wiki/ news/ 2009-05-31 - Successful launch of LV2.3 in Brothers, Oregon

  1. Success!!
    1. Launch information
      1. Saturday morning drive and afternoon setup
      2. Sunday morning prep
      3. Sunday afternoon launch.
      4. Videos
      5. Launch Data
    2. Data Analysis
      1. High Speed Video
    3. Notes on the launch
    4. Next steps:
    5. Things to bring for next time:
  2. Pre-Launch Logistics
    1. Launch Details
    2. Launch-Specific Information
    3. Timeline
    4. Lodging
    5. Weather
    6. Transportation
      1. People, cars and stuff leaving Saturday morning
      2. People showing up independently


We successfully launched Launch Vehicle 2.3 (LV2.3) this weekend in Brothers, Oregon, at the Oregon Rocketry's Brothers Launch Site.

Launch information

Saturday morning drive and afternoon setup

We gathered at Tim's house Saturday morning at 9:00am to pack all of our rocket bits: launch tower, antennas, launch control table, etc. We managed to pack it all into the back of Dave's pickup truck and in Dan's brother Bill's "Toy Hauler" - a large 5th wheel ATV carrier (thanks Dan! thanks Bill!). It was pretty amazing, actually: it was probably the fastest packing and smallest number of vehicles carrying rocket bits we've ever had since LV0. And, amazingly, we actually left on time.

We arrived in Brothers around 5:00pm, and in the last few hours of sunlight, managed to raise the launch tower and set up the antennas.

Done with setup
Saturday evening sunset
Thunderstorms to the west
Courtesy Zander Speaks

Saturday evening we stayed up late carefully prepping the avionics module and Dan's helicopter... but we - shockingly- even managed to get some sleep.

This was an "airframe only" launch, but we still managed to cram in a bunch of systems into the rocket:

Dave and payload
Andrew working on payload
working late into the night
Dan working on his helicopter

Sunday morning prep

Sunday morning we got back to work 9:00am, did a final checkover of the avionics, attached the igniters, buttoned up the rocket, and took it to the launch tower.

Rocket Cam
Launch Tower Computer
Prepping the launch tower
Putting together the rocket (avionics through motor bay)

We were ready to go by about 12:45pm, just in time the 12:30pm - 2:30pm waiver that Jeff of BORG called in for us. Again, surprisingly, we were ready to go, we just had to wait for a cloud break. After waiting about 30 minutes for a largish patch of blue sky, we turned on the avionics system(s), and cleared the pad.

Pete loading the N motor
Courtesy Zander Speaks
Ready to go
Courtesy Zander Speaks
Rocket and launch tower
Courtesy Zander Speaks

One fun distraction was Dan's electric "T-Rex" helicopter. He strapped our spare camera and 2.4 GHz ATV transmitter to the nose and buzzed launch control and the launch tower. We had high hopes to catch the launch from the helicopter's perspective, but a loss of RC control made the 'copter crash and snap a blade. Next time!

Helicopter pre-flight
Helicopter on its way!
Courtesy Zander Speaks,
RC Helicopter flight movie (14 MB)

Sunday afternoon launch.

Ian hit the "launch" button at about 1340 PDT in our Java "LaunchControl" software that he patched for this airframe-only flight, and it counted down and launched the rocket over the WiFi link to the launch tower. The rocket leaped off the pad on Pete Ekstrom's "N" motor with a eery blue glow. We heard two large reports, which later we figured out was the motor "chuffing" (overpressuring).

Courtesy Zander Speaks
Blast left by motor
Courtesy Zander Speaks


Short video from the ground

600 FPS High Speed Camera view of liftoff

Onboard View

We lost track of the rocket as it went above the cloud layer, and we all desperately were hoping the parachute system would work. Keith lost telemetry for a a few seconds, but once he got it back, he was able to announce that we were falling slowly enough that we should be on the drogue.

Looking for chutes!

And indeed, about a minute after that, the drogue and rocket were sighted.

LV2.3 falling on the drogue
Rare shot of the main deploying
Nosecone and main body

Finally, the ARTS board fired the line cutters and the main chute came out. To top it all off, the rocket landed only a few hundred feet from the launch tower!

Nose cone and drogue parachute on ground
rocket body and main parachute on ground
Courtesy Zander Speaks
A well used motor

And just in time, too: about an hour after the launch, the winds whipped up and started blowing over tents and people, and it started to drizzle. We packed up in record time, and headed back to Portland.

All in all, a perfect flight!

Also thanks to:

Thanks to PSU, NASA, IBM...
Courtesy Zander Speaks
... and the IEEE AESS
Courtesy Zander Speaks

Launch Data

All raw and processed data is here:

TODO: Post graphs and final altitude and velocity numbers.

Data Analysis

High Speed Video

Using the calibration board behind the launching rocket and the high speed camera we are able to extract high quality data from the first few moments of flight.

Using the open source video analysis tool Tracker we are able to estimate the altitude, velocity, and acceleration of the rocket over the first 0.3 seconds of flight.

Using Tracker:

The large black and white blocks of the calibration board are 30 cm in height. A calibration stick is used to set the size of pixels in the video. Then the position of the rocket is tracked with the subpixel tracking feature in Tracker. The axis is set such that the motion of the rocket is assumed to be entirely vertical.


Data from the fight speed video shows a smooth take off.


Some noise seeps into the data now, but smooth acceleration is shown here.


The rocket comes up to about 10 g's almost immediately. Because of the double differentiation and the quantization noise in the image, the acceleration graph is very noisy, this one has been smoothed heavily.

Notes on the launch

Next steps:

Things to bring for next time:

Pre-Launch Logistics

The launch of Launch Vehicle No. 2.3 (LV2's third airframe) is taking place at a Oregon Rocketry's "pick up" launch under research launch rules, courtesy the Bend Oregon Rocketry Group.

Launch Details

The actual launch is taking place:

Launch-Specific Information

Checklists for May 31st Launch

Launch Procedures for May 31st Launch


Time Date Activities
8:00am Saturday 5/30 Meet at Tim's house in Tigard, and pack up remaining rocketry supplies. Go over final checklists.
10:00am - 2:30pm Saturday 5/30 Drive to Brothers, Oregon launch site (4.5 hour drive).
3:00pm - 7:00pm Saturday 5/30 Set up in Brothers, with dinner.
Evening Saturday 5/30 Final prep, marshmallow roast, star viewing.
10:00am - 12:00pm Sunday 5/31 Final prep, watch BORG launches.
12:00pm - 1:00pm Sunday 5/31 Target time for launch of LV2.
1:00pm - 3:00pm Sunday 5/31 Recovery LV2, pack up, watch BORG launches.
3:00pm - Evening Sunday 5/31 Return to Portland (4.5 hour drive)



Possible showers on Saturday, partly sunny on Sunday. It'll be ~ 60-70 during the day, but it's going to get awfully chilly at night. Here's the weather forcast.


People, cars and stuff leaving Saturday morning

Who In What Other people? With What
Andrew red van 1, maybe 2 tools, pop-up tents, etc., 2nd Yeasu for backup
Dan truck? ? "Toy hauler", tools, rocket.
Dave truck Candace, 3-4 other people Dan's trailer, with launch tower and other large things, and tools.
Glenn car No HTs, arrow antenna, 2x SLA batteries, SWR meter, 2m birdfeeder.
Ian car 1 nothing

People looking for rides who have not yet found one:

People not caravaning:

Who In What Other people? With What
Maria car Kate, Chase -
Bart car Keith, Jules, Ian Duffe -
K car Paula, 1-2 others -

People showing up independently