Friday, May 15, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certification for rocketry.

One of the most frustrating parts of rocketry is dealing with the postal service. Rocket kits and parts ship smoothly through the system but if you buy one pack of igniters or a single rocket motor your delivery time exponentially increases with your distance from the packages origin because you have added a "hazardous material" (or HAZMAT) to your purchase. Because of this I have not been able to progress in the main rocket of my project until just an hour ago when my package, which took a week and a half compared to the usual two days from Michigan, arrived at my doorstep. Instead I took on the path I rarely follow, following the kits artistic directions. My Mini BBX came with decal sheets and spray-painting instructions (which I thought I had completed before my last post) but I misread 1-13/16" as 1-3/16" when cutting the decal sheet so I went all spray paint for this kit. Spray-painting anything more than a stripe on a rocket is another one of the most frustrating parts of rocketry. It took me four separate attempts to make the four red blocks on the base of my rocket but in the end I conquered the artistic aspect of rocketry (which can be seen in the before and after pictures on the bottom half of my rocket above).

In addition to waiting for the delivery of the booster stage of the BBX I made the first steps for the second half of my project, designing a rail launch pad. Most launch pads use rods instead of rails but rods easily bend in the wind or with large rockets attached so for HPR most rocketeers prefer rail pads. When I mentioned the idea to my father and showed him a picture of approximately what I planned on designing and constructing he came home less than a week later with fully constructed pad he and his co-workers built at his shop (the second to last picture above). Instead of just taking the gift and scrapping part of my project proposal I decided to learn how to use Solidworks, and engineering design software. I have contacted a friend of my father who teaches the software and am attending one of his classes next week in addition to studying a book on the program, which he has given to me.

Then, just an hour before I was about to post my blog for the day my package arrived. In the last picture above are all the parts to the booster stage of my kit which you will be able to see as it is assembled via my future posts.

-Ian Brownstein

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