Congratulations to all involved on a spectacular day at Fort Carson! The Future Heavy and Genesis rockets appear to have had nearly flawless flights. Preliminary reports indicate no significant anomalies, and all vehicle systems performed as expected. All parachutes appear to have ejected and fully deployed as planned, and all payload deployment systems appear to have worked. It is too early to report any payload results, but we were able to find and recover 12 of the 15 payloads, including all the larger primary payloads from Ball Aerospace, STEM Academy, and SHARC Teams.
All sections of Future Heavy and Genesis were recovered in good condition, except that Future Heavy was recovered with just 3 of its 8 fins attached. The first stage performed nominally, with all 8 engines igniting successfully. After booster stage separation, the spent booster (flying solo) was unstable and tumbled at nearly 400 mph, liberating all four fins (not an unexpected result). The upper stage phase of flight was nominal, with both engines igniting and performing as planned. Because the parachutes all deployed from the rear of the rocket, the 31-ft-long upper stage section hit the ground fwd end down, then tipped over, landing on one of the fins, which broke. Fins were designed to be removed and replaced, so with five new fins and some additional minor repairs, Future Heavy can be refurbished to good as new.
It is not yet known if the apogee goal of 10,000 ft. above ground level was achieved. Avionics/altimeters are buried deep within the rocket, and it will take a week or so to disassemble the rocket and retrieve the data.
“It was a thrill and an honor to be part of such a special team that launched the world’s largest sport rocket. You all helped the dreams come true for the 300+ students who have worked on this rocket the past five summers. I am truly grateful to all involved for allowing us to make this event happen, especially our wonderful hosts at the Fort Carson Army Post,” Greg Arend, Additive Manufacturing Development Leader with United Launch Alliance.
The final as-built rocket specs:
Overall rocket length: 50’ – 1.38” (previous world record – 46’)
Gross liftoff weight: 1245 lbs
Total Payload mass: 146 lbs
Altitude achieved: Actual - TBD (10,000 feet AGL estimated)
Stay tuned for what promises to be an outstanding video of the event, full of shots from cameras on the rocket, on the ground, and on drones hovering over the launch pad. A video will be posted to YouTube.
Read more about past rocket projects at ULALanch.com