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X-10 Water Rocket Crushes World Record with 1,696 foot (517 meter) average flight.

With an average altitude of 1,696 feet (517 meters), U.S. Water Rockets X-10 rocket bests the previous WRA2 record altitude by a significant margin.

On a dark and cloudy evening the U.S. Water Rockets Team waited patiently for a break in bad weather caused by a stalled storm system which had prohibited launching for over a week.. The storm system was actually a blessing in disguise, as it offered an opportunity for the team to upgrade many of the systems in the rocket with significantly enhanced replacement parts. This paid off great dividends when the break in the weather finally arrived late in the evening on May 26, 2005 as the team was able to prep and launch the two flights required for the average altitude record. The new rocket systems provided significantly improved performance over the former revisions, as the announcement was made that the rocket surpassed its previous best effort at notably lowered air pressure. The altimeter data graphs and flight videos required for inclusion in the WRA2 Record books can be seen with the links at the bottom of this article.

U.S. Water Rockets state that the week long forecast for poor weather allowed them a window of opportunity to make radical changes to the X-10 rocket design. Their first objective was to carefully remove the nozzle and reshape the proprietary convergence baffle for less turbulent flow. The modified nozzle was then reinstalled. While the nozzle was being upgraded, a new finset was created with a very nice tapered airfoil design. The sweep angle was altered slightly to reduce risk of breakage if descending through trees. A new parachute was added with a special super-elastic shock cord to prevent the chute from tearing on deploy. A new deploy canister was added to make room for the new chute. Fortunately, these can be fabricated quickly from a standard 35mm film canister and lid. Finally, the entire electronics bay was redesigned with the latest revision of the avionics controller board. A few grams of weight were saved thanks to a smaller and more compact design. This allows the entire assembly to fit inside the standard T-12 Fluorescent tube guard with plenty of room to spare. The extra room was used to provide foam flotation for the assembly to reduce the risk of sinking in the event of a catastrophic failure above the water. This extra weight offsets the reduced weight of the controller so the overall weight of the payload section remains largely the same.

According to eyewitnesses, the first flight of 1,694 feet (516.3 meters) took place at 6:58PM and was submitted as the first of the two flights required by the WRA2rules. The onboard camera recorded a film of the entire flight as required, despite the dark clouds overhead. The flight went off flawlessly but fell just short of the intended landing area. A steady breeze spoiled the careful aim of the U.S. Water Rockets Navigation Engineer.

The second flight under identical conditions took place a mere 57 minutes later, after a rapid turnaround of the rocket as the team raced against time to beat the sunset and approaching night. The camera was configured for very low light conditions and was successfully able to capture footage of the flight as proof of accomplishment. The footage is slightly more blurry than hoped, but is as good or better than most water rocket movies available elsewhere. The second submitted flight flew perfectly to an apogee of 1,698 feet (517.5 meters) where the updated parachute deploy system gently released the redesigned parachute and the rocket descended to a perfect landing on target in the nearby recreation field.

When weather permits, U.S. Water Rockets plans to raise the record further with even higher altitudes. In the meantime, U.S. Water Rockets is constructing a special modular X-11 rocket as a test vehicle for some next-generation nozzle and payload options which appear even more promising than the current technology.

If you are interested in the criteria used to set this record, please visit:
Water Rocket Single Stage World Altitude Record Rules

U.S. Water Rockets' X-10 lands on a nearby driveway.

[Gallery] X-10 launching to set a new world record!.

Flight one 1,694 feet.

Flight two 1,698 feet.

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