He planned to launch the rocket into the cloud-speckled sky above the Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in
Going up would be easy, he said. Coming down is sometimes harder.
That's science for you.
The Dominator, at 11 feet, 1 1/2 inches long, was just a little shorter than the car.
It was considerably longer -- by about 10 feet -- than the beginner rockets carried by a group of high school students who had come to Fentress on
Harden and fellow rocketeer
SEVRA members really, really, really like rockets. A couple members work for
In hobby rocketry, cool launches go up correctly and come down nicely, Harden said. Really cool launches go wrong.
"I don't know a rocketeer out there who hasn't had a really cool flight," he said. "Sometimes the really cool flights get very expensive."
To try to avoid a really cool flight for the Dominator, he equipped it with redundant systems, including three altimeters, three cameras, two tracking devices, Kevlar protective wraps and a hot-pink parachute, which makes it easier to find when all the excitement is over.
In the field, the students listened to a safety briefing by launch control officer
Behind them, assisted by Rogers, Harden assembled the Dominator. He discovered that an important ring was missing, bought one from an on-site vendor for
The students watched their small rockets launch, one by one. The first shot off toward a stand of trees and disappeared. The second rose into the sky, the parachute popped, and it floated back down to the field. Cool.
"Very nice," Devlin said. "Yours is going to be recoverable."
The Dominator had six ejection charges for redundancy. The first-stage motor would produce 450 pounds of thrust for 7?10ths of a second. At 3.52 seconds after liftoff, the second stage would ignite and burn for 3.2 seconds, hurling the 37-pound rocket thousands of feet into the air.
Unless something really cool happened.
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