Category Archives: Rocketry

Key cross-posts from my rocketry blog at

XR6 (Nesaru) Mission 6 on-board video with narration!

(Cuyahoga Falls, OH – December 1, 2013) I have edited the video from Friday’s Nesaru mission.  This time, I have added narration. I correlate the data from the flight computer with the events in the video, and explain what is happening.  This makes for a great introduction to the rocketry hobby for those who are new to it, or are following along with my adventures from the sidelines. Enjoy!




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Comanche XR9-C launch scrubbed, Nesaru XR-6 fills in…

(Middlefield, OH – November 29, 2013)

I had to scrub the maiden launch of Comanche XR9-C due to problems with its flight computer.  After a couple of hours of attempting work-a-rounds, I had to call off the launch.

I readied Nesaru for an unscheduled launch, bumping its late December launch to today.

Nesaru performed flawlessly, as usual, launching on an Aerotech H-180W engine, and reached an altitude of 1605 feet.  I’ll have more stats and on-board video form today’s launch in a couple of days after the flight data is analyzed.

In the mean-time, some cool screen captures from the in-flight video….

Liftoff!  The beautiful flame of the Aerotech H-180!
Liftoff! Looking downward between two of Nesaru’s fins. Enjoy the beautiful flame of the Aerotech H-180!
The view from 1,605 feet...
The view from 1,605 feet…

Stay tuned for more!

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GO call for tomorrow’s re-scheduled Comanche XR9-C launch

(Cuyahoga Falls, OH Nov 28, 2013)

Happy Thanksgiving!

About an hour ago, we issued the “All Go” call from MTMA (My rocketry club) for launch activities at the O’Reily Farm tomorrow.  This means we are all set for the re-scheduled maiden launch of Comanche XR9-C.  The objective for tomorrow’s launch is to make sure all systems perform as planned.

As of now, I’m looking at one minor issue with the rocket in that the pressure seals for the apogee event are a bit “leaky” for my taste, but this pressure leak is not hindering proper separation of the booster section at all, so I am not going to cancel the launch over it.  All is go as I proceed to prep Comanche this evening for an “about Noon Time” launch.

Batteries are being charged, and propellant is being loaded.  Charges will be loaded tomorrow before launch.

((( )))


Countdown has started for Comanche XR9C

(Cyuahoga Falls, OH – Monday Nov. 18, 2013)

The countdown timer has started for the maiden launch of Comanche XR9C, though it is unlikely the launch will happen on the planned launch date ( Sat, November 23) as weather conditions are not looking favorable.  Saturday and Sunday’s forecasts call for winds of 17-18 MPH, too far into the “red zone” for a first time launch.

The completed ComancheXR9C rocket.
The completed ComancheXR9C rocket.

We (as in MTMA, and I) will watch the weather, and a final GO / NO GO launch call will be made Friday evening.

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CG’s rocketry thoughts…The XR10 project

People have been asking me “So…what’s next? What is your next big rocket project?”

I’ve been noodling around with a tube fin based rocket. This will be my newest design project since project Perseus (XR4), whose roots go to XR3 (project Pegasus).

Up to now, all of my rocket designs have revolved around XR2 (Artemis) and XR4 (Perseus) rockets. The Comanche XR9C is an offshoot (a blending) of both Artemis and Perseus designs – combining the best of both into a unique design.

The new project carries the designation “XR10”, and will be called “Project Zephyr”.

The most notable feature of the new rocket will be the fact that it will make use of  “tube fins” in its design. Tube fin rockets use a series of hollow tubes around the base of the airframe instead of traditional fins.

I am interested in this design for two reasons.

  1. I think the design will be capable of stable flights across a wide range of weather (wind) conditions.
  2. Should make an excellent launch vehicle for a wide range of experimental payloads.

The first of the Zephyr designs will be a small scale boiler plate version of the rocket to be used in a series of flights with the purpose of logging all of its aerodynamic characteristics. The final flights of this model will be designed to push the limits of the rocket. This design will be designated XR10-1.

These test flights could begin by fall 2013 and last about 12-15 months.

The next will be a functional small scale version of the rocket with functioning computer systems with the capability of multi-staged flights.

There will be two rockets built for this portion of the project as these test flights will be quite extensive, and will last over a period of one and a half to two years. This length of time will be necessary to “tweak” the aerodynamic & mechanical design, as well as the flight computer software. These rockets will be designated XR10-2 and XR10-3. XR10-2 is set for a maiden flight in late 2014 / early 2015.

XR10-3 could follow a few months after XR10-2’s maiden flight.

As the test flights of these rockets comes to a close, construction will begin on a high power version of the rocket ( Zephyr V or XR10-HP) to launch by late 2016.  The final high power version will have the goal of routine launches reaching 1 mile or more in altitude.

In the meantime, between now and Apr 2014, there will be several High Power flights of Nesaru XR6, as well as the maiden flights of Comanche XR9C. In January, Vega will fly a series of flights over several months to test mechanical systems for use in XR10-2 and XR10-3 rockets.

Over the next few months or so, I will be laying out more information on this new rocket as the design comes together.

I am currently in the process of merging several disconnected rocketry projects into this particular one.

This will certainly be a busy little project for me!

((( )))


Vega’s maiden and follow-up launch: Textbook!

(October 12, 2013 – Aurora, OH)

Perseus XR4-B rocket “Vega” had its maiden launch earlier today.  This launch (PLS-047), and follow-up launch (PLS-048) marks the 47th and 48th launch of the Perseus rocket fleet, and the first dual deployment design for the mid power X4 rocket family.

Vega awaiting its maiden launch


Both launches were ‘uneventful’ in the sense that nothing unexpected occurred.

Vega’s launches was also used to test parachute packing methods.   The maiden launch used a method with the idea of more reliable inflation right at deployment.  It worked flawlessly.  Flight #2 used the old technique I’ve been using, and the result was familiar…a late parachute deployment.  This is something I’ve been fighting on and off for at least a year and a half.

From now on, the new parachute packing method will be used for all launches.

Vega is also equipped with a new method of deploying the main parachute, a device made by Archetype Rocketry called the “Cable Cutter”.  The Archetype Cable Cutters worked like a charm.

The Cable Cutter works by binding the main parachute using a plastic cable tie.  When the altimeter in the rocket (Vega) senses that it is at the proper altitude to deploy the main parachute, voltage is applied to the igniter in the Cable Cutter.  This ignites a small amount of Triple-7 type “black powder” to drive the cutter, which severs the tie, freeing the parachute to deploy.

This system works so well, I am looking to use it in the next mid power dual deploy rocket, and to possibly use in a level 1 rocket.

Vega’s next launch could come as early as two weeks while some of the components are finished & design tweaks are performed.

At the end of the day, a VERY smooth roll-out of a new design to add to the Perseus rocket line!

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Comanche XR9C passes successful ground tests…Possible (closer) launch date…

(Cuyahoga Falls, OH – July 4, 2013)

Earlier today the Comanche XR9C rocket successfully passed its ground tests, clearing it for its maiden flight.

The completed ComancheXR9C rocket.
The completed ComancheXR9C rocket.

“Officially”, the maiden flight for this 6 foot tall rocket is scheduled for late October / early November.


The Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) made an interesting ruling a few days ago.

TRA has allowed for all members of the National Association of  Rocketry (NAR) — which I am a member — to fly at any of their prefectures’ launches.  Previously NAR members could only fly at specific types of TRA launch events.

“Prefecture” can be thought of as TRA’s name for their rocketry clubs.

TRA members are typically involved in “research rocketry”.  This can involve experimental designs that NAR members are not insured to pursue, such as home made rocket fuel, some types of rocket designs, etc.  Many of the flight days at TRA locations are devoted to experimental rocketry, and NAR members were previously banned from those events.

Now, NAR members are allowed to fly during TRA research rocketry days provided they stick to what is allowed under NAR rules, and not try to partake in research rocketry.  Many of the fields that are available to launch larger high power rockets during the summer months are usually in use by TRA Prefectures.

What this means: there is now a larger range of fields that are available for me to fly High Power Rocketry (HPR) during the summer months.

This means that the maiden flight could be sooner than the “official” dates, but possibly in a different state.

This is exciting news!  More later…

I will publish more information on the XR9C rocket in the upcoming weeks!

((( )))


Flight reports…Nesaru flights NLS-004 and NLS-005

(Cuyahoga Falls, OH)

Well…I’m a bit late on one report, and on time for another.

NLS-004 recap

On Sunday, May 5, 2013 Nesaru mission NLS-004 was held in Amherst, OH at the GLRMR 2013 meet.   Winds were quite brisk, averaging around 17 MPH, with a few gusts about 10 MPH higher from time to time.  Definitely a day to test the aerodynamic characteristics to the max limits of the rules, for sure!

Based on flight data on the Perseus boosters (a design that Nesaru is based very closely on), I was expecting to see very favorable results.  The flight went without a hitch, and Nesaru plowed a straight line into the heavens even through the various layers of higher velocity wind shear forces on the way up.

The problem on that mission was this:  Human Error.  I did not tighten the screw switch down enough during launch preparation.  This switch powers the flight computer systems on board Nesaru.  The vibrations of launch caused the screw to back out enough to not give reliable power when the rocket reached apogee.  Nesaru fell about 150 feet, at which point the backup (time delay) charges activated, deploying the parachute, guiding the rocket to a safe landing.

No one (except me) realized that things didn’t go as planned.  Just the way you want it to be.  The crowd at the spectator line cheered and clapped over the spectacular flight.  Whew!

There were no pictures as I wanted to just watch this flight.  Motor: CTI H135, apogee: 1550 feet.

NLS-005 was two weeks later, same location.  (May 18, 2013).  This  flight was the opposite of NLS-004.  Not only did things go well, it was also the most photographed launch of any of my rocket launches.   My brother was there to take still pictures as well as the usual videos of launch both from the ground and from on-board Nesaru.

Nesaru is prepped for launch

The flight was totally text book.  Or should I use the favorite word from the commercial rocket programs these days… The mission was “nominal”.  🙂

Nesaru once again flew on a CTI H135 motor, reaching a top speed of about 348 MPH, and a peak altitude of 1440 feet.

NLS-005 Liftoff! This shot captures Nesaru as she clears the launch rail.

Analysis of all data as well as flight videos shows absolutely no anomalies during flight.   Besides the human error element of two flights, and the poor alkaline battery performance on the first flight, the performance of the rocket itself on all 5 flights have been absolutely superb.

Video frame capture of NLS-005 liftoff.


Liftoff as seen from Nesaru


The next flight for Nesaru is scheduled for sometime in October 2013.  There is a chance I may get to fly her at some point at an out of town (or out of state) launch site at some point, but for now, the official next launch date is October 2013.

The X6 Nesaru rocket is totally dis-assembled for post flight cleaning and inspection.

The post-flight clean up duty has begun on Nesaru, and it will continue for the next few days.

More later!

((( )))

Nesaru XR-6 Post flight inspection results

(April 1, 2013 – Cuyahga Falls)

The post NLS-003 mission flight inspection shows no flight damage to any area of the Nesaru XR6 rocket.  Good News!

Some “scorching” around the back end of the rocket was observed, however.

Some “scorching” on the root edge of one of the fins..

I have come up with two possibilities for this scorching.

1) “Bounce Back” from exhaust flames hitting the blast deflctor on the launch pad, and hitting the back end of the rocket shortly after
motor ignition. (Most Likely).

2) The ambient temperature behind the rocket from the motor flame being pretty high (less likely).

More scorching on the rear support ring of the Nesaru XR-6 booster section.

Another view of rear ring scorching.


Watching the launch video closely, frame by frame reveals nothing conclusive as to the cause.
Depending on your mindset while viewing, either of my above theories are possible causes.

As a precaution, I have lined the vulnerable areas of the rocket with aluminum tape, and will monitor progress over the next few flights.

After booster clean-up and aluminum tape applied to (hopefully) reduce future scorching…


Some other changes in the works:

After several rounds of “late inflation” of the main paracute in Nesaru mission NLS-003, and a few of the Artemis / Nala1 missions, I have come up with
a new parachute packing technique that *should* reduce the tendency of late deployment moving forward.  This method will be ground tested on April 24th then
used on Nesaru mission NLS-004.

Weather permitting, NLS-004 is scheduled for launch this coming April 28th.  Flight is planned to once again use the Aerotech H-180 motor.

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