After our totally awesome and magical pre-launch evening, we first went looking for Elektra who had wandered off into the dark on her second fun flight the night before. We found her off-site close to the woods. A couple of meters more towards the west and we would not have been able to retrieve her.
We then kicked the launch fest off with the maiden flight of OS 3. All our rockets have custodians who come up with launch ideas for their booster, take care of preparations and come up with nicknames for their babe. Cato Stroppo is custodian of OS 3 and named his vehicle “Archie”. That’s short for Archaeopteryx, the mother of all birds. Cato’s plan was to take the maiden flight of Archie as a reference launch for OxidanSky and, of course, for himself and his vehicle. By reference launch we mean assessing the performance of the “naked” rocket without any payloads, tweaks or modifications.
So Archie was the first one on our incredibly beautiful and awesome new launch pad. Archie took off like a pro, shot straight up and performed very well. Look at that gorgeous lift-off:
The stages separated, but we could soon see Archie come down in several pieces. Something with the parachute had gone wrong.
It came in quite handy that Cato, Archie’s custodian, is OxidanSky’s Launch Disaster Analyst who was quickly hired by Freya after our frosty failures in February. Cato went to work and soon found the reason: There had been too much force on the parachute, the rocket was still ♬ too fast ♬ when the chute deployed. Consequently, the polyimide part of the shock cord cut through the elastsic part. The knot at the other end of the elastic cord slipped through the its attachment hole. Tough luck: Archie had been flown with a D9 motor and came down at quite a speed. It later turns out that though the vehicle is less affected than previously reported: The impact of hitting the ground was strong enough that the motor got pushed into the body of the first stage, destroying the engine mount assembly and the thrust ring. Archie should be able to return to flight after some operations on the patient. Update: Archie is fine and ready to launch again.
This also meant that the second mission Archie had been listed for could not be executed: Archie had been supposed to carry a recoverable satellite with deployable landing legs. We would have loved to see that, but it seems it will have to wait.
In the meantime we’ll enjoy replaying Archie’s flight – here from a different angle:
And yet another, particularly gorgeous one: