by Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG
The RRS held our last launch event of 2022 on Saturday, December 17th. Wolfram Blume brought out the next build of the Gas Guzzler two-stage rocket. I was the pyro-op in charge and RRS member Joe Dominguez was my apprentice.
It was a flight test of Wolfram’s third rebuild of this complex system. The ramjet upper stage was empty for this flight test to demonstrate the rebuilt design would work well enough before proceeding with a fueled flight test of the ramjet.
The integration of the stages and mounting on the 1515 launch rail worked perfectly. The booster with an L-motor powered the vehicle on a stable trajectory under nearly zero wind conditions. Stage separation was clean and the drogue chute was seen deployed.
The booster recovery failed to deploy and the main chute on the ramjet also failed. Both stages were lost but recovered less than 100 yards from the launch rail. The drogue chute was ripped clean and found downrange.
Wolfram has spare parts already made, but another launch may require at least another month before a new vehicle is ready. He must also study the wreckage and flight data to find the problems and how best to correct them.
The event was also used to fix the new horizontal mounting points. Four of the new 3/4-10 female anchors in the regular 7-by-4 pattern put in by USC RPL this year had problems. Two holes were blocked by old anchors so we spent the afternoon chipping them out. With a quart-sized plastic bucket and some small bits of gravel, the holes were patched with fresh concrete and left to cure until the next event in a month or so. The other two holes will be worked at the next event.
The event also continued the work on the restroom facility. The plumbing, pumps and electrical systems need work. The project will continue into January until its completion.
With the last hour of daylight, we started the stick welding of the missing mounting plate. Joe used the portable welding generator to get the plate in place, but multiple passes would be required to finish. We ran out of daylight before completing the job.