• kashfkjfhdjkhjk - hubertas
  • Which part is this? It looks like a complete separate stage. - KAGoldberg


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I just got back from XPRS 2006, and I have over 400 photos to look through. Yes, there were that many interesting launches this weekend…. Very, very fun… ;-)

This is a one-in-a-thousand shot, maybe more… Catastrophic rocket failure photos are very rare (this is the only one I have witnessed), and the spontaneous explosion happens so fast that to capture one filling the frame floors me. This photo is straight from the can, uncropped, and untouched... 400mm zoom from a safe distance.

You have to see the full size to appreciate the detail in the debris… you can diagnose the failure as a rupture of the forward closure of the motor casing. The huge and heavy blue motor shot down, and can be seen along the launch rail. Individual propellant segments shot upward, and some of them can be seen as cylinders just under the nose cone, and above the fin can.

Black Rock Desert playa clay is airborne near the bottom because motors this big blast a crater in the ground (that is normal).

Mid-frame, in the smoke, are the remains of the fin can assembly. At the top is the upper part of the rocket, probably with the parachutes still in it, with the shock cords dangling below.

hubertas, travísimo, Vox Sciurorum, and 18 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 9 more comments

  1. jurvetson 104 months ago | reply

    schnaars: yes, check out LUNAR in Livermore. Next event is a night launch on Oct 21. It tends to be safer, smaller rockets, but still great for kids. Their Snow Ranch launches in November and December will include high power rockets.

  2. KAGoldberg 104 months ago | reply

    Looking closely at the smoky part, it looks like there are two stages that have separated. What's up?

  3. jurvetson 104 months ago | reply

    I believe it is the fin canister from the booster stage. When the forward closure fails, the motor blasts backwards (downward out of the rocket body) and probably shredded its aft retention system.

  4. j_silla 104 months ago | reply

    is it possible to plan a land shark that goes at an amed direction, seems like an efective battle tool?

  5. BenODen 104 months ago | reply

    That's intense!! Anyone talked with you about wanting to publish this one? Give half the proceeds to your generous lens loaner, I'd say! *grin* Wow. Great stuff!

  6. jurvetson 104 months ago | reply

    BenODen: thanks! Funny thing, a couple people offered that it could be a cover shot for Extreme Rocketry magazine... That would be the gnarly hall of fame, IMHO =)

    Everything I shoot is under Creative Commons (free to use with attribution).... I'd just be honored if someone liked this one enough to print it somewhere.

  7. davesbit 104 months ago | reply

    unbelievable shot! one in a thousand is right
    sounds like a great experience too

  8. Jeff* 104 months ago | reply

    What a cool - in a frightening sense - shot!

  9. BenODen 104 months ago | reply

    That would be cool indeed. I think you have to build these with a test pilot's frame of mind. Everything you build isn't going to work, and if you get notoriety for an impressive failure, embrace the moment. This was somebody's pride and joy, no doot aboot it!

  10. Steve Stone 104 months ago | reply

    Wow - that was a brief but impressive experience - well captured! (Awesome large!)
    Seen in Scientist Photographers (?)

  11. Gwen's River City Images 104 months ago | reply

    WOW! A real heads-up capture! This belongs in a magazine! Super!

  12. John Goldsmith 104 months ago | reply

    Um. Mission Control? We have a problem.

  13. .s.e.a.n. 100 months ago | reply

    Wow! Nice capture... Once in a lifetime timing!

  14. n3ldan 100 months ago | reply

    Haha, cato's are always so fun. Unless you paid for the rocket of course...

    That really is an amazing shot, I've never seen a cato photo with everything in the frame.

  15. jurvetson 94 months ago | reply

    cato's are always so fun

    Heh... just saw a video of the most insane CATO.... took out many of the cars in the parking lot....

    I am looking forward to viewing the STS 118 launch up close in August... =)

  16. Lady Wulfrun 89 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Appetite for destruction!, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

  17. hendongirl 89 months ago | reply

    woaaahhh!!!!!! Cool explosion.....(sorry for the rocket owner though!!)
    Seen in Appetite for destruction? (?)

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