ASK 't Harde, 6 August, 1993 - After two launches in France and one with the NERO (another Dutch rocketry group) the NAVRO was finally to organize its own launch. First a launch location had to be found. Unfortunately promissing contacts with the LUASK (anti-aircraft shooting range) in Den Helder didn't work out, as the ranges licences didn't cover rockets. However they pointed us to the ASK 't Harde (artillery shooting range) near Oldenbroek. Here the NERO had been launching for years and after several meetings we could use the range twice per year. NAVRO's first launch was thoroughly prepared. A solid launch tower was built by Peter Heeren and a practice day was held to test and get used to the procedures. Meanwhile a new rocket, the N4, was also constructed. The launch campaign was called NAVRO Lanceer Dag 1 (NAVRO Launch Day 1) or NLD1 for short.
Thursday 5 August the first NLD started early in the morning in our hometown Alblasserdam, were all equipment was packed. After the 1 hour 30 minutes trip we were presented the N3 when we arrived on the launch site. It was launched a year earlier on a NERO launch and not recovered back then. Then we started to unpack and assembled the launch tower, some army tents were put up, signs were placed to and on the shooting range, as well as some other small preparations that were done. The rocket and its motor were also prepared. After dinner there was a great evening in a mess and we slept in the barracks of the shooting range.
The Friday started with the final preparations, like rolling out the ignition wire down the hill. Before the launch our guests were invited to see our new launch tower, which Peter Heeren had build. This launch tower was quite a novelty in Europe, as the rockets weren't clamped between guides, but the rocket hangs on lugs in a rail. The guests also had an opportunity to see the N4 before the launch and a group photo was taken with all present NAVRO members and the N4. Meanwhile the projected trajectory of the N4 rocket was plotted on a map in consultation with sergeant Jongbloed and with the help of a prototype of our trajectory computer program Altipro. These pre-flight calculations are to ensure that the rockets lands on a designated part of the shooting range in case of both a successful flight and an impact flight (where the rocket doesn't parachute and flies ballisticly). It also helps to recover the rocket after the flight, as its landing spot should be close to the predicted one.
Following the last preparations the PTLP-team (the pyro-technicians) went down the hill to the launch tower where the N4 was mated with its K600 Kalinitrox motor and subsequently the N4 was placed in the launch tower, all by following a thorough checklist. One member of the PTLP-team connected the igniter to the ignition system, while the others observed from a safe distance and then they all went back up the hill to see the launch with the spectators. After countdown the N4 was launched successfully and flew fine. The N4 was recovered with the help of sergeant Jongbloed, who is one of the shooting ranges safety officers, as there could still be unexploded shells on the shooting range. While the N4 had landed wide of any of those, it did lose two of its fins on landing.
After disassembling the tower and packing, we went home satisfied. All in all the NAVRO had organized a successful first launch day. Back in Alblasserdam much work had to be done to repair and upgrade the N4, as it was to be launched three weeks later in France as the N8.