by H. Greg Peebles III, P.E.
Director Environmental & Regulatory Compliance
It was Saturday (4/13/13) 7:00AM, the sun was barely up – there was a chill in the air. The FIT steely eyed missile folk of the SRS had gathered. The brave SRS hybrid competitors began the long drive from FIT to the Open spaces of the NEFAR launch complex in the wide open spaces near Bunnell. The weatherman had spoken evil omens of wind and rain. Immediately on arrival at the launch complex the SRS folk sprang into action. In mere minutes the launch system was constructed and their rockets were ready to fly (would you believe a bit longer?).
The NEFAR safety officer gave the GO, the anxious minutes passed as the liquid oxidizer was tanked, venting (a full tank) …3,2,1…WOOSH… the precision altitude rocket leapt off the pad and was out of sight – the First Hybrid Rocket flight of the day – flawless launch – out of sight (wait, this was only supposed to go 2000 feet up…), then when back in sight – horror of horrors the chute deployed, but it was tangled – the ground was coming up way too fast.
The SRS max altitude team prepped their vehicle with the care and speed only borne of practice and determination. They were on the pad, ZERO… WOOSH… my gosh, what’s happening, the rocket is spinning and bouncing like a rubber rod – KA-FOOM – cloud of pieces – the rocket exceed the speed of phenolic. They had re-enforced the vehicle with Kevlar, but what about a near supersonic break-up???
The precision team recovered their vehicle – significant airframe damage from the chute not opening meant hours to try and fly again. An Altitude of 3700’, but the target was 2000. Someone had just flown closer to 2000… although the sky was clear now FIT’s hopes were not looking good.
They day went on and…
The two teams from the FIT Student Rocket Society competed against 8 other teams among 4 Florida Universities in the Florida Space Grant Consortium/Florida Space Institute/Northeast Florida Association of Rocketry Hybrid Rocketry Competition.
In the Precisions altitude competition where the objective is to fly to exactly to 2000’ agl, FIT took First place with a final (second flight of the day) altitude of 1938’ and the most thorough engineering notebooks.
In the maximum altitude competition, FIT took Second Place with a altitude of 1656’ and a thorough engineering notebook. They carefully recovered everything and reconstructed the flight for the judges.
Again this year, FIT took home more points and had the highest overall scoring of all competing schools.