ASK 't Harde, 4 April, 2003 - After weeks of planning and preparing we went to ASK 't Harde to launch again. On Thursday we built up the launch towers and other equipment. Also the rockets were prepared. In the evening we enjoyed ourselves in the mess.
Friday early in the morning we did the last bits of preparation on the site. The weather was better then we are used to, but it was very cold. The first rocket to be launched was the N24, the NAVRO amateur rocket. It was to be the rockets seventh launch, so we weren't worried at all. The AeroTech K1100-T provided a great lift off to 1500m, but the rocket didn't parachuted and the rocket landed ballistic. Later it was found shrunken in size to 50cm (see picture). The problem was a safety plug, which was still in place when launched.
The next rocket was the Vortex XL of Mark Uitendaal and Leon Krancher with their own J290-SB motor. Due to a technical problem the launch was suspended. So the next launch was Gerben-Jan Ligthart's first rocket. His Alfa was launch on a H238-T and a good flight. It had landed on its fins, of which two broke from the body, but otherwise the rocket was fine. The next launch was of Jan-Hein Ramakers' Nessus. This rocket is a two-stage rocket, but only the first stage had a motor (an H242-T), because it is the rockets first launch with two stages. The rocket had a good flight and all worked as it should have. The second stage went on at an angle which was close to a level flight. With the problems solved the Vortex XL was launched. The motor worked good, but unfortunately the rocket didn't parachuted correctly and was not recovered.
Following this launch was Thiemo van Engelen's Quick & Bright with an H238-T. This rocket had a two-stage parachute system and which worked perfectly. Again a great flight. The big rocket launches ended with two rockets of Bert Koerts. The Paas-ei (Easter egg) and the Payloader. The Paas-ei was to be launched earlier on the day, before the Quick & Bright, but the igniter didn't work, so the Payloader was his first launch of the day. Powered by an H112-J it had a good flight. After yet another igniter failure, the Paas-ei was finally launched. A slow burning K458-W motor provided an easily to follow, but spectacular flight. Unfortunately the surprise confetti wasn't seen by anyone.
After packing, we went home with mixed feelings. It was a great launch, but we have had some crashes too.
ASK 't Harde, 4 April, 2003 - The NAVRO experimental rocket flew on a K1100-T, with a big roar it went straight up, riding a violet flame without smoke. It touched the clouds, but unfortunately came in ballistic. The speed of the rocket was amazing: normally when rockets fly through the sky you don't have a point of reference. When the rocket hit the ground, you could actually grasp the speed. The rocket was reduced to rubble.
Jan-Hein demonstrated that his Nessus kit was ready to fly two stage; The rocket went up, separated and than both chutes came out on apogee of both parts. Now that the principle is proven, JH will fly next time with two motors.
Mark and Leon launched their Vortex XL, again a perfect flight with an experimental motor constructed with garden variety PVC and chemicals. The cost of the motor is low, although the time spend by this team on preparation and development of the rocket is huge. I flew my Paas-ei (Easter-egg) on a 98mm K458-W. The motor burned for 6 seconds, making it a spectacular flight. Recovery was performed by an R-DAS with a backup Dekker Timer. Although the Dekker Team was actually more nervous than me, their timer worked perfectly, beating the R-DAS to ejecting the drogue chute. On 150 metres the main chute ejected.
In another rocket, I had added 1 kilogram of confetti, in the hope that this would be clearly visible from the ground. The rocket (Payloader) was launched on a Blackjack H112-J, but the confetti was not visible from the ground. Next time the payload will be larger!
Gerben-Jan had built his first level 1 HPR rocket. The Alfa was nicely constructed, and flew perfectly. Clearly visible on apogee was the chute, perfectly timed! The HPR members of NAVRO are expecting a lot from GJ in the future!
Thiemo launched his Quick & Bright, and the rocket was true to its name! A Blue Thunder reload accelerated the PaDS experiment quickly to the sky. The new version of PaDS worked perfectly, recovering the rocket in a two stage fashion. Why a third version of PaDS is made is unclear: I have never seen one crash... Perhaps Thiemo likes developing electronics more than producing them!
All in all we had a very nice launch. Thanks to Chiel Klijn with his portable theatre (including drinks) we had entertainment on the Thursday night. We all had a chance to catch up and prepare mentally for the launch next day. The cooperation with the military was again perfect, these guys are as knowledgeable about HPR rockets as we are... We should invite them into the club!