Astronaut: John Shaft
Motor: Cesseroni L730
- "Low altitude" (2500') Show flight
- Make sure all techinical issues with the tower were resolved
- New 'friction fit' tower - stronger than ever for sure this time.
- Capsule Freedom 7's second flight
- G-Wiz avionics for deploying the
recovery system after the free fall
The mechanical aspects of Flight 3b went as designed and demonstrated the flight system has stabilized. The improvements to the tower structure, the capsule nose and the main recovery deployment system resulted in a picture perfect flight. In many ways this was an identical flight to 2d from last year with the capsule landing on the flight line (at Steve Pope's camp) in front of many spectators. (I think Steve and Joe have a thing going on)
The areas that still need improvement are the video tower, capsule camera and the launch tower.
Capsule Camera; Just days before flight I discovered the (heavily) modified Aiptek DV II for the cockpit no longer captured video (but would capture audio). An Aiptek PenCam SD (used in Flight 2b and 2c) was subsequently installed and worked well in all ground testing but failed at launch. My theory is that the initial G force of launch jolted the connections of the SD memory card just enough to shut down the recording process. I'm still reviewing this theory. I was able to recover some video from capsule but it stops short of lift off.
Tower Video; I was trying a new antenna position for the tower camera (BoosterVision Gear Cam) that worked well at close range but suffered from significant signal loss once the tracking system was moved to a safe launch distance. (In hind sight I should have tested that prior to launch).
The video from that is pretty unusable for entertainment purposes but there are brief moments where I can make out what is happening. I may choose to redesign the tower camera to use solid state capture or employ what I call the "Gumby protocol" for recording the downlink. This is a technique I used for many of the Gumby flights where I leave the receiver and recording device at the launch pad, with the patch antenna pointing up. This maximizes the signal capture during the boost phase of the launch but can result in signal loss when the rocket recovers.
Booster Video; This worked perfectly yielding wonderful footage of the flight (to be posted later). If there was anything I would consider changing here would be to come up with a higher resolution capture system. There are some stills of the capsule during free fall that are pretty cool.
Launch Pad/Camera; This time I had enough video tape in the dang thing to get the launch footage and it yielded some interesting information, the pad lifted off the ground about 2 inches during launch! Next time I plan to bring some rebar hooks out to anchor it, I may even build a blast deflector box or heck, even my own pad that resembles the Redstone launch platform. (we'll see).