Jodrell's new space race
What with telescope time coming up, schedules to prepare, funding applications due in soon (not that I stand much chance of succeeding mind you) and a school visit coming up on Tuesday, things are a bit busy just now! Teaching starts this week as well, so I'll be spending one day a week travelling to Manchester and back for the next three months or so. Still, I'm making time to keep visitors entertained with Ask an Astronomer sessions again this weekend and this afternoon, as the Sun was setting, my rocket flew from the Mk 2 field.
This little rocket is a good few years old now, and has flown successfully on many occasions. Today's launch was a good one. The weather was perfect: clear blue skies with only the tiniest bit of wind. Once all the minor hiccups had been resolved (like having the right key for the explosives box, wedging in the ignitor with a stick and putting new batteries in the launch controller) the rocket blasted off from the pad watched by Bill, the security guard, and Mark and Ian, two of the telescope controllers. A perfect launch was followed by a not-so-perfect descent as the old elastic shock cord gave up and snapped, leaving the body and parachute seperate. While the body came down with a muddy splat in the next field, the nose cone and 'chute drifted off into the sunset, unlikely to be seen again.
Still, it was fun. The body was recovered suprisingly easily, after climbing through a hedge and squelching round the field for a bit, but there was no sign of the rest of it. It will fly again, though, as a new nose cone can be easily made from some good card, a new 'chute can be made from a plastic bag, and the shock cord is just a piece of light elastic. May be I'll build a new pad too, then we can drag race rockets at the summer barbecue...