ASK 't Harde, 10 April, 2008 - The number of launch days available this year at the military shooting range ASK 't Harde were a bit restricted due to a new environmental license at the range. This meant we were to organize our launches together with the NERO, the other Dutch amateur rocketry group. After a meeting it was decided we would each hold our own launches next to each other on the same days this year, as our procedures weren't compatible. The NERO was to launch from the old spot and we were to launch from a spot 130 meters to the west. This is actually an improvement, as it is more in the centre of the range. Good agreements were made that no launches took place while the other was preparing rockets near their launch towers. We were to have dinner and stay the night together in a nearby hotel.
The usual setup of the launch site the Wednesday before the launch day was a bit "disturbed" by some shooting by the Dutch army, who were firing mortars and machine guns. Nonetheless the launch towers were quickly erected. Meanwhile the preparation of the rockets and motors had also started in some small buildings on the other side of the site. All rockets were prepared and certified, apart from one which took some late night work to complete. When we went to the hotel the NERO finally arrived. After some spare time in the hotel, we had a nice, but simple, meal together with the NERO. They went back to the range to integrate their H12 rocket and we had a great evening in the hotel.
Thursday after breakfast in the hotel we went to the launch site and started the final preparations to the rockets. The weather was fine and there was almost no wind. Before the launches the public was invited to see the rockets, which were displayed in the grass near the launch towers. The first launch window started with Bert Koerts' favourite, his Orange. It flew perfect on an AeroTech K185L. Later that day, when it was returned by the military recovery team it was discovered its lower body tube was ripped open and had a nasty zipper. Following the Orange was René Hofsteden's AMRAAM 3, which was ready in the smaller launch tower. On previous NAVRO launches it had several misfires, but this time it was ignited right away and flew perfect on an AeroTech I211W. Over at the NERO tower the REDOX-3 of Bert Kimpe (VRO) was launched successful. Later is was discovered its motor had a leakage during flight, but it flew fine anyhow. The last rocket in this window was the Aeolus (SRP8) of DARE. DARE's first year members have a competition in which they have to launch an egg and recover it intact. This is the first of these SRP rockets, which all have SRP motors. The Aeolus was launches successful on four SRP motors, but it did not parachute and crashed after a ballistic flight.
During preparation for the second window, both DARE's SRP10 and Pleun Punt's P-Region Tomahawk were readied. Both however misfired their first time. The small SRP10, with a single SRP motor, was launched at its second attempt. It flew a bit unstable and went ballistic. The P-Region Tomahawk's AeroTech I284W motor unfortunately was not ignited at its second and final attempt. Meanwhile the NERO had Bert Kimpe's second rocket ready to launch. His MINI-PARSEC looks more like a Space Shuttle than a rocket, but flew very well nonetheless. Unfortunately it landed on a concrete slab road and was severely damaged. Next was Bert Koerts' huge Paas-ei. Its peculiar squat AeroTech K458W motor provided for a great flight, as usual.
For the third window the both DARE's CanSat Launcher v5 and Bert Koerts' Payloader were prepared and placed in the launch towers. The CanSat Launcher v5 was launched first on a DX1-EE motor. It changed course during flight, went over the spectators heads and landed with an entangled main parachute outside the terrain. When it was returned several parts were bent and its onboard video camera destroyed. The most likely reason it flew unstable was its small surface area at the tip of its small triangle fins. The Payloader flew very well and at its top it deployed, apart from the parachute, a cloud of reflecting dark material. Next was DARE's SRP XI with a triangle body and three SRP motors. During launch it proved wind sensitive and went ballistic. NERO's H12 was launched next and it flew fine, but failed to parachute and went ballistic too. When recovered all that was left of the meter long upper part of the rocket, was its pleasingly crushed aluminium body tube which was now 15 cm long and contained the electronics and the nose cone. Its fins and parachute compartment were bent. We hope the NERO discovers the problems they have soon, as it is their third ballistic flight in a row.
The fourth and final window started with Robin Trap's Ad Astra with a K-570 motor made by Mark Uitendaal and Leon Krancher. Robin Trap can be proud, as it had one of the greatest flights of the day. The last launch was that of the SRP12, which was launched fine on three SRP motors. The day ended with a motor test of DARE, which went very well. The launch towers were rapidly dismantled. The site cleaned in no time as well and we all went home.
Thanks to the ASK 't Harde staff, DARE-members and of course the NAVRO-members for their support this launch.
See you all soon at a future launch!