Flight 1a Flight 2a Flight 2b Flight 2c Flight 2d Flight 2e Flight 3a Flight 3b

Flight 3a launch report

Earning an L3 the hard way!

Flight 3a


Astronaut: Gordon Cooper

Motor: Aerotech M1315


  • Level 3 certification flight
  • First flight on new fully rebuilt Redstone

Technical details

  • New 'friction fit' tower - stronger than ever (?)
  • Capsule Freedom 7's first flight
  • G-Wiz avionics for deploying the recovery system after the free fall

Redstone Booster Video Notes: 

You can see the tower come off about 50% into the flight (little flash of red). Though not the desired result, I did design the system to be able to survive this sort of event. (Previous version weren’t).

You can see the ejection charge puff at apogee followed by the free fall of the capsule.

The drogue chute for the booster's main chute got stuck in its deployment bag. The deployment bag (attached to the capsule)  broke free leaving the drogue still wrapped up.  You can see the wrapped drogue knocking against the side of the booster until it finds a nice calm spot between the fins.  This prevented the main chute from being extracted at apogee.

Eventually turbulence kicks the bag off and the chute briefly inflates then breaks free. Thankfully this stops the ballistic trajectory of the booster and it then begins a flat spin. This also aids in extracting the main chute which then fully inflates.

At landing you can see the right fin bend under the pressure (the fin is only “softened” and was trivial  to repair.)  Amazingly the booster suffers no other damage – considering the chute opened maybe 40 feet above the playa.

Escape Tower video Notes:  there is a bunch of signal noise but still this footage rocks! The best theory to why the tower came off is that the base support ring broke under the stress.  I had made it out of ¼” aircraft plywood but the drilled holes for the struts no doubt made it weaker.  I had meant to build this out of aluminum, but never got around to it (and the plywood seemed adequate).