The below photos were taken at Black Rock, Nevada during the Mavericks
launch event, July 18th through July 20th.
To see a higher resolution image of the picture, click on it.
This goal for this event was to conduct the first launch of the Super-ARLISS rocket in its 2-stage configuration. (See the SuperARLISS Project Web Site for more info on the rocket design.) The Super-ARLISS in its standard ARLISS-M configuration (sustainer stage only) had flown successfully at the ARLISS/XPRS 2007 event. Since then, Grant Saviers and I constructed the interstage coupler, the booster stage, and made several slight improvements to the sustainer. We were now ready to attempt deploying an ARLISS payload at 30,000 feet.
This event was also the debut for Grant's Black Rock Desert rocket chase vehicle. The Kawasaki Teryx was great for tooling around the camp, exploring, and rocket recovery.
Bob installs the batteries in the booster's avionics bay.
The booster avionics bay contains two G-Wiz LCX flight computers, a BeeLine GPS transmitter, and a Rouse-Tech CD3 parachute deployment device.
The sustainer's batteries are the new Lithium-Ion Polymer batteries. They are mounted externally, are charged, and are ready to go.
The sustainer avionics bay contains two G-Wiz MC2 flight computers, a BeeLine GPS transmitter, and two Rouse-Tech CD3 parachute deployment devices.
Final assembly is complete and Super-ARLISS rocket is ready to be transported to the launch pad. The 8 ft. sustainer and the 6 ft. booster will be transported separately to the pad. The booster will be loaded onto the launch rail first, then the sustainer will be set on top of it. Since the rocket was designed for drag separation, there are no fasteners used to secure the sustainer to the booster.
Loading the Rocket onto the Launch Tower
The Super-ARLISS is loaded onto the launch tower's 20 ft. rail. The sustainer only uses one rail button and will not be stable on top of the booster until it is vertical, so a bungee cord is used to hold anchor the top of the sustainer to the rail.
The booster uses two rail buttons, one attached to the booster's lower lower section, the other attached to the booster's upper section. Now that the rails has aligned the two rail buttons, shear pins are installed to hold the booster sections together.
The shear pins are installed and now the rocket is ready to be elevated to the vertical. We are using the Mavericks 20 ft. launch tower, which is elevated electronically.
The rocket is resting on the pad with its pointy-end up, the igniters are installed in the motors, and the aviation electronics have been turned on. We are ready to launch.
Up up and away...
Even from a distance of 1500 feet, the roar of the N2000 booster motor is impressive. The booster motor burn is perfect, straight up.
The booster continues its burn.
The sustainer descended using only its drogue parachute. The main parachute deployment bag is only half way out of the parachute compartment. The payload carrier is destroyed and the upper airframe fiberglass tube is fractured. The lower airframe has no damage.
Time to Celebrate
Time to open the champagne. We retrieved all of the expensive parts of the rocket intact. Many of the technologies used in the rocket were proved to function successfully. We retrieved enough data on the failed technologies to give us a basis for improvement..