Gene Nowaczyk is aiming for the big prize – a successful launch to 100,000 ft. After 50 hours/week over two years, he drove his custom airframe from Missouri in a huge truck.
Here is prepping the upper section, packed with electronics. He put an incredible amount of work and craftsmanship into this machined metal rocket. Video camera, x-ray measurements (for atmospheric air quality), avionics for GPS, barometric pressure, accelerometer and other sensors, telemetry…
The complexity of this 17 ft. tall rocket even captured the attention of WIRED magazine:
Gene has had his share of failure:
His homebrew Q motor is just huge, about 4x the total thrust of a cruise missile booster, or 64,000 Estes rocket engines, but an aged binder led to air pockets that caused a motor overpressure and rupture overhead.
He plans to build more of the same rocket design. I have witnessed two of his launches. His Q motor flame is 18.5 long. The sound was incredible, deep, and loud…
Our fingers were crossed. Off she roared to Mach 3.5
Success! This photo quickens my pulse.
Gene rocket recorded video during its record-setting launch at BALLS in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. This is a frame grab from the video. The readings are in meters, so this sensor indicated an altitude of ~ 100K ft. The atmosphere ends at 55K ft at this latitude.
This launch was a highlight of the weekend, as celebrated on the cover of the New York Times.
The nosecone is now cooling from a peak of 425° during the ascent. The thermal expansion and contraction of the electronic leads led to a loss of power soon after apogee. But the rocket was recovered in almost perfect shape, with just the paint burned off the nose cone.