[meteorite-list] Artificial Meteors Tests in V-2

From: Francis Graham <francisgraham_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:47 2004
Message-ID: <20040306232015.31070.qmail_at_web40107.mail.yahoo.com>

Dear List,
  Mark Bostick's article on V-2 artificial meteoroids
brought out some interesting memories.
  On September 27, 1966 Robert Jones (Now a physicist
in Kansas) launched the first "amateur satellite" into
solar orbit. It was a small pellet like the Bostick
article described, propelled into escape velocity by a
shaped charge. To get it out of the majority of the
Earth's atmosphere Jones first had it lifted by a
surplus sounding balloon ( those 8-footers from Edmund
Scientific, remember?) and then a big model rocket.
  Since then, his experiment has been repeated, and
more than once. One fellow used only a sounding
balloon, but osmium to penetrate the remaining
atmosphere. There is no way to verify it made it,
although Jones used a piezoelectric crystal wired to a
transmitter to verify the shaped charge detonation and
measure its momentum. That's the best that can be
   A shaped charge metal disk aimed downward below the
horizon from a high altitude sounding balloon could
simulate a meteor entry. One must be careful today
because new antiterrorist legislation regulates even
small amounts of high explosives (such as used in
Jones and subsequent experimenters devices) but small
quantities were not so strictly regulated in the 60's
and 70's.
   Another similar experiment was done by Fritz
Zwicky, a highly creative astrophysicist, on October
16, 1957. He also launched an interplanetary pellet
using US Govt equipment, by the shaped charge method,
from an Aerobee 85,000 meters above Holloman.
He claimed then to have beat the Russians into
interplanetary space (Luna 1 wasn't launched until
January, 1959). But the 1946 experiment undoubtedly
had both escape velocity particles and orbiting
particles, so if pellets count as "spacecraft", Zwicky
was beat too.
   There was another claim of a pre-October 4, 1957
space object. Around the internet there was a claim
that a lid from an underground nuclear explosion
placement hole was projected into space before
Sputnik. Investigating those claims, one finds that
there were four underground nuclear tests before
Sputnik I. The first three, "Uncle" from the
"Buster-Jungle" series, "Ess" from the "Teapot"
series, and "Pascal A" from the "Safety" series, were
too shallow and had tunnel venting. A steel manhole
cover from the first three would have been vaporized.
For the last, the 1 KT "Ranier" test of Sept. 19,
1957, it was 790 ft. underground, with no tunnel
venting. The manhole cover would have rode a 20 psi
overpressure blast wave that would hit it 0.25 sec.
after the explosion. This would give it an ultimate
velocity of 0.6 miles per second, and a ride up to an
altitude of perhaps as high as 30 miles. But not to
orbital or escape velocities. And only escape
velocities get you into space permanently with
vertical projection.
  The internet rumor may have originated as an
observer of the explosion visually or by radar may
have seen the manhole cover going way far up, if there
is any truth at all behind the internet rumor.

Francis Graham

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Received on Sat 06 Mar 2004 06:20:15 PM PST

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