Rocketry News

Congratulations to the many TARC teams that competed in this years contest. The team from Creekview High School in Canton GA won the 12th annual competition this past weekend.


place Score Team Number Team Name City State
First Place – $10,500 14.88 14344 Creekview High School (Team 1) Canton GA
Second Place – $9,500 18.1 14524 Rotary Youth Leadership Association Northville NY
Third Place – $9,000 26.24 14280 Northview High School (Team 2) Sylvania OH
Fourth Place – $3,000 26.72 14436 Presidio High School (Team 4) Presidio TX
Fifth Place – $3,000 29.56 14212 Explorer Post 1010 Rockville MD
Sixth Place – $3,000 32.2 14605 Madison West High School (Team 4) Madison WI
Seventh Place – $3,000 32.24 14287 Krueger School of Applied Technologies (Team 4) San Antonio TX
Eighth Place – $3,000 34.44 14584 Penn Manor High School Millersville PA
Ninth Place – $3,000 41 14286 Krueger School of Applied Technologies (Team 3) San Antonio TX
Tenth Place Team – $3,000 49.2 14336 Amory High School Amory MS

There is a new OpenRocket release over at

Here are the changes:

1)  Flight configurations have been streamlined.  Instead of using a
dialog, it is now a tab on the the main frame.
2) Motor filtering has been enhanced
3) Sorting in the Simulation table is now supported.
4) Chinese translations have been added.
5) 3d libraries have been updated and reportedly helps on some platforms
6) Fix to critical bug introduced by Java 1.7.0_45-b18 which effected
drag & drop in the rocket component tree.

From Sampo Niskanen:


OpenRocket version 13.09 has been released.  Most of the work in this release has been behind-the-scenes.  Visible updates include numerous bug fixes, updated 3D JOGL libraries, and separated simulation edit and plot dialogs.

You can download the latest version from

A big thanks to the team for their work!
   Sampo N.”



From Semroc:

“We have just released five new kits just before NARAM-55. The two “War in Space” kits from Centuri are done. The Satellite Killer™ and the Red-Eye™ were the only known entries, but we have some more wraps to extend the series. More later in this memo. TheEgg Crate™ from Centuri is complete. It now has two interchangeable mounts included. Fly with a singel 24mm, long or short, or dual 18mm engines. Two new Groonies are released. The Yung’un’s Nuke™ and the Snake Jumper™ have been in the works and are finally finished.” -Semroc Press Release

The Snake Jumper is a kit version of the Evel Knevel’s Sky Cycle in which you can download and build the cardstock version for free from here. Just go to my Ultimate Paper Rocket Guide.

on board camera from flight

UPDATE 2: Prize is confirmed. Photo from “Winning the Carmack Prize”. Team site here.

UPDATE: Even though all requirements are met according to the rules the final word will have to come from John Carmack

Team of rocketeers have now had a successful Carmack Prize attempt.

Team: Ken Biba, Casey Barker, Erik Ebert, Becky Green, Jim Green, David Raimondi, Tom Rouse and Steve Wigfield

Altitude:104,659 feet

Avionics: (Raven+RDAS, Beeline GPS (70cm APRS), GoPro2 + WiFi BacPac)in booster and sustainer

Payload:Smartphone+sensors (APRS telemetry)

Motors: AeroTech N1000W staged to a AeroTech M685W

Launched from: Black Rock, NV

Date: September 11, 2012

Recovery: within 6 hours of launch


Carmack Prize

The Rules:

  1. The prize is $5000 USD, and has been augmented with a further $5000-$5500 by the people listed at the end of this page. The collection of the prize from each benefactor is up to the prize winner.
  2. The launch attempt must be registered by a post to aRocket at least 30 days prior to the attempt, with the following information:
    • A reasonable description of the vehicle
    • The launch location
    • The launch date
  3. The rocket must gain 100,000 feet from launch altitude using rocket propulsion.
  4. The rocket must record a GPS serial log of the flight with at least one report above 100,000ft plus the launch altitude.
  5. The rocket must be recovered essentially intact, the recovery system having functioned.
  6. The rocket must be recovered within 24 hours of launch.
  7. A report on the vehicle and operations must be made available on the web for posterity, with a level of quality suitable for publishing in a magazine. The report’s author retains copyright.
  8. Good video of at least the launch must be shared. Ideally video is captured of the entire flight to recovery, but this is not required.
  9. If multiple stages are used, they must all be recovered successfully.
  10. Armadillo Aerospace is disqualified from the competition.
  11. The competition is judged by John Carmack.

ULA Intern Rockets (click for PDF) image src: ULA





The 2012 Intern Rocket Launch at United Launch Alliance and Ball Aerospace is scheduled for July 28th in Pueblo,CO.
Interns will launch a series of large rockets including one called the Future Rocket at 300 lbs and 25 feet in length it is purported to be the largest model rocket launched in Colorado. The Interns use the rocket projects to go around to schools and teach aerospace and rocketry to students. Many of the payloads are designed by high school students.

Future Rocket Stats

Rocket Name: Future
Rocket Built By: ULA Interns in 5 states (AL, CA, CO, FL, TX)
Overall Height: 25 feet
Liftoff Weight: 300 lbs
Stages: 2
1st Stage Engines: N2000W (2)
2nd Stage Engine: N2000W (1)
Total Impulse: 9000 lb-sec
Oxidizer: Ammonium Perchlorate
Fuel: Hydroxyl-Terminated Prolybutadiene (HTPB)
Flight Computers: 2
Video Cameras: 3 (additional cameras on payloads)
Electronic Timers: 25
Max Altitude: 10,000 feet
Max Velocity: 400 mph
Max Acceleration: 5.5 G’s
Airframe Structure: Carbon Fiber

Close-up spectator viewing of the rockets will be from 9-10 a.m.Launches will start at approximately 10:30 a.m. and finish close to noon.
Spectators are invited to attend but must RSVP here( to receive detailed information about the launch.  After RSVPing, we will send an email reply with schedule, map/directions and further even information.
20 payloads built by college interns and high school students will beboosted into the sky by these rockets. High school teams may apply to have their payload(s) launched.
Payload information

Press Release AIA:

“Students from Madison West High School in Madison, Wis. placed first at the 10th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge finals Saturday, besting 99 teams from across the country to earn the title of national champion in a contest that puts kids on track for careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”

Read entire release here

TOP 20

See Full list here

This year there has been more coverage in mainstream media than I have seen in the past. This morning I saw CBS Sunday Morning cover the 11th place Team from Presido TX.

Story on CBS Sunday Morning 

Even Huffington Post covered TARC this year

The Estes 2012 Full catalog has been officially released.  Pro series motors (as seen above), Nike Smoke(42 inches!), semi-scale V-2,  and the Astron Skydart II are among the new items available.

Catalog can be downloaded here

Looks like Hobbylinc has the Pro Series Motors at 35% off

Slashdot has a wonderful video interview with Derek Deville. Derek walks us around the shop and talks about the construction of the Qu8k rocket. It’s great how much support Derek got from his employer Syntheon LLC. Kudos to them.

Story and Video here

Dawn at the Cape as the Falcon 9 sits vertical awaiting to make history : photo credit: Elon Musk

Rocketry News Bits for this week

New Morpheus test successful

Stolen NASA laptop contained space station control codes

Smithsonian plans 4-day festival to welcome space shuttle Discovery to its 
Washington Post

The Many Ways You Can Pretend to Be an Astronaut
The Atlantic

On the Horizon for 2012

Classic helpful Hints from 1987

UPDATE: Derek will be answering any questions you may have over at Slashdot. Click here to submit a question.

Derek Deville holds camera unit from the Qu8k rocket

I have been meaning to write about this for days. This is the incredible Carmack Prize Attempt launch of the Qu8k rocket at Balls 20. This is one of the more exciting amateur launches reaching 121,000 feet and travel up to 2180 mph. It goes to show you how as individuals near space is within reach using High Power Rocketry techniques. I must commend Derek Deville for a job well done. Unfortunately one of the rules of the Carmack Prize states that “The rocket must record a GPS serial log of the flight with at least one report above 100,000ft plus the launch altitude.” and it is the understanding of the Rocketry Blog that the GPS data was unfortunately lost.

“On September 30, 2011 at 11:08am, Derek Deville’s Qu8k (pronounced “Quake”) launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to an altitude of 121,000′ before returning safely to earth. Above 99% of the atmosphere the sky turns black in the middle of the day and the curvature of the earth is clearly visible.”

Link here to the Qu8k Website


Estes has just released a new product. Motor adapters – both mini to standard(13mm to 18mm) and standard to D(18mm to 24mm).
This is a product that has definitely been needed for years. I’ve used spent motors for years(cleaning out used D and inserting standard) or I’ve also created adapters using motor tubes and centering rings. These new adapters are nothing like either. Take a look below.

Estes mini to standard adapters

 Link to Mini to Standard

Link to Standard to D

Estes now has full catalogs posted back to 1969. According to Estes “We have a summer intern who has been patiently scanning old catalogs and has most back through 1970 posted. Wow 40 years and counting. We hope to have all before the end of the summer.”

There are even a couple Centuri catalogs.

Estes Catalog Repository

My favorite little rocket company just released 5 new rockets for NARAM-53.

Moon Glo™


Aerobee 150™


Baby Orion™

A new version of the great freeware rocket stability and design software OpenRocket is now available. The new version is 1.1.5.

This release removes support for native printing from OpenRocket, instead printing
is performed through the platform’s PDF viewer.  This should make
printing much more reliable and less bug-prone.  Printing should now
work on all Windows systems.”  -Sampo Niskanen

OpenRocket can be found here

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