PhoeniXL Team's Rocket Is So Powerful, It Can't Be Launched
Anywhere In The East Coast!
What's bright red, is partially built from the leftovers from
retired rockets and can put a smile on any kid's face? The answer
can be usually be found in Whitaker, NC. But if you were present at
the XPrize Cup this weekend, that's where you would see the
PhoeniXL and its PhoeniXL team leader and designer, Mr. Sterling
ANN caught up with Edmunds at the Tripoli Rocketry Association's
(TRA) staging area in a corner of the Las Cruces Spaceport. The
jovial, sunburned face clearly showed Edmunds was having as much a
blast at the XPrize Cup as the spectators who had witnessed his
craft zoom 20,000 feet into the sky at supersonic speeds.
The PhoeniXL, according to Edmunds, was so named because it is
the result of an iterative design and construction process which
reused many parts from other, retired rocket airframes. His team is
officially based in Virginia, but the team members, including
engine designer and builder Mark Lloyd, are spread out over
Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, among others.
The rocket took some 18 months to complete, and is equipped with
a homebuilt Q-14000 engine that puts out a very healthy 3,000 lbf
of thrust. It is six feet long and has a diameter of eight inches.
For fuel, it burns a mixture of 75% ammonium perchlorate (or APC
for short) and 5% aluminum, with the remainder made up of a binder
to keep the two main components together.
The PhoeniXL Team was not the only group of rocketry enthusiasts
strutting their stuff and wowing the crowds at the Spaceport. Under
the auspices of TRA and the XPrize Foundation, several other teams
converged in Las Cruces with various types of rockets. Gates
Brothers Rocketry brought their gear to the show, and FLARE
(Fellows of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts) put together a
very complete display of rockets ranging from simple beginner
models to complex level 3 aircraft.
James Basler, Jr. of FLARE explained that their club has 12 dues
paying members, and 18 family memberships. They get together two to
four times a month to launch their creations, hold business
meetings and host rocket building workshops. The goal: "Get kids
interested." There's no doubt in Basler's mind as to what the
hobbyists need to do their part in promoting space exploration.
"We need to draw the connection to the kids," said Basler. "They
are the ones who will be taking the ideas forward. We have to get
the ball rolling to hand over the baton to them."
Judging by the number of children gathered around their display,
it appears they are well on their way to achieving their goals.