SPIT Finds Rocket Cam 2
BELVIDERE, IL – Hope was not running high for the Space Program in Training this morning.
“It rained pretty hard last night,” said Daniel. “We didn’t know what would be left of the Rocket Cam 2 even if we found it.” Overnight, Bob had played back the video taken of the flight and gotten a better idea of the direction Rocket Cam 2 might have flown.
“I lost the rocket before it crashed, but I did manage to keep it in the frame after the parachute tore away,” said Bob. “It looked like it had shifted more to the east than where we looked the day before.” The ground around the cul-de-sac launch site was muddy and parts of the gully to the east of the launch site had standing water. More rain was in the forecast. Bob and Daniel began working along the site line established by the video footage and searched back and forth out to about 500 yards from the launch site.
By their third pass, they were down in the gully itself. Mosquitoes were thick. They had to hop from dry spot to dry spot to continue. Every so often one or the other would notice an odd shape or color in the grass. While one checked it out, the other stayed in place so they could restart the search without overlooking any area. After forty five minutes, their concerted effort paid off. Daniel noticed a bright yellow spot about halfway up the wall of the gully about 175 yards southeast of the launch site. Despite the crash and the rain, Rocket Cam 2 was in surprisingly good condition. The rocket was complete. None of the fins were broken. The body tube had bent slightly and there were odd tears on the reflective tape strips.
“We think maybe a bird pecked at it because it was shiny,” said Bob.
The onboard video camera had been jammed down into the nosecone at the time of the crash. After bringing the rocket home, Bob was able to extract it with a pair of needle nose pliers. Surprisingly the camera was in perfect working order. A quick check showed it had not only recorded the flight and the crash, but continued to record for close to an hour afterward until the memory card in the camera filled up.
“It was jammed in the nosecone, so there wasn’t anything to see,” said Bob. “But we could hear cars drive past, we heard what sounded like a bird landing nearby. Once I heard us talking from far away, calling back and forth.” While Bob believes Rocket Cam 2 could fly again, he’s decided to retire it rather than take a chance.
“We have a new Load Star kit ready to be converted into Rocket Cam 3,” said Bob. “I’d rather start with a new rocket than risk another crash or unstable flight where the Rocket Cam 2 was totally destroyed or lost.”
“Still, maybe we’ll keep it around and launch on special occasions,” he added.