CSXT

Enviromental Aeroscience Corporation powers the record breaking CSXT "Go Fast" Rocket 77 miles into space.

In January of '04, eAc was invited to participate in the "Civilian Space Exploration Team's" fourth launch attempt. Within six months we had designed, developed, tested and delivered the largest solid motor ever built by volunteers. The Goal of CSXT was originally set by the "CATS Prize" or Cheap Access To Space with a target of achieving the first "Civilian" rocket to exceed the 100 Kilometer (62.5 Miles) barrier to space for a prize of $250,000. The time limit expired without anybody winning, but a few of the original competitor's, eAc and CSXT, independently continued to pursue the target altitude goal. After years of friendly rivalry, both groups knew that the other team had what the other lacked and a synergism would result if we could join forces.

As a CSXT/eAc team effort with Derek Deville as lead propulsion engineer, eAc worked with CSXT Launch Director Jerry Larson to optimize the thrust, burn time, and total impulse of the motor to guarantee we would meet the minimum altitude requirement with miles to spare. What resulted was an accelerated development program with the single goal of going to space with an all-volunteer crew.

The solid propellant motor contained a derivation of the propellant that Derek had been using for his O and P motors for the past few years. The motor was designated as an S-50000 containing 435 lbs of AP based propellant configured in a monolithic case-bonded grain with a central fin-o-cyl core with a nearly neutral thrust profile. The case was aluminum 6061 with an OD of 10" and 175" long. The end closures were retained with two rows of radial bolts. The nozzle was created from a new process using a combination of graphite, carbon fiber, and ablative materials and featured a bell shaped exit cone. A number of static tests were performed on 3" and 6" hardware to characterize the propellant. A representative length sub scale 6" motor was fired to model erosive burning in the long port motor. A full-scale static firing revealed issues with the motors end closures that were corrected for the flight motor. Chuck Rogers volunteered assistance in designing the test configurations and in addressing issues such as erosive burning and nozzle losses. The propellant, known as D8, in 6" P-motor sub-scale testing had a delivered Isp of 222.6 seconds. This results in a final minimum delivered total impulse of 96,831 lb-sec. We believe that the flight motor should have had a slightly higher delivered Isp due to altitude effects and delivered just over 100,000 lb-sec. Total weight of the motor was 599.5lbs.

Launch operations set-up started on May 15 at the famous rocket test area "Black Rock Desert" just north of Reno, Nevada. Custom control room trailer was set up with full instrumentation. The launch tower was assembled and the radio remote ignition system was verified. Tracking systems were completed and weather balloons with GPS were tested. May 16 started the assembly of the payload and recovery systems along with integration of the payload to the motor. Each sub-system team included souvenirs into the payload section that would later be recovered having made the trip to space! eAc included 15 eAc lapel pins while CSXT included thirty small American flags, one of which recently sold at auction for $1200. The Go Fast team flew four cans of their product Go Fast energy drink. The "fin can" style guidance was installed and the "GoFast" graphics were attached. The last operation of the day required everybody in the camp to carefully slide the rocket into the now horizontal launch tower. Once the rocket was secured the whole tower was tilted to near vertical. Everything remaining was checked off the preflight list and we were ready to launch on the morning of May 17th. The next morning was a perfect day with only mild breeze and partial clouds. The "Go Fast" helicopter cleared the down range recovery area of campers and the target launch window was set at 11:00. After a small delay due to unauthorized vehicles on the down range lakebed, the rocket was successfully launched at 11:11 AM.

The launch was a spectacular visual display with a slight audio delay as the thunderous roar of the engine finally hit us. The motor burn was perfect with a nice smooth shut down. The payload was working well as data was being transmitted along with several tracker beacons. The booster separated at the correct time from the payload section, which was being recovered with a 9' diameter Rocketman parachute. After the extreme altitude and velocity that the rocket traveled, it was a bit difficult finding the payload even with the tracking beacons. The next day the payload was recovered and the quick look at the data downloaded determined that the altitude flown was 77 miles with a maximum velocity of mach 5.5. Our souvenirs were all recovered with only minor damage from the heating effects of the mach 5.5 air friction.

This was the first successful flight by a civilian team to place a 40-pound payload to space! Preparations are being made for next year's flight with the opportunity to fly your payload into space and be recovered. Any customers interested in placing your payload in the next CSXT flight to space contact Derek Deville at eAc (305) 267-7588.

CSXT_flight.mpg

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