Lil Nuke

This was Robert's first high-power-capable rocket.


After Bdale got his high power certification in May of 2007, it seemed appropriate for Robert to build a rocket capable of flying on larger motors, too. This was the first airframe that Robert used epoxy on, for example, and the first time he built something using Kaplow-style motor retaining clips.

Because we bought the optional payload bay kit, this airframe was capable of carrying electronics. Even though it always flew with motor-based ejection, one of the earliest Altus Metrum TeleMetrum v0.1 prototypes flew many times in this airframe, making Robert undeniably our chief test pilot!

Design Details


We ordered the kits from Discount Rocketry in early August of 2007, and construction took place during the last week of the month. We painted it in Rustoleum Red, which gave it a very cool, "wet-looking" color. On 31 August, in the parking lot of the Marriott Pyramid in Albuquerque, we completed the build by coating the aft centering ring and the bulkhead at the rear of the payload bay with 30 minute hobby-store epoxy.


Photos of this airframe.


First flown at the Albuquerque Rocket Society Thrust in the Dust launch over Labor Day weekend in 2007.

The "funny story" about that launch is that when we arrived at the site, one of the organizers of the launch (maybe the club president?) signed us in and handed Robert a snap-together plastic model kit, suggesting he put it together then come get a motor for it so he could fly a rocket too. As we walked back to the car, Robert asked me if he really had to put the kit together... I told him no, he didn't, but maybe one of our friends coming later in the day would enjoy it. When the range opened, Robert was first in line at the RSO with the Lil Nuke flight-prepped and ready to go on an Aerotech G54W-M motor. When he handed it over to the same guy to check out, the guy looked at me questioningly, and I told him "don't look at me, it's his rocket!"... the facial expression that resulted was just priceless. It was a perfect flight. Later that same day, Robert flew again on an Aerotech G104T-M, and it was another perfect flight other than gnarling one of the fins a bit on landing. We had a great day overall, and have been back to fly with ARS a couple times since then.

This airframe flew many, many times on E, F, and G motors. Early on, two of the fins popped off on different flights and had to be re-epoxied.

On Friday afternoon, 5 October 2007 at NCR's Oktoberfest launch, Robert flew this airframe on an Aerotech G77R-M, which for a long time was his favorite motor. The elastic shock cord separated on the booster side of the swivel at apogee. Amazingly, thanks largely to the short grass around the launch site, we were able to locate and recover both pieces in undamaged condition! We replaced the elastic with about 15 feet of black parachute cord, which worked brilliantly.

After many dozens of flights, the cardboard tube began to come apart slightly. Robert decided to "retire" the airframe until his 14th birthday, when he would be old enough to attempt a NAR Junior L1 high power cert. Sure enough, on 19 January 2013, the Lil Nuke was taken out of retirement, fitted with a brand-new TeleMetrum version 1.2b board, and flown at Hudson Ranch on an Aerotech H165R-M provided by Joe Hinton, the Giant Leap motor guy, for a successful certification flight!

This airframe is now permanently retired to "hanger queen" status.