Nike Launch Report


    Let's start with the most important item first. I want to thank all of the people who helped get the Nike in the air. I would like to list everyone by name but there were so many that I'm afraid I may miss someone.

    The prep for the Nike was an astronomical job. I had no idea how long it would take, and how much there was to do. For two whole days I had a team of people assembling the Nike. This "team" was not a organized team, but merely people who came by and asked can I help. As I saw how little progress I was making in the prep and how much more there was to do, I turned over more and more items of the prep work to other people. This included building all nine of the motors, packing the 15' drogue chute, building the Nike launch support stand (including wiring up the igniter clip leads). Other help included running to the store for more hardware, bringing in a generator, and lights so I could do some prep at night. Installing a large umbrella to work under in the back of the truck.

    This project took on a life of it's own, with more and more people getting involved. Truly an example of the story of "Stone Soup", with everyone contributing to the project in some way.  Thank you everyone.

    I have returned home with far more stuff than I left home with. All of it borrowed from fellow rocketeers. As I looked around my campsite on Monday, I felt like Ma & Pa Kettle because it looked like I had more stuff that belonged to other people than to me.

    The flight was incredible. I was standing quite a ways away, but I can still feel the pounding on my chest as the four K700 motors fired up. Staging was quick and the M motored fired instantly (not what I had sim'd). When the M kicked in it just kept going, and you could really see it accelerate. Both pairs of H73J motors lit right on time, and looked great. We had an *event* at apogee, and another at 1500'. These events went off as planned...the results of these events was somewhat not planned. The sustainer hit 5521 feet. The booster hit a max altitude of 419 feet.

Post mortem.
All four K700 motors lit instantly. On the video there is a 1 second delay between the end of the "countdown" and motor ignition. This was due to the delay built into the Digifire system. 

The booster *did not* drag separate, but was blown off by the M1939 in the sustainer. From the video it looks like the sustainer may have lit early. The entire boattail of the sustainer was scorched, but not badly. 

The booster smacked the lakebed very hard with the chute coming out only seconds before impact. I think if I had another 20 feet everything would've been fine. I had used 12 seconds on Mach delay in the booster. I hadn't thought of the sustainer kicking the booster off thereby slowing it much more than I'd sim'd. Hindsight being what it is, I'd say that even under optimum conditions 12 seconds is a little much. 8 seconds should have been fine. The booster is a total loss and will not be repaired. I'll build a new one, and a better one.

The nose cone came in ballistic, and buried itself about 3' into the lakebed. The drogue chute had it's shroud line burn away.  The nose cone airframe *could* be salvaged...the turned maple cone at the top with 21 pounds of lead in it is still buried in the lakebed. The nose cone will not be repaired, it too will be rebuilt. There were some design issues I didn't like with the nose cone.

The main body of the sustainer suffered no damage, which is good as it was this part that took the most construction time.

Here are some pictures that really stand out.

np1-30.jpg (111071 bytes) Climbing the tower to shear pin the nose cone (again)

nikeup.jpg (19521 bytes)From a different angle

np1-34.jpg (49544 bytes) Four K700 motors at close to ignition

mvc-002f.jpg (215433 bytes) Climbing the tower under full power

Click the icon to see all of the photos and video of the launch

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