Sunday, April 26, 2009

Making History By Recreating It (at 1:10 Scale)

Yesterday (Saturday the 25th of April) Steve Eves succeeded in launching his one-tenth-scale recreation of NASA's Saturn V booster. (The Saturn V was the rocket which first took man to the moon over 40 years ago.) One-tenth scale is not small -- the rocket stood over 36 feet tall, and Saturday's launch set a new world record for the largest scale model rocket ever launched.

YouTube: Steve Eves' Saturn V Launch

The project was over ten years in the making, with initial conception in 1995 and construction beginning in early 2007. has the full story: see One Man's Quest to Honor America's Saturn V Rocket.

Saturday's flight was entirely successful and all but flawless. Following ignition and lift-off, the rocket climbed to over 5000 feet in altitude before separating into individual stages and deploying parachutes. Exactly as planned, the individual stages then floated back to the ground for a successful recovery. The first-stage segment even landed vertically, settling back onto its base under its three parachutes in an upright orientation, just as it stood before launch. Massive applause for this amazing achievement.

Watching the video, you can see the model pretty much jumps off the launch pad, as opposed to the original Saturn V, which seemed in no particular hurry to get off the ground. This is due (mostly) to the difference in thrust-to-weight ratios. Mr. Eves used 8000 lbs. of thrust to loft a 2000-lb. vehicle (thrust-to-weight 4:1). In contrast, the Saturn V launch vehicle weighed in at 6.7 million lbs. and was lifted by 7.6 million lbs. of first-stage thrust (thrust-to-weight: 1.13:1).

Not a night launch -- but the next one could be. :) Although if it were me, I might just let this one launch be the one and only. It's hard to top perfection.

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