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Lens In Space

by msecadm4921

The Nevada desert heat came within an inch of dampening the enthusiasm of a British rocket team on their recent European record attempt, including CCTV lenses.

The 100 degree heat proved too much for a seal, separating the hybrid fuels (nitrous oxide and a block of plastic) and the rocket deployed on the launch tower. The launch made just six inches off the ground and scattered the team who were standing nearby. Ben Jarvis, a 26 year old from Harrow, Middlesex who founded the Mars advanced rocketry society in 1990, said: ?We ran for the hills!? On top of that, the team had to wait until the next day to re-prepare Deimos Odyssey for flight and narrowly avoided missing their launch window. “Back home in the UK we were all chewing our nails and pulling out our hair with no news of what had happened,” said team press officer Tim Grimston.

The important payload in the rocket was a high resolution camera equipped with a Pentax 6mm manual iris lens, which was due to acquire pictures of the earth and relay them back to the team on the ground. But the previous day?s abortive attempt had severed vital cables and in the end the pictures captured were limited.

“We managed to collect all the data about height, speed and velocity and the only thing missing was the excellent pictures although what we did get was pretty cool in any event,” added Ben, who works as a graphic designer when he is not co-ordinating the efforts of the Mars team. The team already holds the British and European altitude records and is ultimately trying to get a rocket into space.

The Nevada launch achieved a height of 25,400 feet (that?s 5 miles up and just a shade under the cruising height for a fully laden Jumbo Jet) and a speed of almost 1,000 miles an hour with a 15 second burn of the hybrid fuelled rocket engine.

“We reckoned to be 30 per cent down in motor performance and were disappointed not to break our own European record for an amateur rocket and go above 35,000 feet,” said Ben. “However we did manage the highest altitude reached by a UK built hybrid rocket so that?s some consolation.” Ken Tremain, general manager of Pentax UK?s CCTV division who provided the lens for the project said: “In 1947 the speed of sound was broken for the first time with a speed of just under 1,000 miles an hour and it took countless hundreds of thousands of pounds to achieve. What these guys have done in their spare time, and with their own money, makes them world-beaters in my eyes. We?ve had prior experience of our lenses being specified for aerospace applications but it?s still staggering to consider that systems onboard this craft were subject to forces in excess of 40Gs at speeds of up to 998mph.”

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