Sugar Shot Weekly Activity Report: November 14-27, 2011‏

Paul Avery and Rick Maschek performed the third round of development testing of Paul's pyrogen units for the upcoming DSS BPS motor test. The firings looked good, delivering the required "mass flux" within the design burn time. The units are being tested at ambient conditions, and will have a shorter burn once enclosed in a motor.
Serge Pipko performed the first "hot batch" ignition testing of the experimental eutectic propellant on November 27th. The resulting deflagration was impressive, and provides important insight into the need for special precautions when preparing larger batches of this formulation. Serge's preliminary report and video:
During a recent visit to California, Richard Nakka had a "long overdue" opportunity to meet with some long-serving members of SS2S. Rick Maschek and Paul Avery met up with Richard in Hemet, had lunch together, discussed rocketry and SS2S in-depth, and enjoyed a "show & tell" of SS2S rocket hardware.
After a tasty lunch at Coco's restaurant (left to right, Rick, Paul & Richard):
Rick's wife Barbara (left) and Richard's wife Pauline, at Coco's:
Posing next to the DSS BPS rocket motor casing:


More eutectic KNO3/NaNO3/Mannitol propellant static test firings

My good friend Rick Maschek performed some more static test firings with eutectic KNO3NaNO3/Mannitol propellant (PSNM):


Sugar Shot to Space KNO3/NaNO3/Mannitol propellant test

First Motor test of eutectic KNO3 / NaNO3 / Mannitol propellant by Rick Maschek. 182 grams of propellant in a five Bates grain arrangement. Test conducted at the FAR site, Mojave Desert California, USA on Nov 5, 2011 in support of the Sugar Shot to Space project.

Second static test firing will be done with a 390g motor, then 1kg. A first flight with a 1kg motor is scheduled for November 19th.


Reaction of vanillin with ascorbic acid

5g vanillin were heated in a 100ml beaker to 130°C, then 1g ascorbic acid dissolved. The mixture turned dark green after stirring it for several minutes. The reaction product is a soft, clear and elastic compound:

Reaction could be used to prove the existence of ascorbic acid or vanillin if color change arises not from impurities like nickel or chrome.

About an hour later the compound suddenly started to crystallize:
To avoid any contamination with metal ions, 5g vanillin and 1g ascorbic acid were placed into a fresh cleaned beaker without support of spoon or spatula. The mixture was then heated to 130°C. The temperatur sensor, which has a stainless steel jacket, was precautionary placed outside the beaker. The mixture was stirred with a fresh cleaned glass rod. The solution turned green after stirring it for 5 minutes and the ascorbic acid was completely dissolved in the vanillin.
To determinate if vanillin itself would turn green after heating it to 130°C for several minutes, the experiment was repeated without adding ascorbic acid. The vanillin turned slightly yellow after 10 minutes heating but not green. An idea is that the green color  occurs not caused by a chemical reaction but rather by a special crystal configuration of vanillin and ascorbic acid. Example: anhydrous copper (II) sulfate crystals are grey -white, but if they containing water, the appearance is blue.
If pure vanillin get heated to 130°C for 20 minutes, the color change to yellow-orange. After cool down vanillin crystallize out immediately and scalelike. If ascorbic acid is added to pre-heated vanillin, the color changes not to green and the solubility of ascorbic acid is decreased. However, after cool down a soft, clear and elastic compound was found too.

Update November 12, 2011: Uploaded an extended article (in German) about this topic on

Update November 19, 2011: Uploaded an edited version of the article here.