20 April 2004
Announcements - Vehicles (Good)
Beyond-Earth Enterprises Launches Rocket
The teddy bears survive!
by G B Leatherwood
by G.B. Leatherwood

On Saturday, April 17, 2004, Beyond-Earth Enterprises (B-EE) launched an unusual rocket from the Pawnee National Grassland in northern Colorado, assisted by members of the Northern Colorado Rocketry Association, a group associated with the Tripoli Rocketry Association, Inc. The rocket, dubbed and registered "LC01," roared from the launch tower at 3:30 p.m. MDST, reached an altitude of 8,000 feet, tipped over at apogee, and returned to the launch site. Unfortunately the nose cone ejection system was damaged on liftoff and failed to deploy the parachute that would have guaranteed a soft landing. Part of the rocket crumpled as it was designed to do, but the payload container survived, as did the rocket motor itself and the rear fin assembly.

"Unfortunately, a couple of the bears didn’t survive the crash," Latrell said with a chuckle, "but the children’s drawings and the rest of the package came through fine." Bears? Part of the payload was 25 toy teddy bears, two of which, as he said, "didn’t survive." Not a bad result for the first launch of a rocket built by amateurs in a converted warehouse from "off the shelf" parts.

That is what makes this rocket unique. There were no government funds involved, no teams of highly paid rocket scientists and engineers. All elements were designed and built by a dedicated team, all of whom have other full-time jobs. The objective of this entire project is to prove that private industry is fully capable of designing, building, launching, and documenting space flight safely, reliably, and above all, inexpensively.

Let’s not forget that oft-stated bugaboo of space flight: the myriad alphabet-soup agencies scrutinizing every aspect of any new and untried enterprise, better known as government regulations. How did the B-EE company deal with all the restrictions and regulations? Latrell says, "It’s a lot easier than you think…. You just ask them what they want and give it to them.” Latrell, who is more interested in launching rockets than he is in dealing with “suits,” says, “The folks at AST (the Federal Aviation Administration Associate Administrator for Space Transportation) are very supportive and want to encourage efforts such as ours."

The next step in development of a commercial space enterprise is already underway. The B-EE team is already at work analyzing what happened to the nose cone ejection system, a unique, completely mechanical system that employs no chemicals or pyrotechnics to deploy the parachute. The team is already designing the remedy and planning for the next launch.

B-EE’s next launch will take place during the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 28-30, 2004. The rocket will be launched at the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) site outside Sayre, Oklahoma, on Saturday, May 29, 2004.
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G B Leatherwood 20 April 2004
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