Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rocket Making Class

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos by 2d Lt Hollerbach and Lt Col Juan Tinnirello

Following a fun aerospace education class #1 (click here for details), on 11 November (happy Veterans’ Day to all), 1st Lt Pat Bitz held the second in a series of Aerospace Education classes.  In this class, participants built and tested 2 rockets from everyday household materials and objects plus a super-secret rocket fuel formula.

Secret rocket fuel formula, photo by 2d Lt Hollerbach
The first rocket built was the Fizzy Flyer, a fun, liquid fueled rocket. Only class participants know the secret formula that was used!  But if you attend the rest of the series, we might tell you… without having to… you know…

The Fizzy Flyers were a lot of fun to build and launch, although time from ignition to liftoff was a bit unpredictable due to the nature of the fuel involved. In theory, one of the advantages of using liquid fuel in a rocket is that its burn can be controlled. That might have been a design shortcoming in our liquid fuel rocket, since we did not have such fine control!

Instructions for making the Fizzy Flyer,
photo by Lt Col Tinnirello
No wonder the second rocket type was designed – based on solid fuel (aka rubber bands).  This one was named after Dr. Robert Goddard, considered by many to be the father of modern rocketry.

Getting ready for launch, photo by
2d Lt Hollerbach

According to CAP’s rocket-making educational materials, during WWI, Dr. Goddard received a grant from the US Army to work on solid fuel rocket projects. One invention from his work during this time was a 3-inch rocket fired through a steel tube – which later evolved into the well-known anti-tank bazooka that was widely used in WWII.

1st Lt Bitz demonstrating how to make a Goddard rocket, photo by Lt Col Tinnirello

Dr. Goddard’s experiments also included fuel feeding devices, propellant pumps, gyroscopic stabilizers, and instruments for monitoring the flight of rockets. Just before WWII, Dr. Goddard was hired to help develop rocket-powered, quick-takeoff propulsion units for the US Navy.

We have now completed the rocket-making portion of Stage One: Redstone Phase of the cadet aerospace education program.

Capt Rivas launching his Goddard rocket,
photo by Lt Col Tinnirello
The third class in this 6-part series will be held at Squadron 188’s headquarters at Oakland Airport on 9 December. Members of other squadrons are welcome to participate.

For those of you senior members that want to learn more about CAP’s internal aerospace education programs, please go check out the requirements for earning the Charles E. Yeager Aerospace Education Award. Our squadron is proud to have a 90+% rate of members having earned the Yeager Awards!  New members, listen up – it’s up to you to get us back to 100%!

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