(October 23, 2011 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH)

Artemis rocket “Pathfinder” took to the sky for two missions on Saturday, October 22.

The first mission of the day (ALS-039) had a mechanical issue which resulted in a “very successful failure”.   The failure was a result of a misfit on the door for the apogee deployment charge.  This caused a loss

of pressurization which resulted in the rocket not separating into two pieces at apogee.  The entire stack started coming in ballistic at a “scary speed”.

Now the successful part: After a couple of seconds of sheer terror and facing the possibility of a total loss of the rocket, backup systems kicked in, separating the rocket at around 600 feet.  This slowed the rocket down enough so that the main parachute deployment system was able to function, and Pathfinder landed slowly into a small tree.  I was able to easily recover it.  WHEW!

The success comes in the fact that the backup systems worked totally as planned.  This was a total relief as the system was designed purely around theory.  (In THEORY, it should work), but there was no way to test it in the real world.  ALS-039 proved it to work in reality.  The rocket was able to recover from a close to 200 MPH ballistic decent under parachute with NO damage to the rocket or any other property.  THAT in itself was amazing to see!  Unfortunately, no video of any of the flights as our club consisted of a skeleton crew of 3 (including me).

ALS-040 was a total success with all systems functioning as planned.

The next series of flights (ALS-041, ALS042) are set for November 12.  I am making a few changes to the booster section to lower aerodynamic drag, and also testing some subtle changes to the parachute deployment system.

The November 12th flights will be the final flights under the power of an F24 motor.  The next series of launches (ALS-043, and ALS-044) will be flown using the F-35 motor for the first time.  My highest power flights yet!

Starting next week, I will begin construction on another booster section featuring a 29,mm motor mount.  This will allow Pathfinder to reach heights well over 2,000 feet!  The first mission using that system will be ALS-045 which is set to fly in December.

((( )))