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May 5, 2012

The DSS BPS rocket motor was test fired on Saturday, May 5th, 2012 at 3:44 PM PDT at the FAR test site in the Mojave Desert. Members of the SS2S Motor Team arrived at the site around 9 PM then began assembly the propellant grain and rocket motor. Ground Team members were Paul Avery, Randy Dormans, Chris King and Rick Maschek. Assembly of the six grain segments into a single grain went well with only minor glitches. Motor assembly proceeded well with no issues. Chris reported that the measurement instrumentation setup went very smoothly with only one minor issue relating to a pressure sensor reading. The motor was loaded onto the test stand, which also went smoothly. Cameras were set up to record the event, and Chris started data acquisition. The Team retreated to the safety bunkers and began the countdown.

When the count reached zero, Paul pressed the firing button. A puff of smoke signaled successful ignition of the pyrogen unit, quickly followed by smoke billowing from the nozzle. The pyrogen canister was seen ejecting at this time. The motor rapidly built up pressure and within one second, the motor CATO’ed. The casing and nozzle flew straight off the test stand, as the casing ripped open at the Midbulkhead joint. The two bulkheads and severed section of casing fell below the test stand, as did the apparently intact Delay Plug, which continued to burn for over a minute.

Despite damage to the data acquisition equipment, including Chris’s laptop, excellent thrust and chamber pressure data was collected..

Read more.......
To view images, video and full report visit:

May 7, 2011

The MiniSShot-2 launch occurred Saturday, at 15:20 PDT at the FAR launch complex in the Mojave Desert, California. There were a small number of minor glitches to deal with during launch preparations but the main delay was related to waiting in line behind other launches at the FAR site. As well, US Air Force jets were escorting a cruse missile (in test flight) across the FAR airspace. Skies were clear, temperature was in the '80s F, however ground-level winds were marginal, estimated at 20-25 knots. Forecasted upper-level winds were moderate up to the planned apogee of 45k ft (13.7 km).

Liftoff was brisk and the first-phase burn appeared nominal, with an initial straight ascent followed by significant weathercocking. The 10 second coast delay also appeared to be nominal. The second-phase ignition appeared to occur on time and the restart plume was observed. A slight shimmy was observed in the smoke trail early during the burn but it straightened out quickly. The burn continued and appeared nominal to burnout. There was no visual contact reported from any observers following burnout .

Recovery beacons were active during ascent with GPS telemetry to ground intermittent but ongoing. The Booster beacon was not reported after apogee, however, the Payload Capsule beacon was continually detected. Rick Maschek used the last GPS reported location and tracking yagi to successfully locate the Payload Capsule, found not far from the launch site. It was discovered that the lightweight carbon-fibre Recovery Bay had fractured at approximately mid-span. The parachute shroud lines were stripped. It was not known when this fracture had occurred but it was speculated that this had occurred during the second burn, possibly associated with the observed 'shimmy'. Despite the apparent free fall to the desert floor, the avionics package appeared to be in good working condition, The Booster section apparently followed a ballistic trajectory and has not yet been recovered.

Excellent flight data was retrieved from on-board instrumentation. Analysis of this data is expected to be of value in determining the cause of the flight anomaly.

To view images, video and full report visit:

January 14, 2011

As the new year settles in, the Sugar Shot to Space (SS2S) program is gearing up in full swing for the next project on the horizon. Much advance work has been already done on this follow-up project -- the two thirds scale “Double Sugar Shot”, so named as we’re doubling up the size of our rocket over the first project, “Mini Sugar Shot”. Also referred to as DoubleSShot and MiniSShot, respectively, these two projects are of key importance to the SS2S program. Tremendously valuable experience --in the form of technical, organizational, and logistical—has borne out of the MiniSShot undertaking. For example, the MiniSShot vehicle was assembled from components that came from all over N.America as well as from S.America and Europe. The MiniSShot project is winding down, and will culminate in a second launch early this year, with final preparations currently underway. Recently, SS2S received a financial shot-in-the-arm, with funding from, and collaboration with Team Selene. This most welcome development enables us to be in the position of concurrently moving forward with DoubleSShot, with a timeline goal of launching before year’s end. DoubleSShot will be a huge challenge, in terms of scale of work needed to be done, and in terms of its targeted apogee goal – 33 kilometers or 108 thousand feet into the stratosphere. We’ll be designing and building the largest sugar-propellant rocket motor ever, by far. It will take us one third the way through the atmosphere, our penultimate effort before tackling the extreme challenge of reaching Space.

We are currently seeking additional volunteers to play an important role in helping to achieve our extraordinary goals. The broad range of skills needed mean that just about anyone who is dedicated and who enjoys a unique and uncommon challenge would be welcome. SS2S is a project without borders, involving participants from many countries. A truly twenty-first century endeavour, we are united in our pursuit of reaching Space despite geographical dispersion. The marvels of modern communication technology such as the internet, e-mail and Skype have made this possible. For more information about volunteering to help out, contact Richard Nakka (richard.rocketry@gmail.com), SS2S Director.

View the DoubleSShot Work Packages that describe the tasks that need to be done:

Follow SS2S progress, reported on a weekly basis:

April 25, 2010

Mojave Desert: The MiniSShot rocket was launched from the FAR (Friends of Amateur Rocketry) launch site in the Mojave Desert at 10:00 AM PDT Sunday morning following smooth launch preparations which had begun the day before. Weather conditions were ideal, with clear skies and little wind. Ignition and liftoff of the MiniSShot rocket vehicle was swiftly achieved. The MiniSShot rocket leaped from the launch tower and rapidly climbed skyward. The rocket climbed straight and true during a nominal burn of the first phase, followed by
a 10 second coast period. Second phase ignition occurred right on the mark at an altitude of close to 12000 feet (3.5 km), as expected. An anomaly occurred at that moment, as the rocket was seen to suddenly
"corkscrew" and separation of some unidentified items was seen to occur. The booster was then seen veering off course while appearing to burn for the expected duration. Shortly after that, the white main chute was spotted descending. Although not apparent at the time, the payload capsule was attached to the main chute and safely drifted to the ground and was recovered. The booster section was later recovered in two sections and was found to have fractured approximately in the middle of the aft motor casing.

Excellent flight data was retrieved from
the Chute Controller, Parrot altimeter, Main Computer and Telemetry
system. Over the course of the next few days, the flight data will be
scrutinized in conjunction with excellent video footage of the launch
and anomalous event. This analysis is expected to be of great
value in determining the cause of the flight anomaly.

July 28, 2009

ProtoSShot-M Mark III success marks a key milestone in the Sugar Shot to Space Program

Static Firing of the ProtoSShot-M Mark III Motor: A key milestone in the Sugar Shot to Space Program was achieved on July 25th, 2009 when at 2:15 PDT, the MiniSShot rocket motor was successfully static fired in the Mojave Desert. This “dual-burn” 1/3 scale motor operated flawlessly during both of the burns, each burn separated by the planned 10 second delay. In the coming days, the motor will be opened up and scrutinized, and the performance measurements taken during the test will be carefully analyzed. If all checks out well, the motor will be deemed “flight-worthy” and refurbished for launch later this year.

Keep informed of all new developments by reading the Weekly Activity Report.

Read more


September 30, 2008

Progress continues at an accelerated pace on the MiniSShot project.

“Launch Pad” fundraising drive: This effort was a great success!  The final tally exceeded our goal, which was certainly a vote of confidence in our quest to send  the MiniSShot rocket on its vanguard journey.  We would like to extend a sincere “thank you” to all who contributed to this campaign, and look forward to continued support in the future. 

MiniSShot "Short Stack" rocket motor: This motor was developed and tested within a very short time-frame, and served an important proof-of-concept role with regard to design improvements planned for the MiniSShot rocket motor. The “Short Stack”  was successfully test fired September 21st at the FAR test site in the Mojave Desert. The results of the test firing were encouraging and provided valuable insight with regard to thermal characteristics of the motor components.  Images and video of the firing can be found here

Chute Controller and Recovery Systems: These key components of the MiniSShot rocket, needed to ensure a safe return of our rocket from the stratosphere, have been independently test-flown in recent months by team members Ed Mallory, Hans Olaf Toft, and Rick Maschek. The results of these flights served to expand our knowledge of these systems, and even more importantly, of the challenges that we’ll face ahead returning from extreme altitude.

Review our Documentation and Showcase pages for more details on the items above and other important developments that have occurred in recent months.


May 16th, 2008

Many significant milestones have been reached on the MiniSShot project.

Nose Cone Completion: Roman Lev has put in approximately 500 hours of blood sweat and tears to produce our nosecone. It is designed to be a scaled down prototype of the nosecone that will sit atop the ExSShot and includes not only light weight and strength but has an ablative point to withstand the high heat that the ExSShot will face as our rocket reaches speeds in excess of 5000km/hr.

Completion of the Motor: Over the past 6 months the Propulsion Team has worked hard at the design and fabrication of the motor that will power MiniSShot. This unique dual stage motor was completed in late March and sent to the testing crew in California. The mid-bulkhead and the nozzle have a special thermal ablative layer which made the fabrication especially challenging. The ablative plays a key role in keeping critical parts of the motor from overheating.

Propellant Casting: On April 5, Matt Campbell, Rick Maschek and Brent Dougherty along with Sam Grado from PVCOnly (who supplied the raw ingredients) made 24 segments of propellant for the MiniSShot. This was an impressive all day effort and should supply enough propellant for 2 firings.

Static Firing of the MiniSShot Motor: On April 26 a static firing of the MiniSShot motor took place at the FAR facility in the Mojave desert. The first burn went very smoothly and the motor appeared to operate as expected. After the planned 10 second "coast" delay, the second chamber was ignited, and within a second, casing rupture occurred just aft of the mid-bulkhead joint. Although reminiscent of the earlier BEM failures, the cause does not appear to be the same. Current analysis indicates that a nozzle blockage likely occurred due to heat-related degradation and subsequent collapse of the propellant casting tubes during the 10 second delay. The investigation continues and has, to date, revealed a number of deficiencies, which may have contributed to the problem.  Remedial actions are being undertaken to correct the deficiencies and to provide for a more robust design of the motor.
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Matt Campbell, Brent Dougherty and Rick Maschek who worked doggedly to prepare the propellant, motor and test rig in time for the planned firing date. A huge thanks also goes out to Randy Dormans who provided much appreciated technical guidance at the site, and to Joseph Mahaney, who video-recorded the event and helped out in other ways as well.

Avionics and Recovery Systems
Good progress has been made in development of the avionics and recovery systems required to ensure a safe and timely  recovery of the MiniSShot vehicle following its ascent to apogee. Work continues on the development of in-flight video recording,. including real-time transmission to the ground support team.

New Updates to Website and New Members: Andrew Nowakowski has come on board the team to assist us on website development. Look for some new features (like bios for our members) and updated pages and links. Many thanks go to Knut for his help and continued support.
Shawn McHatten has also joined the team to provide Project Management assistance.  Shawn will also take on a key role in the area of technical development.


Look to our Documentation and Showcase pages for the links to more details on the items above and many more exciting events that have happened over the past 8 months.


September 25th, 2007

The Mini Sugar Shot project (MiniSShot), which started in late spring of this year, is progressing well, with a lot of significant accomplishments being made over the past few months. This 1/3 scaled-down version of our 100 km rocket is beginning to take shape. The nosecone has been designed and construction of the mould has begun. The avionics, which will be housed inside the nosecone, have been largely defined and some parts have already been built. Construction of motor components has progressed well and a static firing of the assembled motor is expected to occur in the not-too-distant future. Recently, Stratofox has agreed to work with our team to help in tracking and recovery of our rocket vehicles.

Being solely a volunteer effort, our project has faced inherent challenges, such as personnel attrition (due to personal challenges) and commitments to summertime activities. Efforts have been taken to improve communication between members, such a regular Skype conference calls. This in itself is an interesting logistical challenge, considering members are scattered across disparate time zones.

Visit our Documentation page for the latest technical reports relating to MiniSShot, including our first three Progress Reports. A Showcase Gallery with photos of our collective MiniSShot effort has recently been created and is expected to flourish with the addition of many more photos over the coming months.


June 13th, 2007

Since the last update, there have been some important and exciting changes to the Sugar Shot to Space program, as well as   some concrete developments.

The project that was, is now a program, encompassing a cascade of projects that are intended to serve as key stepping stones on our journey to the edge of space. A brand new Scope document has been released, outlining these projects which involve a series of rocket test vehicles and test motors.
Read more

September 23th, 2006

The1/4 scale Ballistic Evaluation Motor (BEM) was successfully test fired on Saturday, September 23rd.

The motor performed impressively - as the countdown reached zero, the motor roared to life and burned forcefully for the expected three seconds. Following a planned delay of eighteen seconds, the motor was re-ignited and burned impressively for another three second duration. Examination of the motor after the firing showed it to be in pristine condition. Design improvements that had been incorporated over the course of time since the initial test firing of this motor paid off handsomely. Performance data was successfully collected and will be analyzed in the days and weeks to come.
For an complete report on the event please visit:

Read more

July 29, 2006

The third test
The third test firing of the 1/4 scale motor took place on July 29th. Several improvements had been made to the motor and to the test instrumentation. The motor was fitted with a stronger, thermally insulated casing to resist the extreme thermal loading made apparent from the prior test firings. The instrumentation was improved both with regard to reliability and precision, based on lessons learned from the earlier firings.

Following an impressive first phase burn, a decision was made to abort firing of the second phase following a start failure, the consequence of a "safe/arm" switch inadvertently not being activated prior to the firing. Despite the incompleteness of the test, there were many positive outcomes. The data acquisition systems for the thermocouples, load cells and pressure transducers worked flawlessly and much useful data was acquired. The motor survived in pristine condition, and will need only to have the first phase reloaded before he next firing attempt is made in September. A TV film crew that had requested to film the event for a future documentary on rocketry was present and provided a new and exciting experience in working under watched conditions. For an extended report on the event please visit:
Read more

April 17, 2006

The second 1/4 scale BEM firing
The second 1/4 scale BEM firing is now in the books, having taken place this past Saturday April 15. Unfortunately, the results of this test were not as successful as we had hoped for.

As had happened with the first firing, the 1st phase casing burst late into the 2nd phase burn. Again, the 1st phase burn was beautiful, and the 2nd phase burn looked great initally. Clearly the thermal loading of the casing due to the 2nd burn was extreme, and failure occurred despite measures taken to reduce heating of the casing (such as phenolic casing liner). In the video, the 1st phase casing can be seen to discolor (bluing) at the point where it ruptured. Interestingly, the casing did not burst at the seam (as it did in the first firing) but on the opposite side. Although used with great success for normal rocket motors, EMT tubing is clearly not adequate for 1st phase casing material of a dual-phase motor. For the next BEM test, 4130 alloy casing with a significantly thicker wall will be used in conjunction with carefully chosen thermal insulation.

Due to a problem with the instrumentation power supply, electronic thrust and pressure data was not successfully collected. Fortunately, good thrust and pressure data was collected by the redundant analog gauges (videotaped). Good thermal data was collected this time, which will hopefully prove to be useful in better understanding the thermal loading that is going on in the motor under dual-phase operation.

January 29, 2006

Several goals achieved
There have been a number of major developments in our quest for reaching space! The ¼ scale Ballistic Evaluation Motor (BEM) was test fired on January 22nd in the Mojave Desert. The test was considered to be largely a success, despite a casing rupture late in the second-phase burn. Several goals were achieved, including the primary goal of demonstrating the viability of our “dual-phase” concept.

Although all aspects of the firing are still being evaluated, the casing rupture appears, at this time, to be a result of a faulty seam.
Photos and video are available for viewing at our Showcase page.

BEM facts: Overall length 5.5 feet (1.7 m.)
Diameter: 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Propellant mass: 16 lbs. (7.2 kg.)

Another major step forward in our project was the recent purchase of composite tubing of the type that is being considered for the airframe/motor of the SStS rocket vehicle. The acquired tubing will be utilized for a variety of purposes, including structural testing, fin & nosecone fitment and, in a more exciting vein, for a “Short Stack” BEM. It is believed that this test motor will be the largest “sugar propellant” motor ever made.
In other developments, significant progress has been made in defining the Payload and its integration into the launch, burn and recovery phases of the SStS mission. Large-scale propellant manufacturing processes have been studied in detail and experimental work has already begun in support of this key element of the project.

December 8, 2005

The 1/4 scale BEM test scheduled for December 3rd at the Reaction Research Society's launch site in the Mojave desert was scrubbed primarily due to the fact that the test equipment necessary for measuring the pressure of the second phase, as well as the equipment necessary for measuring the outputs from the temperature sensors, were not fully assembled and ready. A new tentative date has been set for early January 2006.

October 1, 2005

Big news regarding the SS2S Project status! The Phase 1 "Initial Feasibility" study has now been successfully concluded, and the decision has been made to move ahead to Phase 2 of the Project - "Research & Design". Click on the "Project Status" link to find out more about this exciting and very challenging phase of the Project.

A document which provides a detailed description of the "Initial Feasibility" investigations that have been undertaken in support of the SS2S Project is now available.
Download here

August 27, 2005

The call for Project team members has resulted in considerable response. Many new team members (worldwide) have been added to the various team rosters. There is still a great need for futher team members, especially for the supporting teams. In particular, we are seeking a central location for banking and distribution of funds.

Sponsors are now on board for composite materials supply, titanium fabrication for the motor, web hosting and vehicle electronics. New sponsors are always needed, as well as donors.

On the technical side of things, vehicle optimization design work is progressing well. The basic motor configuration has been settled, and will constitute an unconventional design which has been deemed "dual-phase". Simply put, this is a two-stage design in a single-stage motor. Proof of concept will be achieved by a 1/4 scale ballistic evaluation motor (BEM). Design of this motor has begun, and fabrication of parts for the BEM is set to begin soon.

August 8, 2005

The Phase 1 feasibility study is progressing well. Simulations indicate that the goal of sending a "sugar propellant" rocket to 100 km is indeed feasible, despite the relatively low specific impulse of this propellant. The basic configuration of the vehicle has been largely defined.

Payload studies are well underway. Regulatory issues have been investigated with encouraging results. Cost estimation is set to begin, and the search for sponsors and funding is the next key item on the agenda. The recruitment of new Team members continues.  

For more information on the SS2S project: Contact Us

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