(December 26, 2011 — Middlefield, OH)

Pathfinder’s latest mission…

Pathfinder on Launch Pad #1 waiting for liftoff...

As a whole, pathfinder’s mission (ALS-041) went better than expected. There was one problem though…

Pathfinder / Artemis took to the skies on an Aerotech F-35 white lightning motor — which is (so far) the most powerful motor used on any of my rockets to date.

Pathfinder’s top altitude was 1360 feet AGL with a top speed of 320 MPH. A most impressive boost to apogee, where the drogue fired with perfect timing, and Pathfinder started its decent to earth.


At 400′, the main parachute was supposed to deploy. That event did not happen, and Pathfinder landed a bit faster than planned, thankfully with minimal damage.

Looking over the flight data, it was determined that either the igniter for the main parachute was defective, or that a short-circuit happened in the igniter wiring during the boost phase
of the flight. Which mode of failure has yet to be determined, but I will be able to figure that out in a few more days…

Pathfinder is definitely living up to its name by showing the path to (hopefully) trouble-free electronic recovery deployment systems. The design of the Adventure / Nesaru
rocket has been tweaked several times based test flights of similar systems on board pathfinder.

The next flight for Pathfinder is set for January 21, again on the F-32 motor. A second flight MIGHT be scheduled using the 29mm motor booster for the first time —
and the first 29mm motor booster flight is set to use a G-64 engine…raising the bar on motor power yet again!

The Pathfinder missions are designed as a bridge between my class1 (level 0) launches and the upcoming Class 2 (Level 1) certification launches.