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