Stratofox participated in AeroPac's
test launch of the To100K rocket on August 5, 2005.
The launch took place at AeroPac's "Aeronaut" high-power rocketry launch meet,
which took place August 4-7.
As a club project of AeroPac, To100K was the largest of
hundreds of rockets that members brought to launch in the desert.
It's intended to break 100,000' altitude, which has never been done
with commercial hobby motors.
The inspiration for To100K is that AeroPac always gets a 100,000' airspace
waiver at Black Rock anyway - members believe it's now possible to use the
whole thing so it's time to do so.
If we can get video or still pictures, the curvature of the Earth will
be clearly visible from that altitude. (As a rule of thumb, you can see
the curvature above 60,000'. The view gets better the higher you go.)
The To100K project was only doing a test launch of the rocket to 25,000'
The result of this test was mixed.
The booster (1st stage) performed flawlessly.
The sustainer (2nd stage) drogue chute
failed to deploy, leaving a small debris field to pick up.
That was later traced to preparation errors. It appears all the
equipment does work as designed, even at high altitude. There is a
spare airframe from which a new sustainer will be built for another try at
AeroPAC's XPRS in late September.
Stratofox didn't have as much of an opportunity to help with tracking and
recovery because of the debris falling close enough to the launch site
to be seen in the distance from the tops of RVs.
However, when we come to help, we intend to help.
We were able to make these contributions to the effort...
- After some To100K team members raced to the first visible piece of
debris, Stratofox member Ian Kluft KO6YQ and visiting participant
Martin Hemphill of Taipei, Taiwan
made a mobile binocular sweep to identify the total area of the debris field.
- Stratofox has found that after all the work one puts into building a
large rocket, it's Human nature for at least some of the rocket's builders
to run to recover it without taking water or drinks.
Stratofox has learned
that safety of searchers is part of our role and we need to be ready for this.
We had more than enough cold drinks
on hand for everyone in the search area who needed them.
- To100K team member Erik Ebert noticed that a transmitter he contributed
to the rocket did not come back with the debris. It was a late addition
and wasn't among the frequencies that Stratofox members were informed to
monitor. Once we got the frequency, we noticed it was transmitting but
could only be heard in the debris search area, but not at the AeroPac flight
line less than 1/2 mile away. Stratofox members Will Galloway AE6EY and
Steve Palmer KA6DHU found it using standard radio direction finding techniques.
Everyone had missed it in binocular sweeps because the 1/2 inch cube-shaped
transmitter was covered in masking tape which is the same color as the
surface of the playa.
Pictures included here are by Andrew Chant KG6ZPE, Ian Kluft KO6YQ,
Pat Power WB6RIC and Will Galloway AE6EY.