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U.S. Water Rockets Tests Prototype Live Telemetry Tracking System.

Today, for the first time in recorded history, a Water Rocket received live bidirectional telemetry data to and from a ground station, when U.S. Water Rockets tested their proprietary new Water Rocket Telemetry system.

The purpose of the new design is to provide real-time status information on the health of all the onboard systems and control vital functions of the rocket from a safe distance away. In prototype form the system is capable of transmitting and receiving 64 channels of data every millisecond. This provides instantaneous readout of every onboard system with plenty of spare channels for future expansion.

The ability to monitor data and control rocket systems in real time provides another layer of safety for the ground crew because they can remotely monitor every system and activate all vital recovery, data-logging, and videography systems from a safe distance while the rocket is pressurizing. This ultimate level of safety gives the launch crew the option of aborting a launch if a system malfunctions or indicates a anomalous condition on the pad. This adds an extra level of reliability and safety to each and every launch. For example, if a leak is detected in the electro-chemical deploy system, the launch can be scrubbed. This means a potential deploy system failure can be averted, saving the rocket from a potentially serious crash landing. Similarly, if the camera system battery runs low on the launch pad, the telemetry will allow the launch to be postponed until the rocket is depressurized and the battery replaced.

The advantages of this telemetry system on the ground are numerous, but the system really comes into it's own be providing live broadcasts of the actual altimeter data as the rocket is in flight. This live data provides not only a backup channel for the altimeter log in case of a faulty recording, but it also provides immediate confirmation of peak altitude reached as well as the resting altitude and attitude of the rocket when it touches down, aiding recovery search because it will be readily apparent upon landing if the rocket is in a tree or on land.

U.S. Water Rockets reports a completely successful test of this prototype as a "proof of concept". Their future plans to incorporate the new system into a new rocket controller payload and use it for future World Record Water Rocket Launches.

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Receiver and antenna for the telemetry and tracking system. [Click to enlarge]

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