Failure is always an option
You see it all began like this...
Frank Mac said, "Wouldn’t it be fun if we could attach a plane to a water rocket & have it launch and release" and we said "yes"
And thus began the silliness. McPherson Rockets handled the propulsion, Mysliborski Engineering handled the Shuttle release mechanism & Foley Aviation purchased the aircraft hereafter referred to as the Shuttle & I made the tea.
On a bright sunny morning (it was a Friday) we assembled at launch HQ and proceeded to assign responsibilities
- Professor McPherson was Rocket Launch Director
- Captain Foley was Pilot in Charge of Shuttle flight
- Dr Mysliborski (Dip Eng) was made Videographer charged with videoing the event for future study
- Myself Daniel Jenkins (Dip Switch), I was promoted (from Tea boy) to Parachute Deployment Manager
The first flight left the launchpad successfully, but we discovered the launch arched over seriously. The pilot in charge of the Shuttle released (upside down) & the rocket flew on, now horizontal. The Parachute Deployment Manager (he's made of Stern stuff) kept flying until the fuel (water) was exhausted & then successfully deployed the parachute. Unfortunately the flightpath of the rocket caught the Videographer off guard & it flew over his head (he's new to the job) so the video of the event fails to capture the true essence of the first flight.
Anyway, Take two, we angled the launch vehicle a lot more & also applied elevator offset onto the Shuttle to compensate for the arched flight. The launch went successfully & whilst the rocket flightpath was still effected by the Shuttle, it was deemed a successful rocket flight & shuttle release.
Now the rocket flight trajectory was still a problem, so we consulted a Rocket expert via teleconference, Rick Talman (he charges by the word for consultancy, so we had to be quick) he said something very posh sounding like "your thrust to weight ratio is too low". To fix this you need more thrust. Well, we the Rocket Launch team thought this sounded very clever, so we had two choices, add more water, or more pressure. It was decided to do one thing at a time, so we upped the pressure from 200PSI to 220PSI.
We then began the countdown on launch three. Things went wrong at around 217PSI. If you listen carefully to the video, you can hear the Launch team's reaction to this indecent, which has been slowed down for scientific analysis . (Use the View YouTube Clip button to see clip in a bigger window)
Awesome video by Andrew Mysliborski
Anyway fun was had by all. Unfortunately nothing of value survived, but a new rocket & plane have been acquired & a new round of testing will begin shortly.