Project HALO Status Report

Rocket Motor Test Day #13

Held on Saturday, August 2, 1997 at the HALO Rocket Motor Test Facility

The following text was taken, with permission, from an article by Ronnie Lajoie, which was published in the July-August 1997 issue of the Southeastern Space Supporter, newsletter of HAL5.

On Saturday, August 2, for the first time since November of last year, 14 members of the Project HALO team, plus 13 other HAL5 members, family members, friends, and guests, met at the HALO Rocket Motor Test Facility at the home of Herman and Chris Pickens.  Their goal was to successfully test fire the new, larger, and more powerful asphalt and nitrous-oxide hybrid rocket motor for the upcoming HALO Sky Launch 2 rockoon mission.

The test firing was initially scheduled for the following Sunday, but a conflict arose and Herman requested Saturday.  The Data Acquisition Team of Gene Young, Clay Sawyer, and Steve Mustaikis had planned to spend all-day Saturday installing and  checking out the new electronics without keeping a lot of rocket guys waiting.  Well, they got half their wish!  We broke for lunch while waiting to fire the first motor.

Following lunch, a now famous hot dog and hamburger barbecue, the team prepared to load the nitrous oxide.  This time we brought two new bottles.  Readers of this newsletter can guess what happened next.  Yes, of course, the HALO curse struck again.  Both bottles were empty!  Just enough liquid to fool us when we checked them previously.

It was Saturday, so of course the vendor would not be open.  After a failed attempt to contact the owner, we found a car shop who had a bottle we could borrow.  A mad dash by car back to Huntsville resulted in a nearly full bottle of nitrous.  Thanks, Speed Shop!

It was getting close to sunset before the first firing attempt was made.  Upon ignition, the motor went “BANG!”, and then quit.  A second attempt resulted in the same strange short “BANG!”.  It turns out the ignition squib wires were crossing as they got shot out of the motor and shorted out the nitrous flow valve.  Once fixed, the motor fired for the planned 3.5 seconds, generating 680 pounds of thrust.  It was awesome!

Ad Astra per Ardua -- “To the Stars by Our Own Hands”

For more information on Project HALO, contact HALO Project Manager Yohon Lo at (256) 658-2043 or via E-Mail at:

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This file was last modified on Saturday, 15-Apr-2017 13:19:40 EDT