Photo by Kevin Trueblood
Lauch Report by Lon Westfall
I arrived very late to the launch and only flew one rocket. My PML Ariel on an I285R-L. My thanks to Chris for setting me up with motor retention and Mark for the correct delay element.
The flight did not go well. It sat on the pad and chuffed about 5 times over a period of 10-15 seconds. It then took off quickly. About one second into the flight the chute came out, a fin was lost, and the nosecone broke loose. The nosecone was found with only slight damage. The fin was not found. The body experienced a 2" zipper. I expect I'll fix the damage and fly the silly thing again. It's my L1 rocket and it has sentimental value. But... I'm thinking I have all the materials to create a fiberglass version of the rocket and I'm tempted...
There is a debate about exactly what happened. My best guess was that the chuffing started the delay element burning (it must have) and the delay burned to its end, and caused the chute to eject, just before burnout. Alternatively, the fin could have ripped off causing the chute to come out from drag separation. The reason I think that a premature ejection charge caused the disaster is that the top of the motor was covered with ash indicating that the motor burned through the touch hole in the forward closure for a short period after the ejection charge went off.