day, and describes the
events that took place.
Click on an image to view a larger image, and
browser's BACK button to return back to the
Day 152 - Mullaley Launch Site and Siding Spring
Siding Spring Observatory NSW, Australia
Conditions:Clear skies, light - moderate winds 5km/h
early, 15km/h later,
Team Members at Event:GK
following update covers a 4-day, 3-night road trip to NSWRA's
new High Power launch site. Unfortunately at the time dad and
mum were on a road trip in the opposite direction and the kids
had tickets to a games expo so I had the radio controls in the
car all to myself. Dad and I spent a couple of weeks preparing
the Axion G2 rocket, boosters and launcher for this launch
opportunity as Whalan Reserve is a little too small for an
untested and potentially wayward rocket.
Axion G2 vs Polaron G2
With the car fully loaded with equipment I drove to
Coonabarabran from Sydney - about a 6-hour, 480km (300mile)
drive. The drive was great and the roads are in good shape.
4th October 2014 - Siding Spring Observatory
Several months ago NSWRA was invited to the
Siding Spring Observatory open day, to have a stand and
give demonstrations. As it turns out the observatory is just up
the road from the launch site (~100km) so the club decided to combine
the launch with a visit to the observatory. We had a small stand
set up on the day and had quite a few chats with the public
about all things rocketry. What was really cool though was having a look at the
huge telescopes and equipment used at the observatory that the
public normally doesn't get to see. It was
well worth the visit.
NSWRA stand at
Siding Spring Observatory
Volcanic rocket formation near
Robot that places fiberoptic
the star field that then feeds
star light to the spectrometers.
View from the main telescope
5th October 2014 - Mullaley
Early next morning with beautiful blue skies and almost no
wind I drove to the launch site and met up with the other club
members there. We are very grateful to the farmer for allowing us
to launch from his property. I believe he used to fly rockets at
one stage as well. The launch site itself is fantastic with wide
Without dad and the kids there, it took about an hour and a
half to set up camp, equipment and launch gear. The Axion G2
rocket was going to be flown first.
Driving to Mullaley
Gotta love those wide open
Setting up at the new launch
Flight #1 - Axion G2
Setup was straight forward, with each booster filled with
2.1L of water and the main stage filled with 2.3L with foam. The
booster parachutes in this configuration are attached to the
side of each booster, but in the final configuration these
will be located in the gaps between the booster segments for
Ready to go ... just need some
All was going well as we pressurised the rocket, however, as
pressure came up past 140psi, a leak in the main stage
nozzle developed, but with enough pressure in the rocket I
continued to fill until reaching about 180psi (12.4bar). At this stage I
decided to launch because I didn't want to loose too much more
water from the main stage. The launch was nice and quick and all
the boosters remained attached until burnout. The sustainer
continued to power upwards and reached an apogee of 794 feet
(242m). The parachute delay was set at 8 seconds which was just
right and the chute deployed just past apogee. The rocket and
boosters all landed safely.
This was a good test because it showed that the rocket could
be released simultaneously at the higher pressures from the
launcher. Also the booster retaining mechanism worked as planned
without bending any of the loops or pins.
Rockets are easy to find
794 feet above the paddock.
Just before burnout
The leak was traced to the nozzle washer which is really
narrow and so I replaced it with a wider one. Under pressure it
was probably forced out.
The narrow washer was replaced
with the wider washer.
Flight #2 - Axion G2
The rocket was set up again on the pad. I had to tighten the
booster clamps a little bit because it looks like they had very
slightly stretched after the rocket was pressurised. It was only
a couple of turns of the screws though.
This time the nozzle seal held as it got up to 200psi
The launch was quick again, but it was very quickly evident that
something didn't go quite right as one of the boosters peeled off early. The main stage and two remaining boosters
continued to power upwards although now slightly arced over due
the asymmetric thrust and some weathercocking. As the remaining boosters separated at a
higher angle of attack, one of them came off sideways and
broke off a fin. The rocket still continued to be mostly stable and
flew up to 789 feet (240m). Although the rocket was flown at a
higher pressure than the first launch, with the loss of the
booster and the resulting higher drag due to the induced AOA and
loss of the fin made it fly to a lower altitude. All boosters
and the sustainer landed safely under parachute.
At first I thought that perhaps the parachute deployed early
on the booster and pulled it away from the main stage, but on
video review it was evident that it had separated on launch.
This would be due to the booster being held slightly longer than
the main stage. We always considered this to be a possible
failure mode and so I wasn't too surprised to see it. When we
did the initial synchronization tests and flights on
Day 146 the
main stage was released considerably later than the
boosters to have a better safety margin. We made this delay
shorter for these high pressure flights in order to keep the
stresses on the main nozzle to a minimum. In this case I guess
the safety margin was too narrow as it worked fine on the first
launch, but not on the second. We can easily increase the delay on the main stage
another 2-4ms to make sure the main stage leaves last.
It wasn't until I was back home and reviewed the video from a
camera looking back at the rocket that showed something I didn't
see from the launch position. This time one of the booster
nozzle seals had developed a leak and drained about half of the
water from the booster before launch. These nozzles use the same
narrow washers, so we'll replace all of them with wider ones.
But again this was a good full pressure test of the rocket and
boosters. Despite the mishap on the second launch, we are a lot
more confident in the launcher and rocket to continue
development of the full scale Polaron G2 rocket. We now also
know that the rocket behaves reasonably well with only two boosters.
I think the pitching over would be worse if the main stage
wasn't firing at the time like in a two stage rocket.
more details about the rocket and the
Flight #3 - Waterless
Earlier I had bought a couple of G80-10T motors because I
wanted to fly my "Waterless" (LOC precision Weasel) pyro rocket. I could fly it at
Whalan but only on smaller motors. The G80s are the largest
motors I can buy so it was a good opportunity to see how
high we can send the rocket. The rocket took off nicely and went
very high. Several years ago I fitted this rocket with a sled
that can hold one of the old MD80 cameras. So for this flight I
had put the old camera in. I did not add an altimeter because I
wanted to see how the rocket went first on this motor. I didn't
want to loose the camera and altimeter.
The rocket went really high and landed safely back on the
field. The camera only captured useful video on the way
up, as when the ejection charge fired, the sled moved up
slightly inside the airframe and blocked the view. All in all we
got good video and I was happy to get everything back in one
Flight #4 - Axion G5
With a separated fin on the Axion G2 sustainer, I decided not to
spend time repairing it in the field, but instead assembled a
rocket out of 3 reinforced spliced quads and added a light
weight set of fins from another rocket. I also fitted it with a
normal plastic 9mm nozzle. The rocket was filled with 2.5 liters
of water and
Pressurised to 200psi the rocket flew up well with a nice
foam trail. It reached 783 feet (238 m) before opening its
parachute and gently landing back in the field. The reason this rocket went almost as high as the boosted
flights was because it had a higher capacity, flew as designed
and didn't have the weight and drag penalty of the booster
retention mechanisms. Had the boosted flights flown properly at
the same pressure and capacity they would have gone higher.
Pressurised to 200psi
Lots of splashing going on
The wind started picking up a little more in the afternoon so
I decided to pack up and head back to the motel 50km away. It
isn't a good idea to travel at dusk or night in the outback due
to the wildlife. On the entire road trip I would have seen a few
dozen dead kangaroos.
6th October 2014 - Mullaley
In the morning I went out to the launch site again to meet up
with David and give Norm a hand with his hybrid. Norm used our
scuba tank to help pressurise what was left of his nitrous
helping it condense more so he could get it into the rocket.
Unfortunately there wasn't enough Nitrous left and by the time
the rocket ignited it only made it a few meters into the air. No
doubt this rocket will fly again soon. It should be pretty
Flight #5 - Waterless
David flew his MPR rocket once and I tried putting up
"Waterless" on a G80-10T again. Two separate Estes Pro
Series Sonic igniters failed
to fire the rocket, so I tried one of David's special igniters,
and the motor again almost lit but spat the igniter out. Blue
Thunder propellant is supposed to be easy to ignite! So Norm
made up a nichrome wire igniter that was bound to get it going.
Nope, again the motor came close to firing and just spat the
igniter out. I was ready to pack it up, but decided to give it
another go. Norm kindly made up another nichrome igniter, and I
scraped the inside of the motor with an unfolded paper clip to
expose a fresh surface on the propellant.
This time the motor lit, and the rocket went up straight as
an arrow. We lost sight of it soon after burnout and then later
finally saw the tracking smoke near apogee and could barely make
out the small orange chute. The rocket landed back on the open
field about 0.5km away. Retrieving the rocket I could see that
the camera was still looking out the window and recording.
The altimeter showed that we now have a new personal best
altitude of 3,321 feet (1,012m) with a model rocket.
Sled for camera
The rocket got out of there
View from 3,300 feet
New altitude PB.
Packing up on the last day
After that we packed up and headed back
home. It was a great weekend, and I'm
looking forward to heading up there again
with family and other club members.
Here is a video of the Axion
G5 and the two "Waterless" flights from the weekend: