I was looking forward to the July rocket launch. We had missed June’s launch due to a family camping trip to Point Lookout, Maryland. Ben had since departed to Germany for a month long visit with Timo. Joseph and JP had backed out as well. Not wanting to make the long drive myself, I woke my daughter, Monica, up from her deep sleep to see if she would accompany me to the Central Sod Farm. Eventually we worked a deal where she would attend if she could get another piercing. The clock was ticking so I readily accepted, leaving my wife to worry about the details. A coffee stop at 7/11 and we were on our way.
We arrived at the launch field and started to set up. The air was already hot and thick with humidity but there was an uncharacteristic July breeze blowing that made it bearable. Usually rocketeers do not like the breeze, but the hot summer months on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are an exception. I brought only two rockets with me to fly, Shaken, Not Stirred and my Russian V2 variant, R2.
The first rocket was Shaken, Not Stirred. I had already prepared my ejection charges at home and tested all continuity. I hooked the charges to my PerfectFlite HA45K altimeter and successfully completed the built in diagnostics. The PerfectFlite HA45K altimeters have really impressed me and are so economical that I have purchased three just so I do not have to swap out electronics between the various rockets. I assembled my trusted Loki H144 engine and set a long delay of 12 seconds. The purpose of the engine ejection delay is strictly backup. If something happens with the electronics for whatever reason, Shaken, Not Stirred would lawn dart into the ground. However, the engine ejection delay would force the drogue parachute out in case of such a failure and the rocket could still be recovered with minimal damage.
I pried Monica from her nap in the backseat of the Highlander to assist me in prepping the rocket on the launch pad. With many moans and groans and “why me?s”, Monica finally rose and assisted me in getting Shaken, Not Stirred ready. I also took over the picture and video responsibilities in Ben’s absence. I snapped a few photos and fumbled with the zillion options to try to get the camera into video mode.
Shaken, Not Stirred has become a familiar rocket at MDRA launches now and as the countdown ended, the rocket faithfully blasted into the blue skies on its 5th flight. Apogee and drogue deployment occurred directly in the sun and due to the humidity, Shaken, Not Stirred only achieved a max altitude of 1434 feet. It quickly descended from the sun’s blinding rays on its small 18 inch drogue where at 400 feet, the main parachute successfully deployed. It majestically floated on its main parachute before gently touching down in the soft sod, just yards from the launch pad. I smiled inside but kept my mouth shut as not wanting to upset the rocket gods again. Witness my video skills here. Also, check out the sneak peak of Quantum of Solace. Yes, I already know, I have James Bond issues.
The next rocket was my newly repaired Russian V2 variant, R2. R2 suffered a hard landing on a compacted tractor road and broke a fin after I upset the rocket gods at this very field two months prior. I assembled a Loki G80 and debated on the necessary ejection delay. I ended up configuring a 7-second delay thinking the rocket will achieve a greater altitude in these smaller breezes. At the end of the countdown, R2 quickly accelerated off the launch pad and once again disappeared into the sun. When it exited from the sun’s rays and came back into view, it was coming straight down, and fast. The tickle of vomit started in the back of my stomach and after what seem like an eternity, the main parachute finally deployed. R2 descended on its 36-inch yellow chute and gently touched down without damage in the soft sod mere feet from its launch point. Once again I smiled internally but bit my lip and refrained from showing any external signs of jubilation. Listen to the ejection charge here.
I was satisfied with my two rockets, the two successful flights, and the zero repairs for the day. Not wanting to push fate, I cleaned my engines and sat back sipping a cold and well-deserved Gatorade while watching the other rockets taking flight. I then noticed a fellow member with a dejected look on his face. Having experienced this look many times myself, I realized that he lost his rocket. His rocket was the first flight of the day and shredded at about 3000 feet while traveling at warp 9. He had spent all morning searching for his rocket with its expensive electronics. Thinking this might get me some brownie points with the rocket gods, I volunteered my services. I saw the rocket’s flight and had a pretty good idea where it came down. We walked straight to the electronics bay which had separated and came to rest at the edge of a corn field. He was happy that he recovered his 400 dollars worth of still functioning electronics. We then proceeded to systematically search the waste-high corn field looking for the sustainer but after an hour the sun proved too hot and the breeze too low, so we gave up. The Combines will find it in the fall.
Monica was anxious to get home so at 03:00 PM I reluctantly started our trek home. I was anticipating sitting in the return traffic from the beach but we must have slipped through the cracks. Our journey home was quick and uneventful. The rocket gods were kind to me this weekend.
Hopefully we will have Ben’s Warp Drive repaired and possibly the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 ready for its maiden flight for the next launch in August.
Monica got a ear cartilage piercing in her left year. Errr!