Amateur Rocket Aims For The Kármán Line, One Launch At A Time

When it comes to high-powered rocketry, [] has the unique distinction of being the first to propulsively land a solid-fueled model rocket. How could he top that? Well, we’re talking about actual rocket science here, and the only way is up! All the way up to the Kármán line: 100 km. How’s he going to get there? That’s the subject of the video below the break.

Getting to space is notoriously difficult because it’s impossible to fully test for the environment in which a rocket will be flying. But there is quite a lot that can be tested, and those tests are the purpose of a rocket that [Joe] at [] calls Avalanche. Starting with a known, simple design as a test bed, numerous launches are planned in order to iterate quickly through several launches- three of which are covered just in this video.

The goal with Avalanche isn’t to get to the Kármán line, but to learn the lessons needed to build a far bigger rocket that will. A home-brewed guidance system, a gimballed spin-stabilized 4K camera, and the descent system are among those being tested and perfected.

Of course, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to have fun with prototyping. Sometimes you just want to 3D print a detonation engine, no matter how long it won’t last. Why not?

17 thoughts on “Amateur Rocket Aims For The Kármán Line, One Launch At A Time

      1. 100km line has some physical justification: as you go higher with a winged aircraft, you need to go faster to generate sufficient lift for level flight in the exponentially thinning atmosphere. At some height, you need to go so fast that you’ve achieved orbital velocity, i.e. ballistic flight parallel to the curving surface of the planet. That shakes out to be about 100km of altitude and von Karman came up with it.

  1. Man, I just can’t shake off the feeling that he has a very rich daddy bankrolling his projects. His smug-looking face doesn’t help much.
    Nothing wrong with that, by all means make full use of the resources you have access to, even better if doing something useful with it.

    Apart from that, he really has a “just make it work” approach that I think is missing in a lot of makers. Watching his videos you can see that most of what he does is really quite hacky, but the end result undeniably works.
    Trying to make something this complex “perfect” would probably lead to decades of development and a half-finished rocket.

    1. “Let no man look down upon your youth.” All I see is a young man enthusiastic about his rocketry passion. I’m a fat man in overalls and if everyone judged me like this, I’d be a wino in the gutter clutching my brown paper sack.

    2. I’ll tell you what I see: A young man using YouTube income to fuel his passion for rocketry, while at the same time supporting himself and building a resume. Can you imagine being the only fully private citizen (not a collegiate team) to put a rocket into space using fully self-built gear? That’s engineering prowess and fortitude that is rare, and when the right company sees that, he’s liable to go somewhere at start working on orbital rockets next.

      1. I just took a look at his patreon page and it is much more expressive than I thought, didn’t think it was viable to live off youtube at ~400k subs.

        About him working on orbital rockets next, I’m not so sure about that. The skillset involved in what he is doing now is vastly different from working on a commercial rocket.

        What he is doing now involves being able to quickly get just enough done in a LOT of different areas, and a whole lot of perseverance. Working on a orbital rocket involves a lot of people deeply specialized in one particular field working together.

        He seems smart and motivated so I’m sure he will do well for himself in whatever field, but (ironically) I don’t think his achievements in model rocketry would translate to “real” rocketry.

          1. I took a look and it seems a very impressive program, much closer to small-scale real rocketry than model rocketry. Also much better funded, backed by a large organization and likely staffed by “professionals”. Wouldn’t surprise me it if was created specifically to get people into the industry.

            Really cool, but very very different from what he is doing.

          2. You are talking about Blue Origin which is older than RocketLab, Astra, Firefly, and even older than SpaceX and yet failed to create an orbital rocket, is many years behind schedule in delivering just engines for ULA?

  2. With the data you collected on the flight, you should be able to tune your Kalman estimator until it produces a good fusion of your inputs.
    If the camera “spinner” is using the accelerometer to detect rotation, it shouldn’t matter what strength the motor has so long as you’ve worked out the control stuff — which you should be able to do on the ground.
    Don’t leave information that you could capitalize from on the table, so to speak.
    Awesome project!!

  3. Kip Daugirdas Project MESOS
    Oct 4, 2022

    “This is my ground video of the fantastic flight by Kip Daugirdas with Project MESOS. The rocket reached 293,488 feet. One of the best amateur rocket flights ever performed.”

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