#95 May 1996
Section 220.127.116.11.095.of the Artemis Data Book
Greg Allison, HALO Program ManagerHAL5 Chapter Builds "Rockoon" To Reach Space
In 1994, the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5), a chapter of the NSS,
began its biggest project ever, Project HALO (for "High-Altitude Lift-Off").
The goals of the project are no less than to provide cheap access to space for high school and college students, small clubs, even scientific researchers.
Project HALO was conceived to explore the scientific and economic potential of using high altitude balloons as launch platforms for rockets. This concept, known as a "rockoon," was first used by Dr. James Van Allen in the 1950s to conduct pioneering studies of the upper atmosphere. Once large military rockets became available, the rockoon concept was abandoned by most researchers.
HAL5 thus started Project HALO as a means to use today's better balloon and small, safe, hybrid rocket technology to push the rockoon concept to its full potential as an economical means of reaching extremely high altitudes.
By end of 1995, HAL5 had sent balloons three times to 100 thousand feet and had successfully ground test-fired 40 hybrid rocket motors. In 1996, HAL5 will construct its own hybrid rocket (fueled by only asphalt and laughing gas!) and will launch it into space from a high altitude balloon floating 20 miles high!
Phase 0: Rocket Motor and Balloon Flight System Development and Testing:
including motor static firings and balloon tests of rocket sub-systems at
Phase 1: Rockoon Proof-of-Concept: Rockets launched from 20-mile high balloons, and reaching or exceeding 50 nautical miles.
Phase 2: Operational hybrid rockoons providing cheap access to space.
We are now nearing the end of Phase 0. The final motor test is scheduled for February 17.
On November 12, HAL5 successfully achieved 340 pounds of thrust from our hybrid rocket motor. The motor had a specific impulse (pound-of-thrust per pound-of-fuel-flowed) over 200 seconds -- better than the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters!
With this motor, our hybrid rocket performance and mass fraction should take the rocket into space. Launched from a high altitude balloon, floating at 20 miles, the rocket should reach an altitude of at least 50 nautical miles, which is internationally recognized as being the start of outer space.
To make sure our rocket could actually fly, HAL5 member Gene Hornbuckle built a scaled-down asphalt and nitrous hybrid rocket and successfully ground-launched it three times. It achieved an altitude of over 4,000 ft! On March 3, HAL5 will ground-launch the actual full-scale hybrid rocket from the Barrens Test Range in Manchester, Tennessee (local chapters take note). This will be a complete test of the launch systems to be eventually flown on a high-altitude balloon, including the electronics and the rocket launcher.
Dr. Larry Scarborough, HAL5's Secretary and resident cartoonist, is also leading the development of the balloon gondola and rocket launcher. He built a half-scale version of the rocket launcher and successfully launched a half-scale rocket (powered by a D-motor) over a field in Huntsville. He is currently making the full-scale version in time for the ground test on March 3.
Leading the student group is HAL5 and SEDS member Steve Mustaikis. Steve really is a rocket scientist, and has made significant contributions to Project HALO in the area of motor and nozzle sizing, oxidizer-to-fuel ratio estimation, performance prediction, and post-test analysis.
HAL5 is now planning for the flight of student experiments on ground based rockets, high altitude balloons (which reach the edge of space), and ballistic space-qualifying rockoon missions, via its HALO Achievement program.
At the fifth grade level, a series of nine sessions will lead the students for planning to send a comic character, Rascal the Rockoon Raccoon, to Mars. We are working with Junior Achievement to gain access to school systems across the nation.
Middle school students would develop their projects to fly on ground based rockets and high-altitude weather balloons. To coach them in project development, we will establish the Junior Cadet Foundry, which will be modeled on the Foundry project incubator workshop we initiated at the 1993 ISDC. With the Junior Cadet Foundry we will coach the students all the way through the project development phase.
High school students would develop their projects to fly on high-altitude balloons and/or rockoons. They would participate through the Senior Cadet Foundry. Just imagine high school students flying payloads into space!
It is our hope that Project HALO will demonstrate that extreme altitudes are reachable by amateurs; that by pushing rockoon technology to its limits, we will inspire ourselves, others, and those who participate with us -- as either student experimenters, scientific researchers, or commercial developers -- to push us all to reach even higher. Ad Astra!
Status reports are also published on the World Wide Web. The HAL5 home
page is located at:
The HALO page is at:
For other Project HALO information, please send an E-mail message to <email@example.com> or call HALO Project Manager Greg Allison at 859-5538. GA/HAL5
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