(Middlefield, OH – March 22, 2014)
On March 22, Comanche was set to take to the sky for a second time on Mission CLS-002. At ignition, all things looked good, but in a fraction of a second…not so good.
In less than 1 second, Comanche whipped around the air at maybe 50 feet….then the field was quiet.
After recovering Comanche & inspecting, it became apparent there was a motor failure. The failure is what high power rocket folks call “blow by”, where the exhaust from the burning propellant “blows by” the delay grain pellet, and ignites the black powder recovery charge.
This caused the deployment of the drogue parachute & apogee separation event right at the launch pad.
The top half of Comanche shot upward, then the booster started to raise into the air as the motor came up to pressure. This caused the booster section to “ram into” the upper section, and from there the unstable rocket whipped around for a bit until the propellant burned out.
Normally a rocket would be totally (if not nearly) destroyed by such an event. Comanche only suffered damage to the section of the booster that made contact with the upper section. That and a LOT of soot inside the booster were the only results of this episode. Whew!
Cleanup & repair took about 3 days to complete, and Comanche is ready to go again, with mission CLS-003 set for April 25, 2014.
Here are the rest of the photos to view..