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Atomic Turtle - Tri Star

The Tri Star was a Savannah/Hilton Head Area Rocket Club (SHARC, now defunct) project to build a very large rocket for the annual Savannah Science Seminar launch in Orangeburg, SC. Six 11th grade student teams in the Science Seminar each built a high power egg lofting rocket, and had to design the rocket for maximum altitude while building in enough padding for an egg to survive the violent flight.  The student rockets used I motors that produce about 150 pounds of thrust.  That's a lot of power for a two pound rocket.  The G-force of launching alone is enough to crush an unsecured egg.

Every year one larger rocket is launched as a kind of grand finale and in 2005 that rocket was the nine foot tall Tri Star.  Tri Star had a reinforced heavy cardboard airframe, carbon fiber fins, and fiberglass nose cone.  It had to be strong because it's K motor produced over 575 pounds of thrust.  The recovery parachute was a B-52 drag chute triggered by an altimeter and explosive charge.

The build went well but Tri Star suffered two issues during the launch.  We used too much black powder for ejection and while that got the parachute deployed it also damaged the forward payload bay.  Then the rocket landed on a hard patch of ground that ripped one of it's fins loose.  The fiberglass boat tail could not be removed to fix the fin so this ended up being the only flight of the Tri Star.  But it was a very fun engineering project.  As you watch the video keep in mind that this is a nine-foot tall rocket accellerating to 400 knots in less than two seconds.  The audience's reaction confirms how awesome this launch was.

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