Damaged Onboard Camera Spoils World Record Attempt after Impressive 2,088 foot Water Rocket Flight.
Records from that launch session show that the first flight flew to an unprecedented altitude of 2,088 feet (636 m) and the flight was nearly flawless on a clear summer afternoon with great visibility and bright sunshine. The flight appeared to have gone up and parachuted back to splashdown perfectly, with no signs of any problems whatsoever.
Unfortunately, when the rocket was recovered the water tight bulkhead seals of the payload section appeared to have cracked under the tremendous acceleration of launch and allowed water to fill the electronics bay upon splashdown. The onboard video camera was obviously in bad shape because it had become completely submerged in water and looked ruined beyond any hope of repair.
We decided not to attempt to replace the damaged payload compartment and camera until the cause of the cracking was investigated and resolved. A second launch only needed to fly 24 feet higher for their WRA2 record average of the two flights to become the first official record over 2,100 feet in altitude, but the team did not believe that it would be worth risking damage to their only remaining camera.
The team decided to spend the rest of the afternoon scouting for a backup launching area which did not have the severe liability of landing in water associated with it. Without the extensive water proofing required to protect their electronics, we expect to go over 100 feet higher in altitude using the same pressure and water reaction mass.
Even for a single flight, 2,088 feet is a very impressive altitude for a simple rocket powered only by tap water and air compressed at the time of launch. As a bonus, the team eventually managed to dry the camera enough to extract the video footage from the flight and this proved to be one of the most impressive videos yet taken by X-12.