Rocket Sky Grid (RSG)™
Wilfred Ashley McIsaac
Introducing the world’s simplest and most reliable rocket guidance system geared towards almost any amateur rocketeer looking for a precision landing.
(Above) An example of a typical Rocket Sky Grid (RSG) showing where you would aim your rocket in the sky if the wind is blowing from the south/west and if you wanted the rocket to land east of the launch site. The red line indicates the rocket's flight path from (A) to (B) and ultimately the return to point ©. (note: try and picture the sky grid continuing all the way down to the ground and across to the launch pad. This will assist you in locating the proper grids for lift-off and the ever important landing grid.
ROCKETEERS WARNING!!! When experimenting with the Rocket Sky Grid wherever you are, please take precautions in always keeping friends, family, or even casual spectators out of harms way. As any seasoned rocketeer knows, rockets and their recovery systems can be very unpredictable and very dangerous. Stay safe and have fun with your new guidance system.
HOW IT WORKS: Before launching your rocket take a moment while standing at the launch pad and look up at the patch of sky you plan on flying your rocket towards. Imagine a grid placed over the blue back drop similar to an X and O game (see above). Now record the wind direction followed by a meticulous survey of the area where you are searching for the safest place for your rocket to land. Keeping the grid in mind, picture the flight path of your launch vehicle and select a square on the grid that you feel is the most compatible to that flight path and landing site. The next step is to aim the rocket into your proper grid section already predetermined by the wind direction, weather cocking (see above), and of course the preferred landing area mentioned earlier. Applying what you have learned and by dividing the sky into individual sections, it will be less difficult to predict your rocket's flight from one area of the grid to the other. This compared to simply looking up at an empty patch of sky with no markers or reference points to assist you.
WHY IT HELPS: When launching a high-powered rocket there are many things to consider before lift-off can occur with safety always number one. At times the countdown to launch becomes extremely stressful. The Rocket Sky Grid or RSG was created to alleviate some of these pre launch jitters and allows you to aim and launch your rocket within a minutes. The concept may seem elementary but I’ve tried it several times with uncanny success. Knowing for sure where your rocket is going to land is now one less thing for you to worry about before the big launch.
RSG HAS BEEN TESTED WITH INCREDIBLE SUCCESS: Since 2010 I’ve used the Rocket Sky Grid (RSG) concept on several occasions including the launch of the A2-R13 rocket in November of 2010 as well as the ARCAS rocket mail flight on October 31st, 2011. Both flights occurred in eastern Ontario, Canada and have been well documented in the press and on my Facebook page (see below). The main launch was always preceded by a test flight to verify all was working properly with the rocket and to give the RSG experiment a test run. On each occasion (on the second flight after some minor corrections were made) the rocket returned to the precalculated landing area and within only a few feet of the actual launch pad. Not to bad considering the A2-R13 reached over 3000 feet in altitude in a stiff wind before drifting down to the ground directly in front of (but a safe distance from) a crowd of around sixty or more anxious spectators.
During prelaunch discussions of the ARCAS rocket mail test flight in October of 2011 at the Gananoque Airport in eastern Ontario, it was determined that the rocket should land west of the launch pad and onto the much softer grass rather than the hard runway tarmac. This would avoid unnecessary damage to the fragile launch vehicle and the expensive ‘GoPro’ Camera attached to the outside of the payload bay. After applying the Rocket Sky Grid system, the launch and landing were performed flawlessly as the ARCAS rocket slowly drifted to the predetermined landing area under a large 36” canopy. The controlled descent actually crossed county lines before returning with seven mail covers on board including Gerhard Zucker 1936 ‘First Canadian Rocket-Flight’ postage stamps attached. The launch video on YouTube (‘Canadian Rocket Mail Launch’) documents the flight in great detail while providing concrete evidence that this unique and uncomplicated guidance system will work for rocketeers looking for precision landings.
ROCKET GOLF: Think of the launch pad as a pin in the center of a thirty to fifty foot diameter golf green on a long par 3 hole. Or if you are landing the vehicle away from the launch pad simply place a marker where you would like the rocket to land. A good shot hit’s the green or around the fringe, an amazing shot actually finds the hole or in the case of a rocket launch, hit’s the launch structure (or marker) on the rockets descent. In other words, if you launched a rocket that reached an altitude of around 3000 feet before deploying its parachutes, and your goal prior to lift-off was to initiate a landing as close to the launch pad (or marker) as possible. If the rocket somehow managed to strike or make contact with the launch pad (or marker) before coming to rest, this would be comparable to hitting a hole-in-one on a 300 yard par 3, not bad. In the case of my ARCAS rocket mail launch on October 31st, 2011 however; it made more sense for the rocket to land west of the launch pad and on the soft grass instead of the harder tarmac where the rocket lifted off from. In keeping with the golfing analogy, this is considered playing it safe. Sometimes in golf playing it safe is the smartest move. In rocketry, it’s the only move.
Keep safe and try the Rocket Sky Grid on your next launch.
It’s as easy as A, B, C.
Wilfred Ashley McIsaac rockets have flown many payloads including Canadian rocket mail, a petition to help save the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Toronto, and commemorative poppies wrapped in a miniature Canadian flag during a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2010, to name just a few.
(above top left) The A2-R13 rocket takes off from the Aerodrome in Picton, Ontario on November 11th, 2010, before returning minutes later for a precision landing only a few feet away from the launch pad. (above top right) The ARCAS high-powered scale rocket carried Canadian mail on board and actually crossed county lines before gliding back for a perfect landing on October 31st, 2011, in Gananoque, Ontario. ((Below left) The A2-R13 glides in for a landing within a few feet of the launch pad to the thrill of a small crowd during a rocket launch at a Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11th, 2010. (Below right) The most compelling evidence supporting the Rocket Sky Grids value is provided by this picture of the ARCAS rocket coming in for a perfect landing after reaching over 2000 feet in altitude on October 31, 2011. Not only did the rocket come back to the launch pad exactly as planned, the delicate launch vehicle also managed to avoid the tarmac with a softer landing on the grass. My videographer James Rychlo (See YouTube video ‘Canadian Rocket Mail Launch’) is seen in the foreground recording the historic moment; the rocket carried covers with Gerhard Zucker 1936 ‘First Canadian Rocket-Flight postage stamps attached which had never been flown in Canada before this flight.
To follow Wilfred Ashley McIsaac’s rocket activities look for him on Facebook at ‘My Own Private Rocket Program’ or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The Rocket Sky Grid (RSG) has been successfully tested from a peak altitude of over 3000 feet. With this being said the RSG becomes less effective at higher altitudes where predicting a landing site becomes much more difficult. Recommended for Estes model rockets as well as high powered launch vehicles under fifty pounds of total thrust.