Rocket Flight
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Rocket Flight

August 31, 2019


[vintage 60’s music] One-man, in-flight, by himself. What could
such a man do in exploring the moon and the planets? This was the question in the mind
of the geological survey personnel in Flagstaff Arizona when a rocket belt was demonstrated
for the staff in northeastern Arizona on August 3rd, 1966 at the suggestion of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration. this rocket belt weighs sixty pounds with the fuel
tanks empty. When ready for flight, 48 pounds of hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen are added
for a total weight of 108 pounds. This demonstration, one of a series to test possible systems with
application to lunar exploration, was conducted in the Hopi Buttes volcanic field, a principal
testing site used by the US Geological Survey form and lunar exploration studies. Because
of its complex topography this particular area was selected for an examination of possible.
Application of small rocket devices. The pilot chooses firm ground, or in this case a large
rock, for takeoff and tests his controls. Altitude and throttle controls are hand operated.
The right hand controls the throttle and also houses a timer to warn of low fuel supply
10 seconds before the end of flight. Additional altitude control is accomplished by movement
of the rocket nozzles around two axes.The pilot tests the rocket once and he is ready
for a maximum of 20 seconds of free flight. A genofader ring on the jet nozzles is operated
by the left hand. Each of these deflector rings moves in opposite directions providing
yaw or roll control. Lateral and pitch control are accomplished by turning the entire mechanism,
control arm and nozzles. Power for the flight is furnished by 90% hydrogen peroxide which
is contained in the two outside tanks. The center tank contains nitrogen which furnishes
pressure for the hydrogen peroxide at 3000 pounds per square inch. The fuel is fed to
a decomposition chamber where it contacts a silver screen catalyst bed decomposing into
oxygen and steam at 1300°F. The exit temperature is close to 1000°F and the maximum thrust
is three hundred and twenty pounds. Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, Chief of the branch of astrogeology,
led the U.S. Geological Survey investigators in examining the potential of the rocket belt.
Studies will be conducted to test the usefulness of this apparatus insulating geologic exploration
of the Moon. the experience of the pilots indicate that flying a rocket belt is much
like flying an airplane… that the control methods are approximately the same and that
it requires a similar feel for precise control. The pilots ability to observe the ground and
features around him are hampered hardly at all. Clouds of dust created by a takeoff and
landing in a dusty terrain such as this present no visibility problem to the pilot during
such maneuvers. Buckets of water were kept on hand to wash away residual hydrogen peroxide
when the tanks are empty at the end of each flight. The US Geological Survey has a continuing
program of field testing for the purpose of checking out the methods and instruments being
considered for geologic exploration of the surface of the moon and planets. Rocket belts
and their successors will be examined to see if exploration by one man, in flight by himself,
is practical on the Moon and beyond..

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