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The Black Brant Project

Take a look at What's New in our web.


Note: Actual project will be almost 2 feet taller  than the real one shown in the picture


The Black Brant Project is proving to be the most ambitious and daring project to come down the road in a long time.  Never before in the history of High Power Rocketry have three motors in the "P" impulse range ever been clustered together into one rocket. That combined with the overall size and weight of the project will make this the most spectacular flight of not only 2004, but for some time to come. 

This project will combine the talents of three prominent individuals: Wedge Oldham (airframe), Darren Wright (propellant), and Jeff Taylor (motor cases).  By dividing up the project each team member is allowed to make maximum use of of special skills.  By combining the skills of each person the results will be far greater than any one person could achieve.

If you are interested in becoming part of this history making project please visit our sponsor page.

bulletDescription: A 107% scale Black Brant II with three 6 inch (152mm) motor mounts. 
bulletFlight configuration: Three 45,042 NS motors (10% "P" motors), all lit on the pad.
bulletTotal installed impulse will be 135,126 Newton-Seconds or 65% "Q"
bulletDiameter: 18.5" 
bulletLength: 357" (29 3/4 feet)
bulletEstimated Altitude: 14,700 feet
bulletEstimated Velocity: Mach 1.05 (1170 Feet/Second)
bulletLaunch Date: September, 2004
bulletLaunch Site: Black Rock, Nevada
bulletVisitors since February 25th 2003 


Launch date: BALLS 2004 September 11

What's New

The following is a list of recent additions to our web. Whenever I submit a status report, or add anything else to our web, I'll put a notice here. Every so often I'll remove the oldest items. The most recent changes are listed first, and each item is linked to the page with the updated content. 

September 15, 2004

bulletThe Black Brant has FLOWN!
bulletAdded a Launch Report page

September 7, 2004

bulletFINAL UPDATE: The Black Brant departs for Reno tomorrow morning.  We are go for launch.
bulletNext update after we return from BALLS.
bullet4 days till launch

September 6, 2004

bulletThe Black Brant was loaded into the truck.  This job was seriously underestimated and took most of the day.  Luckily there was plenty of help on hand.  A special thanks to all who participated.
bulletMain chute has been packed.
bullet5 days till launch

September 2, 2004

bullet Painting has been completed
bulletJoe Zamiska did an outstanding job of painting this rocket.  The finish is just awesome and something that can not really be captured in a photograph.
bulletMelinda Catalano has worked her magic with the people over at Penske Truck Rentals and secured and outstanding deal on a 15' truck.  
bulletA special thanks to Jolene Berganio at PENSKE SAN FERNANDO RENT for her great service.  Jolene was also responsible for securing the truck when the Nike went to LDRS 21 in Amarillo, Texas.
bullet9 days till launch

September 1, 2004

bulletThe rocket has been taped in preparation for the black paint.
bulletDarren has reported that all grains have been cast and are ready to go. 
bulletUpdated the "Launch Information" page.
bulletAdded a great shot of the launch tower to the launcher page.
bullet10 days till launch

August 30, 2004

bulletJoe Zamiska shot the first color coat.  The white sections are now fully painted.
bulletUpdated the estimated Velocity and Altitude prediction with the results of the static motor test.
bullet12 days till launch

August 27, 2004

bulletCountdown to launch continues.
bulletWet sanding was completed on the Booster Section and the Payload Section yesterday.  These sections are now ready for the first color coat. 
bulletJoe Zamiska plans on shooting the first color coat on Sunday August 29th.  This will be the final paint for the white sections.  Black Sections are scheduled to be overlaid on Tuesday August 31st.
bulletAdded pictures of the Launch Rail.
bullet15 days till launch

August 23, 2004

bulletPosted videos of the "P" motor test done on August 22nd.  There is some great footage of the awesome power of just one of the P motors.  If you think a single P motor looks great just imagine what three of them will look like.
bullet19 days till launch

August 22, 2004

bulletMotor Test successful.  The static test of one of the Black Brant motors today was a complete success.
bulletThe successful completion of this test means that we are "GO FOR LAUNCH".
bulletPicture & video to be posted on this site, as soon as they are available.
bullet20 days till launch

August 21, 2004

bulletBoat tail section completed.
bulletAft rail guide attached.  This event makes the Black Brant flyable.
bulletRough sand & filler of all rocket parts completed.
bulletBlack Brant has been primered.
bulletDarren has completed the casting of three sets of grains. One set of grains will be used in the static test.
bulletThree more "SHELTERS" have been ordered from Defy Gravity.  This will give the Black Brant Team 10' X 60' of shade at BALLS.
bulletGates Brothers Rocketry has allowed the use of their "Vehicle Assembly and Transport Cradle"
bullet21 days till launch

August 8, 2004

bulletFin can complete.
bulletFin can is inserted in the booster.
bulletJoe Zamiska wants to shoot primer this Friday, due to him going out of town the following week.  This presents a conflict with the schedule as the booster section will not be ready at that time.  If we are unable to resolve this conflict the paint will go on without a primer coat.  
bullet34 days till launch

August 6, 2004

bulletAdded pictures of a test fitting of two fins, the motor mount, and one motor case.
bulletThis test fit reveled a major construction flaw.  It seems that as soon as the fins are attached to the motor mount, there will be now way of getting the rocket out of the backyard.  39" of fins attached to 18" diameter body tube will not fit out the gate.  Therefore Booster Section construction has moved from the Vehicle Assembly Area (the backyard) to the smaller Vehicle Assembly Building (the garage).  This move has cost the project a couple of day.
bulletThe motor mount / fin can will be installed in the booster tube on Sunday 8/8/2004.
bullet36 days till launch

August 4, 2004

bullet Darren is currently casting the grains to build four "P" motors.  One motor to be used in a static test, and the other three will be flown at BALLS.
bullet Darren and Jeff will be performing a full static test of the Black Brant motor on August 21st.  This static test represents a significant event in the Black Brant Project.
bulletParachute deployment bags and main pilot chute arrived from Rocket Rage
bullet38 days till launch

August 1, 2004

bulletApplied two layers of carbon fiber to all fins.  Fin can should be completed sometime this week.
bulletJoe Zamiska stopped by today to evaluate the painting aspect of the project.  The actual logistics (where, when and how) are still being worked out.
bulletMost of the rest of the week was spent with bondo and fine sandpaper, Nose Cone and Payload Section should be ready for primer this week.
bulletOrdered parachute deployment bags and main pilot chute from Rocket Rage
bullet41 days till launch

July 28, 2004

bulletAdded a page showing Fin Construction
bulletAdded photos showing the test fit of the fins into the motor mount
bulletAdded photos showing the foam placement on the fin leading and trailing edges.
bullet45 days till launch

July 21, 2004

bulletEpoxied the main coupler into the payload section, to join it to the booster section.
bulletCut and drilled the centering rings for the motor mount.
bulletDoug Lay has started welding the launch tower rocket support.
bullet52 days till launch

July 12, 2004

bulletLaid up the final layer of glass onto the nose cone.
bullet61 days till launch

July 8, 2004

bulletReceived the 7.5 nose cone from Performance Rocketry, great construction and design on this one.
bulletSpoke with Darren Wright today, and he reported no problems on the propulsion side of the rocket.  Darren anticipates having all grains cast no later than August 15th.
bullet67 days till launch

July 6, 2004

bulletConstruction is continuing at what can best be described as a frenzied pace.
bulletSheeted the upper section of the nose cone.
bulletAdded a page showing the main coupler construction.
bulletAdded a page for the payload section.
bulletUpdated the launch information page.
bulletBALLS registration form available on-line.
bulletDoug Lay has offered his services to build the launch tower rocket support.
bullet69 days till launch

June 22, 2004

bulletUpdated the igniter page showing the test setup and the results.
bullet50 grams of thermite will be used for each motor.
bullet81 days till launch

June 20, 2004

bulletFirst motor case has been received.
bulletIgniter testing completed.
bulletBlack Brant will be hauling Rocket Mail at BALLS, contact Bruce Kelly to have your letter fly with the Black Brant.
bulletHigh Power Rocketry Magazine added as a sponsor, a full page ad for the Black Brant should be appearing in the next issue.  Troy Monroe Stacey will be doing the layout.
bulletAerotech has been added as a sponsor.
bulletFirst parts of the nose cone sheeting have been attached.
bulletWedge Oldham turned 47 on the 17th
bulletHappy Father's Day Dad.
bullet83 days till launch

June 8, 2004

bulletCut and test fit pieces needed for sheeting the nose cone.
bulletIgniter and thermite testing to be at ROCstock XIX this weekend.
bullet95 days till launch

June 4, 2004

bulletThe launch date has been changed to September 10-12, 2004.
bullet98 days till launch

May 31, 2004

bulletBusy weekend this week, actually got a lot accomplished on the rocket this week.
bulletMounted the nose cone shoulder to the coupler tube to for the base of the nose cone. 
bulletEpoxied the centering rings onto the main nose cone tube.
bulletCut hatches in the shoulder section of the nose cone.
bulletCut and epoxied the nose cone ribs to the centering rings.
bulletNext step sheeting the nose cone.
bullet109 days till launch

May 27, 2004

bulletJeff Taylor has just completed hydrostatic motor testing of the first of three motor cases.  This case was successfully tested to a pressure of 1500 pounds per square inch, or  twice the expected mean operating pressure.
bulletThe Motor Case will ship tomorrow to Wedge Oldham for use in building the fin can / motor assembly. 
bulletThe motor case will also be on display at ROCstock XIX, the semi-annual three day launch of the Rocketry Organization of California
bulletThis completed motor marks a significant milestone in the Black Brant project.
bulletChemistry for the thermite igniters was delivered today. Testing will take place at ROCstock XIX
bullet113 days till launch

May 26, 2004

bulletMarked the nose cone body tube for placement of the centering rings today.
bulletSecured permission from the "Friends of Amateur Rocketry, Inc" for the use of the launch tower at BALLS.
bullet114 days till launch

May 23, 2004

bulletWas able to purchase more epoxy and resume construction this weekend.
bulletPurchased a used floor Drill Press.
bulletAdded another layer of epoxy to the nose cone main tube.
bulletContinued construction on the nose cone by cutting all centering rings.
bullet117 days till launch

May 21, 2004

bulletRan out of epoxy and money this week.  Not much has been accomplished on the rocket in the last five days.  This weekend should see some major advances in nose cone construction.
bulletOrdered chemicals need for a new igniter compound.  Darren Wright devolved this thermite mixture, and  Neil McGilvray used it to launch the "Liberty" project.  The result have been simple amazing.
bulletWe are at 17 weeks until launch today.
bullet119 days till launch

May 17, 2004

bulletBusy weekend with construction, most of it centered around Nose Cone.  See the new Nose Cone page for details.
bullet123 days till launch

May 14, 2004

bulletJoe Zamiska is currently placing an order for all primer needed for the Black Brant.
bulletAdded a page for Launch Information.
bulletProject Members page has been updated.
bullet127 days till launch

May 11, 2004

bulletThe nose cone shoulder was joined together this evening, along with an update to the nose cone shoulder page.
bulletJeff Taylor reports that the first "P" motor case for the Black Brant will going to the anodizing shop this week and should be ready to be picked up this Friday (5/14/2004).
bulletDarren Wright reports no problems on the propellant side.
bullet Curtis Turner of Performance Rocketry has informed me that the 7.5" 5:1 conical nose cone will ship in approximately 2 weeks.
bulletVictor Lock is working on two support stands for the Black Brant. This stand will allow assemble of the rocket, and be used for transport to the launch pad.  This design will be similar to the support stand used by Jeff Jacobs at BALLS 2003.
bullet Doug Lay has pledged his welding assistance in fabricating the support stands.
bullet130 days till launch

May 9, 2004

bulletROC held it's normal monthly launch for the month of May.  I was able to pick up my 30 yards of carbon fiber at this launch.
bulletThe tube for the nose cone shoulder has been split and a section removed. This represents the first stage in making a coupler section for 18" fiberglass tube.
bulletA number of fellow rocketeers have asked will the Black Brant be ready for BALLS.  At this time confidence is high that everything will come together. The purchase of the tubes and carbon fiber represent significant milestones in the funding of the project. We're not out of the woods yet, time will still be a major factor in getting everything done.
bulletHappy Mother's Day mom!
bullet132 days till launch

May 6, 2004

bulletMain Body Tubes have been placed in the Black Brant Construction area, meaning the back patio. Clearing space for them proved to be a large challenge.
bulletAll tubes have been marked in preparation for cutting, check the "Tube Marking" page for details.
bullet"Victor Locke" has been added as a Project Contributor.
bulletAll tubes have been cut to length
bulletTime is beginning to run short, and there's very little construction completed.  Construction is now on high priority.  Future website updates will have to take a back seat to actual construction.
bullet135 days till launch

April 29, 2004

bulletMain Body Tubes have arrived.  These three tubes measure 18" in diameter and are 10 feet long. They will form the main body of the rocket.
bulletCarbon fiber has arrived.  An order for 30 yards of carbon fiber arrived and will be picked up at the next ROC launch.
bullet142 days till launch

April 24, 2004

bulletCONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN an area has been cleared (and cleaned) on the back patio for construction of the Black Brant
bulletThe coupler section of the nose cone has been built, along with the two 7.5 inch tubes forming the inner tubes of the nose cone. The center section of the nose cone is now ready for glassing.
bullet147 days till launch

April 18, 2004

bulletJeff Taylor has been hard at work on the motor cases.  Check out his progress on this page.
bulletJeff anticipates shipping a completed case over to Wedge Oldham for fitting within a month.  This will ensure that everything will fit together perfectly at the launch.
bullet153 days till launch

March 17, 2004

bulletVan Norman Audio Visual has tentatively agreed to coordinate all of the video aspect of the flight of the Black Brant.  This division of labor will greatly relieve the burden of the core flight crew.
bulletCarl Delzell of Rocket Rage has been hard at work sewing shock cords and building a prototype pilot chute. Check out the new page dedicated to recovery issues.
bulletAfter constant and unrelenting insistence by Melinda Catalano (girlfriend of Wedge Oldham) the Black Brant Project has been assigned the official tag-line of "On the verge of insanity"
bullet185 days till launch

March 2, 2004

bulletThe propulsion side of the project is now fully funded.
bulletAn order for 300 feet of tubular nylon has been placed with Rocket Rage
bullet"The Black Brant Project" banner is now available.
bullet200 days till launch

February 29, 2004

bulletAdded a page showing the design of the fin can
bulletChanged the motor mount design from using 1/4" all-thread to 5/16".  Opened up the spacing between the motor to give a 1/16" clearance between the thrust rings.  Original design called for a an interference fit that would be filed to fit.
bullet202 days till launch

February 25, 2004

bulletDrawings and a description of the igniters to be used for motor ignition have been posted to the site.
bulletThe individual body tube lengths have been changed, moving the center coupling section of the rocket forward. This was done during the nose cone redesign, and helped contribute to the weight loss and forward shift of the C/G.
bulletConstruction phase to begin sometime next month.
bulletJon Danner has joined the Black Brant Project team as a "Project Contributor".  Jon has volunteered his services as a graphic designer. Jon's first order of business will be to tackle the problem of getting all the scale markings onto the rocket and keeping them on during it's Mach plus flight.
bullet206 days till launch

February 7, 2004

bulletThe redesign of the nose cone has been completed. These design changes have resulted in the following:
  1. Overall weight of the rocket has been reduced by 20 pounds,
  2. The center of gravity (C/G) has moved forward by 7 inches.
  3. The stability has increased to 7.16 calibers.
  4. The descent speeds of both the nose cone and the main body are now closer to each other with both coming down at about 15 feet per second.
bulletRevised all 3D drawings for the nose cone.
bullet224 days till launch

January 2, 2004

bulletMark Clark has announced the dates for the National Experimental Launch "BALLS".  This year BALLS will be held during the third weekend of September.  Dates are the 17th through the 19th. The Black Brant is scheduled to fly on Saturday, September 18th.
bulletHappy New Year to all.
bullet260 days till launch

December 30, 2003

bulletWorking on a major re-design of the forward part of the Black Brant. The design has been changed from a dual deployment to a single deployment with twin chutes.  This has resulted in a lighter design, with a more equal weight distribution between the 27' chute and the 47' main.
bulletA JVC DV camera has been added.  Just doesn't seem right to launch a rocket of this size and power without capturing it on film.
bulletWorking with a different drawing program to show details in 3D.  Look for more drawings to be published soon.
bullet263 days till launch

November 28, 2003

bulletFin design has been finalized. Check out the Fin Construction page for details.
bulletNew look and feel selected for the Black Brant Project website.
bullet"Other Projects" moved from BlackBrant2.com and placed on www.WedgeOldham.com
bullet295 days till launch

November 3, 2003

bulletNow hosted at www.WedgeOldham.com
bullet320 days till launch

October 12, 2003

bulletThe body tubes purchased were designed to be cut from 12 foot lengths. The manufacturer has informed me that only 10 foot lengths of this tube are available. This has caused a design change in the way the tubes will be cut. The new tube lengths and cuts has been updated on the design page.
bulletDetails of the Tomahawk construction have been added.
bullet343 days till launch

October 9, 2003

bulletAttendance at BALLS, and the flight of the Tomahawks has taken priority over Black Brant Project website updates. Short version "I've been busy".  Now that the Tomahawk is out of the way we will begin making more updates to the website.
bulletThe Tomahawk flew.  Look for a complete set of pictures describing the construction.  For now here's a picture of the 12 Tomahawks at liftoff.
bulletCheck out the "Save Rocketry Now" button at the bottom of this page.
bullet346 days till launch

August 10, 2003

bulletSome of the first drawings of the nose cone using the solids modeling feature of AutoCAD have been uploaded. These drawings have been a great help in showing the exact relationship of all parts. View the first (of many) pages here.
bullet406 days till launch

July 18, 2003

bulletOur first sponsor has signed on. Curtis Turner of Performance Rocketry has agreed to supply the 7.5" fiberglass nose cone for the Black Brant. Details of the nose cone and it's construction are here.
bulletDarren and Jeff are at LDRS 22 this week. Jeff will have one of the Black Brant motors on display. Darren  will fly one of the "P" motors in Neil's' COW rocket. This motor is the same as will be used in the Black Brant.  
bulletPat Gordzelik will be flying one of Jeff's cases at LDRS. This case will be loaded with "Polish Rojo" propellant, and flown in his Aurora project. 
bulletMelinda Catalano (girlfriend of Wedge Oldham) has strongly suggested that the name of this project should be changed to "On the verge of insanity".
bullet429 days till launch

July 6, 2003

bulletA complete re-design of the nose cone is currently underway. These changes will enable the Black Brant to use a 7.5" fiberglass nose cone from Performance Rocketry. These changes simplify construction  and improve the overall strength of the nose. 
bulletUpdated the Construction page to show some pictures of a "P" motor in action. These pictures show the awesome power of just one of the motors for the Black Brant Project. Putting three together in one rocket is hard to imagine.
bulletThe recovery system is being re-thought out.  Possible changes include the use of three chutes (instead of the original two). A 15' for nose cone recovery, 27' for upper payload section, and 45' for booster recovery.
bullet441 days till launch

June 29, 2003

bulletOrbital Transport page has been added.  This page already contains a construction picture of the glider nose cone, that Brian Sutton has framed. Check out the other projects page for details on this project.
bulletMaterial for the Black Brant fins has been selected. Three layers of 1/4" Birch plywood will be pressed together with carbon fiber between each layer.
bullet448 days till launch

June 21, 2003

bulletPat Gordzelik will be flying a Jeff Taylor designed Loki Research 152mm P motor case at LDRS.  This is the same type of case that will be used in the Black Brant.  Pat has already static tested the smaller 152mm "O" motor case.  Here's a great picture of the test. 
bulletAdded the ability to make donations to the Black Brant Project via Pay Pal. If you're interested in making a Pay Pal donation checkout the sponsorship page.
bulletBlack Brant banner in the works.  Troy Monroe Stacey of Defy Gravity has designed a great banner for the project.  Click here for a preview.

June 17, 2003

bulletDarren Wright and Jeff Taylor will be attending LDRS 22 in Kansas. Jeff, team member in charge of motor case design plans to bring one (and possibly all three) of the Black Brant motors with him.  Each motor is 58" long and weighs 40 pounds empty.  Be sure to stop by and see him and the motor.
bulletAdded a page to describe some of the other projects Wedge Oldham is working on, also Wedge is celebrating a birthday today.

June 11, 2003

bulletThe Tripoli Rocket Association Board of Directors has voted to approve the flight of the Black Brant in September of 2004. This permission was necessary due to the Black Brant being powered by motors four times the size allowed nationally. This is a significant milestone and everyone on the project is very pleased.

June 6, 2003

bulletBlack Brant Project launch date has been rescheduled for BALLS 2004.
bulletA major crash caused by operator error has caused all updates from April 6th to June 6th to be lost. We will try to reconstruct this website as best as possible.
bulletMoney to purchase the AP for one motor has been sent to the propellant team.

April 6, 2003

bulletPosted the results of the compressive strength stress calculations.  Current selection of airframe material (fiberglass ducting) seems more than adequate to handle the loads needed. 
bulletAdded a page to show the calculations performed to determine the amount of "bending strength" the airframe is going to need.
bulletPerformed a major "spring-clean" on the rocket building facility (garage).  After the large trash pickup on Thursday (4/10/03) we should be setup to begin cutting body tubes to size.

March 28, 2003

bulletIn a conversation with most of the team members, we reached agreement on a drop dead date for project funding. The propulsion side of the project must be fully funded by June 1st, 2003.  On this date we will evaluate where we're at with project funds and determine will this thing fly at BALLS 2003, or be rescheduled for a later date.
bulletRevised the predictions for Altitude, and Velocity. Added a page to show the results of the simulations.
bulletThe project name and rocket name had been one of the items "to be decided". The project will be named the "Black Brant Project" and the rocket will be named "FREEBIRD".

March 2, 2003

bulletA complete recalculation of the Airframe stress page. See the updates to this page.
bulletAdded the start of some component stress analysis.
bulletAdded "Rocketry Top 50" links to the top and bottom banner sections.

March 1, 2003

bulletA construction page was started. This page is currently contains pictures and text that has been gather from previous work done. As more and more construction is completed this page will be filled. This will be the main "one to watch".
bulletJeff Taylor has been hard at work and has finished the nozzles for the motors. The pictures of these nozzles is a must see.
bulletDarren and Jeff are "out in the field" today testing their newest creation. A 80,000 NS "P" motor to be used in the JAMSTAR project. A boosted dart configuration that is expected to hit 100,000 feet.
bulletRemoved the "Schedule" page. Revised schedule: "90% of the project will take 10% of the time, and the other 10% of the project will take 90% of the time".
bulletAdded Neil McGilvray and Oliver Arend to the members page for their valuable contributions to the project.

January 28, 2003

bulletAirframe section of design page updated. The Sonotube & carbon fiber idea has been discarded in favor of a fiberglass pipe approach.
bulletDarren Wright fixed the burn time of the motors to 6.0 seconds.  It was previously thought that the burn time might need to be decreased to 4 seconds to prevent liner burn through.
bulletDarren Wright has received casting tubes and liners for the motors.
bulletJeff Taylor has received a shipment of aluminum tube with "more on the way".
bulletJeff will be placing a order for the graphite required for the nozzles.

December 1, 2002

bulletCreated a page to show the initial calculations for airframe stresses.

November 23, 2002

bulletMajor website layout change
bulletDesign additions and airframe decisions
bulletAdded milestones  to schedule

October 31, 2002 - November 22, 2002

bulletUpdates deleted

October 30, 2002

bulletInitial website upload.
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For problems or questions regarding this web contact WebMaster@BlackBrant2.com
This page looks best when viewed on my computer and was last updated on 01/24/09
THE BLACK BRANT PROJECT on the verge of insanity