Success! Modified Estes Saturn V launch report

Success! Modified Estes Saturn V launch report

Post by Ted Cochr » Tue, 17 Aug 1999 04:00:00


Here's a launch report on the first flight of my Saturn V.

Unlike the AQM-37A that I slaved and slaved over each little nit,  I built
the Saturn V relatively quickly, especially once I'd gotten over the fact
that it wasn't going to get done if I tried to make it perfect!  There are
lots of things to do better next time, but meanwhile this one looks very
presentable and will get flown more,  without a lot of anxiety on my part,
in front of lots of school groups.

Major modifications:

Internal launch lug: I glued a lug inside the base of the body, cut
appropriate holes in all the CRs, and put another lug at the top of the
body. I cut out a hole in a black section of the major transition for the
exit hole.  I also added a fairing inside the parachute compartment to
keep the ejection gases from venting through the launch lug holes.

Motor nozzles:  I wanted to fly with the nozzles in place, so I
decapitated the center nozzle right above the horizontal coolant pipes and
extended the MT right through it.  The nozzles are glued permanently in

Strengthening:  Extra CR, balsa spokes on the lower two CRs, LOC MMT.

Wraps/details:  I cut out the five conduit lines molded into the
interstage wrap, replaced the cut out parts with flat material, and then
glued the more detailed injection molded parts in their place.  Looks lots
better, IMO.

Recovery:  I threw out almost all of the elastic and used Tubular Nylon
from athletic shoe laces instead (see other post).  I used three 24"
chutes, well dusted with corn starch.  I rigged the top half a bit more
horizontally than , suggested, since we fly off of sod and I wanted to
avoid having the base bounce up and force the tower down.  I used kevlar
thread for the rigging.

Finishing:  I tried a bunch of different things on this one.  Testor's
burnishable titanium paint looks pretty close to the right color on the
nozzles and fins--just a tad dark, but way better than the silver used on
the box art.

I used a black Testor's paint pen for all the roll patterns, and found
that with care I could do the edges as well as I typically do with tape.
White was a lot less satisfactory, so I ended up putting the black over a
Krylon gloss white base.

I added 2 oz of nose weight to balance for the nozzles and for using an
E18-4 RMS instead of a D.

Flying weight, including 2 oz of nose weight and chutes but not the motor,
was 17.5 oz.

What I'd do differently:  

--I couldn't find 3M adhesive, and used a spray adhesive for the wraps
that was not great.  Scotch brand next time, whatever it takes to find it.

--balsa or basswood fins, I think.  I have a devil of a time getting the
edges of the fins to stay stuck together without having a huge overlap of

--I'll build up the interstage corregations from evergreen plastic sticks,
and if it goes reasonably well, I'll probably do the intertank wraps that
way too.

--I probably have an extra ounce of nose weight...

--except that I may build the next one for five motors.

--I'll decide early on if I intend to fly it a lot (in which case I won't
fret the details so much--the kids see it from 20 or 100', after all) or
make it a show piece (in which case I don't think I'll build it unless I'm
in traction for six weeks anyway, heaven forbid).

The Saturn V was launched for the first time at the Tripoli Minnesota
August launch yesterday, in near perfect conditions:  75 degrees, sunny
skies, winds light at about 5-10.  I used a copperhead in the E18 because
I couldn't find a firestar to fit the slot in that motor. No matter--the
flight was gorgeous. Lift off was slower than I expected on this motor,
not the D12's realism, but not too far off. Nice climb, and I could easily
see the nozzles and was glad I'd flown with them!

Apogee looked to be about 700', as predicted.  The delay was a bit long,
also as predicted, but the rocket didn't arc over so much as tail slide
into a horizontal fall for a second or two.  All the chutes opened
immediately, so no heart attacks there.  Both parts were recovered near
each other, about 50 yds from the pad. The top half glided on nose first
and was dragged a bit--the top piece of the escape tower broke off, but
was found and reglued.  Next flight I'm going to rig a streamer to the
ring on the CSM to see if I can keep it drifting base first, not nose

All in all, I was very pleased with the flight, and can't wait for a
chance to fly it again.

Also Saturday, I flew a kite spinner as a parachute in my Silver Comet.
Lesson: If you pack them, well, they make good chutes (and they do spin

Deltie Thunder.  Lesson:  If you set it up on the rod so that the wind can
press the fuselage against the rod, you get rod lock :-)

Tethys on an I-211  Great flight! Lesson: The altimeter probably lied when
it reported 65,540 feet.  Also, a 100' nylon streamer destabilizes the
descent quite a bit--I had attached it to the nose, which did a lot of
gyrating around the attached chute and the BT on the way down.  Next time
I'll attach it to the base of the chute.

ARV Condor: Kewl as always.

NCR Eliminator with a separate GI-joe style parachutist:  Glad his chute
was a bit fouled, or he would have hit an LZ in the next county.

Venus Probe on a C5-3:  28th flight on this rocket.  This time, the
Alien's chute didn't open, and he landed on his head--no damage.  I told
him to try harder next time or it would hurt just as much.



My opinions only.


Success! Modified Estes Saturn V launch report

Post by Andy En » Tue, 17 Aug 1999 04:00:00

> Hiya,


> Tethys on an I-211  Great flight! Lesson: The altimeter probably lied
> when it reported 65,540 feet.

                   ^^^^^^--------  :-)

> Also, a 100' nylon streamer

Hmmm...  How wide?  Easy to spot from 10 miles up?


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