CSXT 2000...So Close and Yet So Far

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On Friday September 29th the Civilian Space Exploration Team successfully launched the SPACESHOT 2000 rocket at 8:40 am PST from the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. The vehicle trajectory was nominal up to motor burnout (max Q) with an altitude of 40,000 feet and a velocity of 3,205 mph (Mach 4.9). Just after motor burnout the vehicle experienced a slight wiggle followed by total vehicle breakup approximately 0.25 seconds later. The rocket was expected to reach an altitude of 60 nautical miles.

The motor casing was located downrange in the hazard area on the nominal trajectory azimuth. The nosecone, payload and 1 fin were found cross and downrange to the launch site. The two flight recorders were recovered intact with excellent data throughout the flight. The Post Flight investigation for the FAA report is underway and more information including the most probable cause of the failure will be published at a later date.

The entire event was documented by a 5-person camera crew and will be shown on television in the near future.

Here is the final events and timeline that lead up to the launch of SPACESHOT 2000.

7:40 am Ky Michaelson called Salt Lake, Oakland, and Seattle Traffic control centers to get our launch window in real time from the Black Rock Desert. The window was set for 8:30 am to 9:00 am PST. Real-time communication was established to allow any of these centers to call a hold on the launch.

7:45 am The Launch Director (Ky Michaelson) gave the go ahead to proceed with the countdown.

7:46 am The Launch Conductor (Jerry Larson) began the countdown procedures for the wind weighing.

7:50 am The weather balloon and instrumentation configured for 5,000 feet altitude climb was released.

8:10 am The weather balloon and instrumentation configured for 1,000 feet altitude climb was released.

8:15 am all wind data began processing for launcher azimuth and elevation settings. Tower Crew was dispatched to the launch pad for final alignments.

8:20 am wind data processing complete, launch tower elevation and azimuth settings radioed to Tower Crew.

8:30 am Pad was cleared of non-essential personnel. Safe and Arms were activated. Motor igniter was armed for the firing command.

8:35 am Final sky checks were conducted, Safety Briefing was given by RSO (Bruce Lee). FAA radar scopes were clear. All Launch Commit Criteria (LCC) was within specifications. The Launch Director (Ky Michaelson) gave final go ahead for launch.

8:39 am Launch Conductor proceeded with T- 60 second terminal countdown procedures.

8:40 am Liftoff, tower clear


Although the team was unsuccessful in achieving the goal of reaching space, the team accomplished many primary objectives and set new standards for amateur space rocket launches.

1) Set new amateur rocket burnout speed record of 3205 mph (Mach 4.9)

2) First amateurs to develop software, hardware and conducted wind weighting for a ground based space launch.

3) Obtained all waivers and permits from the FAA, AST (390,000 feet) and BLM in strict accordance with government regulations.

4) Established real-time communications with three (3) Air Traffic FAA Radar Centers local aircraft surveillance and launch abort capability.

5) Open the doors for future ground based space shot rocket launches.


SPACESHOT 2000 Team Members
Ky Michaelson, Project Director, Launch Director (LD)
Jodi Michaelson, Launch Weather Officer (LWO)
Bruce Lee, Range Safety Officer (RSO)
Jerry Larson, Project Manager, Launch Conductor (LC)
Tyler Larson, Winds Team
Roger McNamara, Winds Team Lead, Alternate Launch Conductor
Eric Knight, Sponsor, Remarkable Technologies, Inc
Rick Loehr, Motor Design, Winds Team
Randy and Gene Stinner, Machinists

Many thanks to others that were on hand to help out with erecting the tower and final preparations for launch.

We would also like to thank the key government officials who helped to make this possible. These are great people that worked long hard hours to get the paper work through the system for us.

Randy Repcheck, FAA, AST, Space Transportation
Dean Balach, FAA consultant
Mike Bilbo, BLM
Rich Coffin, FAA, Air Traffic

I would like to personally thank Ky and Jodi Michaelson for sponsoring this event and providing us the opportunity to take one step closer to fulfilling our dream of launching into space.

We'll be back...

Jerry Larson
Civilian Space Exploration Team

© 2000 ROCKETMAN Enterpries, Inc