P1: Nitrous at Balls in '08


Editor's note: this is the original project proposal, circulated in May of 2007. The current high level summary is available here.

Proposed BALLS '08 Project


  • Prepare for a launch in '09 or '10 of at least 50,000 feet on a nitrous hybrid.
  • Build and launch a hybrid at BALLS '08:
  • Entire project cost to be less than $3K, exclusive of the cost of the trip to BALLS. The budget does not include tooling.

Major Components:

Avionics and Recovery
  • Project Lead: Rik Faith
  • Components:
    • Altitude measurement
    • Recovery system deployment, including apogee detects and ejection system
    • System for locating the rocket once on the ground.
    • Any other payload (e.g cameras, experimental instrumeents)
Air Frame
  • Project Lead: Steve Daniel
    • All tubes, nose cone, fins, couplers.
    • Motor mount and positive retention
    • Includes rail buttons and hard attach points to the airframe
  • Project Lead: Evan Daniel
    • Engine design, development and testing
    • Fuel, ignition.
    • Fill, vent, and dump.
    • Inludes all on-board plumbing, quick-disconnects, etc.
Ground Support
  • Project lead: TBD
    • Nitrous tankage
    • Nitrous chill
    • Fill and dump valves and controls
    • Ignition control
Launch Logistics
  • Project Lead: TBD
    • Nitrous supply, both NC and NV
    • Transportation, lodging.
    • Ground based GPS, communications
    • All launch paperwork (TAP, Tripoli, as required)

Major Schedule Milestones

fall 08: Launch
summer 08: Final logistics; refinement based on test results
April 08: Supersonic Test Launch (MDRA's Red Glare)
winter 07-08: Finish recovery system, test launches
winter 07-08: GSE build-out and test
fall 07: Motor test
fall 07: L3 certification
summer 07: Construct major airframe components
summer 07: Engine test stand and instrumentation
summer 07: Small scale tests, fuel characterization
summer 07: completely design and build an L3 rocket
may 07: finalize high-level design

High level budget:

Motor $600, includes on-board plumbing, quick disconnects
Airframe $300, includes CF, expoxy, phenolic tubes, finishing supplies
Avionics $700, includes ground station
Recovery $100, includes chutes, hardware, shock cord
GSE: $600, includes ground tanks, valves, control boxes
Consumables $200, nitrous and fuel during testing cycles
Overage $500, anything I've not thought of; cost overruns

High level design:

  • 48" x 4" Loki casing, modified as a hybrid.
  • Fueled by PBAN w/ carbon black and possible aluminum loading
  • Chilled nitrous (400 PSI tank pressure)
  • Estimating an M-1000 with approximately 9000 N-S total impulse
  • 280 lbs initial thrust
  • 26 lbs total mass, including fuel, nitrous, flight plumbing
  • 9' x 4" carbon fibre over phenolic.
  • Nose cone will be carbon/glass composite; custom-built
  • Fins will be carbon over glass
  • Finish needs to be smooth as glass. Motor section must be white.
  • 6 lbs (??) exclusive of hardware
  • Custom. Onboard GPS with gound-link for recovery.
  • Altimeter-base apogee detect.
  • Timer back-up apogee detect.
  • 2 lbs
  • Apogee: pair of aerocon 12" artillery chutes? Streamer?
  • Main: pair of aerocon 60" artillery chutes? Bigger? 3 of them?
  • misc hardware, including shock cord, eye bolts, etc
  • 4 lbs
  • 30 lb tank, nitrous chill system.
  • continuous duty valves
  • solid-state valve controller, cat5 control link to LCO

Mass Ratio (Wet to Dry): 38 / 27.5 = 1.4
Flight Plan:
  • approximately 10 minutes fueling time
  • 8 second burn
  • 25 second coast to apogee
  • apogee at 20,000 feet
  • 2 minute descent