On June 4th at the MTA, Osvaldo and I launched an RRS Alpha with two features:
(1) refurbished alpha nozzle bored out to accept a graphite throat insert to demonstrate better performance in maintaining throat diameter and what could be better re-usability.
(2) smoke charge in the payload section to aid in better visualization of the flight trajectory
The empty alpha vehicle weighed in at 3.65 lbm, the loaded alpha vehicle weight was 6.55 lbm for a typical propellant load of 2.90 lbm. I took some photos of the whole assembly and loading process just for illustration. The process is very typical for the RRS alpha’s we fly.
The video linked below is of the countdown and launch. Don’t blink.
Results were inconclusive until we can locate and recover (dig up) the rocket. After some initial searching in the heat of the afternoon, I had to give up the hunt for the day. I hope to get back out to the MTA and locate it and get pictures of the fired nozzle with the graphite throat. Also, we can usually reuse the coupler and… with luck… the nozzle.
As for the smoke charge, the smoke dispersed nicely just before launch, but given the bright sun in the blue sky above, a trail wasn’t evident. At least, I didn’t see it? Larry said the smoke trail was visible all the way up to apogee where the smoke stopped.
If the throat maintained its shape, the performance (apogee and downrange distance) might have been quite good. I think my initial search area was too close. I’ll refine the flight calculations and see where might be a better place to renew the search.
Thanks to Dave Crisalli who was our pyro-op for the June 4th launch.
I’ll update this post with the “after” photos when the rocket is found.