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Somes Ya Wins, ’n’ Somes Ya Loses

The maiden launch of Die Fledermaus was on Saturday, February 2nd, at LUNAR‘s Snow Ranch launch facility. It was a beautiful day: light winds, pleasant temperatures, a good turnout of fellow space cases. Perfect situation to fly Die Fledermaus.

The first flight, on a G64-4W, was fabulous. Picture-perfect. Nice, straight up, ejection near apogee, gentle landing not far away. The flight made 200 meters, 35 meters below simulation prediction. (I did not weigh the rocket before flying, so the build mass is probably a little more than the design mass.)

Let’s do it again!

Another G64-4W. Another nice up, ejection near apogee. Then, things stopped going so well.

The parachute fouled on its shroud lines, and did not fully inflate. It could catch some air, sure, but a parawad on an Estes Alpha III from 50-70 meters and a parawad on a 1 ½ kg rocket from 200 meters are two different ballgames. It wasn’t a catastrophic crash, but the rocket certainly hit the ground faster than the design of ~4 ½ meters/second. The bad news was not exhausted, though: it landed in the creek. Hundreds of acres of ranch, light winds, and the rocket ends up in the creek.

The water wasn’t a big problem: with the help of a friendly fellow rocketeer, Die Fledermaus was partially dunked for well under a minute. But, like many, many small creeks, the bed was strewn with rocks and stones. Die Fledermaus hit a few on the way down, with the damage shown below.

Close-up of Die Fledermaus's aft edge, showing the stone-inflicted damage.

Close-up of Die Fledermaus’s aft edge, showing the stone-inflicted damage.

Close-up showing the worst of the airframe damage.

Close-up showing the worst of the airframe damage.



Feh and double feh.

In the airframe damage picture, notice the smudge and cracked paint on the right side of the picture, above the second “e.” That looked like bad news. The saving grace: it’s right on the MMT’s forward centering ring, so there’s apparently no significant weakening of the airframe.

Last night, while working on BAAH-1, I had some extra epoxy (JB Weld, truth to tell) mixed up. Rather than just let it harden and go to waste, I applied some of it to the damage to begin repairs. There’s enough of the airframe left to serve as supports for the epoxy patch (initially, I thought I might have to back the big hole with some cardboard, just to hold it in place).

At the right are pictures of the repair. The outer surfaces will need sanding and painting, but she should fly again!

Repairs on the airframe.

Repairs on the airframe.

Repair of the aft edge.

Repair of the aft edge.

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