Mythbusters 11/11 -- Rocketman (Spoiler in the OP)

A question about the Ottoman Turk Lagari Hasan Celebi, who allegedly survived a rocket flight to 1,000 feet in the 17th Century.

There was a liftoff, and then there was a burst of flame from inside of the rocket body, followed by tumbling. Granted (pun intended), tumbling due to weight distribution was expected. But the rocket seemed to fly fairly well until flames started coming from inside.

Did the engine fail?

My guess would be that it burned through the metal tube that they had put the engine into. Most of it still went down, but some of the flame was probably shooting through a few holes that opened up.

I don’t think it went well until that point, though. I think it had a guiding rod which kept it going straight for a short while. After it came free from that, it was fine to wobble about as it desired.

They should have stuck with the multiple-engine design. It was obvious that the improved stability on Tori’s miniature was due to having multiple engines. I bet they had the worst of worlds, not the best. The cage-like version with the pointed nose and multiple engines would have been the most stable, I’d bet. Otherwise you have a big air-scoop that’s going to want to push to one side as soon as it grabs some air, sat on top of a single point around which it can easily bend.

This whole season, I’ve been getting the feeling like the Mythbusters are getting a bit lazy. If they don’t think something will work, rather than trying to figure out how to make it work, they just slapdash something together and then blow it up at the end. I’m not sure whether its time for them to retire or if they need a kick in the butt from the viewers.

Ok first of all the the fins on the end design were so short only a well balanced rocket would work.

Hell if it worked I am guessing six to eight feet fins…maybe four rockets if not more…and the timing comes out fairly simple when you think of the timing of this myth.

First the budget:

We are talking what would be considered now an amazing surplus of excess funds to put into this project, they were talking about costs and transportation of the metals, nothing could have been less trivial in the trial. The rich lived rich.

Back to the design…short fins, one combustion point, top heavy when a person was in…could they F it up more?

Solution?or Another try: Longer fins (have to be lighter weight, hitting 6-8 feet minimum I would guess) 3 or 4 points of thrust (not doable huh? try this, you get your hand burned bad but you are free…no fuses) Now the next is hard.

I actually think the bar/wire cage on Grant’s model would help, but that comes down to too much math for me, I am just going by simple fix-it man mechanics. But, the four wire cage should give some stability…kinda wondering if they put some type of plate instead now…not big but maybe 2-3 centimeters that curved the air enough to lessen the pressure.

It failed spectacularly. After the rocket landed and the team is going over to check on Buster, you can see the rocket in the background. Not only did the propellent burn through the motor casing, it burnt through the side of the rocket as well.

I noticed that too, and there is much criticism of this test on the Discovery Channel board.

Oh, it’s a girl.

That rocket never had a chance. To be stable, the balance point of a rocket has to be ahead of the center of pressure by a large margin. “Top heavy” is actually a good thing…think of an arrow with a heavy head and feathers way back. That’s not likely to happen in such a short rocket.

If they were actually going to “test” this myth, then they needed to do it with the original gunpowder. They’ve done impressive rocket tests before (e.g., the Confederate rocket). Either do it right or forget it. This would have meant doing multiple trial runs and such.

And Jamie and Adam are becoming secondary figures on their own show.

I thought the way they tested this one was pretty silly. I mean, they tested a 17th-century myth with 21st-century materials, and hand-waved it away by saying something like, “Well, if this fails then we know there is no way they could have done it with their original materials!” Um, OK? Why not just try it with 17th-century materials, though? I mean, I guess it was kind of cool to see a steel rocket blow up, but it really didn’t seem to have anything to do with the actual myth.

I think it’s just an issue of practicality. They have to get the thing up and working in less than X days in under Y budget. Using parts that are known to work–like a modern rocket engine, they can cut out a lot of trial and error that would be otherwise necessary just to get it to work. And if they know how much thrust over how much time gunpowder would get, they’re not really sacrificing anything–though you have to trust that they actually got that right.

Yes, I know the design was poor. I was surprised it flew straight for any distance past the guide rod. It’s just that the flame inside of the body was very obvious, and they didn’t even mention that the engine may have burned through the top; or, as UncleRojelio suggests, through the case.

If that was the case, they should have said something about it – in spite of Grant’s pre-launch prediction that the propellant would not burn through the case.