Rocket as a tornado probe article

Bill Hark

EF5
Joined
Jan 13, 2004
Messages
1,345
Location
Richmond Virginia
I found this article about a storm chaser (Brian Waldrop) from TN who is designing an instrumented rocket to launch at a tornado. Sounds like fun to shoot a rocket at a tornado but I can't imagine any practical data. I also think that it would be too dangerous to be within launching distance of a tornado using a small rocket. We'll see what happens in 2007.

http://www.fairviewobserver.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061129/NEWS01/611290422/1321/MTCN06

Bill Hark
Tornadoes of the Eastern United States DVD "Eastern Fury" FOR SALE
http://www.harkphoto.com/EasternFury.html
.
.
 
Fun sure...
DN518331129.GIF

Not sure how well the cardboard would hold up ;)

I just noticed the magnetic force... oh great.....

Heene, who has created a series called "The Science Detectives," said he wants to ride a motorcycle under a tornado to take measurements. He said it also would make for good television.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
A few years back I was really into model rocketry and High Power Rocketry.

First of all, the rocket is way too small (thus too lightweight) for this type of project. The Aerotech motor casing he's holding is a 29mm gauge G40-4 White Lightning motor.

This rocket engine has a total burn thrust of not even 3 seconds. Max thrust weight is a little under 15 pounds at 0.2 sec after ignition. He's using short tubes instead of fins on his rocket, this design is really not efficient. If you want a rocket to go fast you need a rocket with thin body and very small fins, we often call them DARTS. His nosecone is crap.. it won't go anywhere precise. Maximum distance it will probably go is no less than 2500 feet hehe

The rocket would never be able to get inside the tornado, is too light, it won't even reach it. He needs a bigger heavier rocket with High Power engines (between 300 and 800 pounds of thrust in less than 0.5 sec.).

My opinion on this... Big waste of time for him and the reporter who did that article.

My 2 cents
 
Last edited by a moderator:
If these are the same guys who I read about wanting to do this a year ago, it's a clever media ploy. Basically just a few non-scientist types from Tennesee who figure if they shoot a rocket into a tornado, they'll get on TV. Why shoot a rocket into a tornado? Science. What kind of science? You know, science. You put some, you know, stuff... on the rocket. Tornado measuring stuff. And then you shoot it into a tornado! Brilliant!

Dumb reporters for local papers who don't understand science are more than happy to suck this stuff up. :)
 
If they're actually for real...do these guys actually believe they can score a hit with such a rocket? Accounting for even a moderate CONSTANT transverse wind vector in a rocket's planned tradjectory can be a bit of a challenge.

What say we make that transverse wind vector one that changes rapidly with time and proximity to the target, as well as with its relative position to the momentary sightline to the target? And let's not forget to account for the momentary wind component perpendicular to the transverse component (sorry I don't know the proper terminology - just humor me here), ie--toward or away from the target, depending on which side of the sightline the rocket's tradjectory takes. Oh, and the tornado is probabley moving, right? This is, of course, assuming a nice uniform cylindrical wind field about such a tornado...that's real world...right? Now let's throw in the danger of close proximity, adrenaline, the challenge of being within range, possible hail curtain, airborne debris field....Looks like a pretty interesting way to waste a lot of time and money.

Perhaps if the rocket could be placed in a tornado's path and launched remotely nearing the point of impact...sort of like a Tim Samaras approach, but with rocket engines attached. :) Then there's the problem of keeping the device aimed at the vortex from a distance. Wish I had that kind of time to kill.
 
I've seen video of failed attempts. Probably not feasible in all but the rarest of cases...good luck to anyone who tries.
 
I'll save you the time of reading the article..here are the important parts:

--------------
[...]
"He once sat in a car, under an overpass in Thompson's Station, while a confirmed F1 tornado ripped up trees and rooftops around him."
[...]
People often ask him if what he's doing is anything like in the movie "Twister."

"Actually it is very much like that movie, except tornadoes are not as easy to find and we try to drive much more safely than what you saw in the movie," he said.
----------------

-Tyler
 
If these are the same guys who I read about wanting to do this a year ago, it's a clever media ploy. Basically just a few non-scientist types from Tennesee who figure if they shoot a rocket into a tornado, they'll get on TV. Why shoot a rocket into a tornado? Science. What kind of science? You know, science. You put some, you know, stuff... on the rocket. Tornado measuring stuff. And then you shoot it into a tornado! Brilliant!
Ryan, Im rolling! You summed it up brother!:D:D

You know, stuff! Ah man thats funny!
 
Besides, I had a hard enough trying to capture a tornado on videotape or SD card, much less being able to predict where it will be...blah blah.
A good example is the DOW setup, they were hit and miss too at first and they had a most favorable setup for success.
Like Ryan said, its about publicity, man Im still laughing Ryan.
Mike
 
Back
Top