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Photos Of The Month

CATO: Catastrophe At Take Off


Above: Firebolt on an E-12 motor = CATO

Bill Cooke is back again for the 3rd month in a row with a pair of TARC practice launches that suffered the dreaded C word!

Below: An Over Easy on a D-12 erupts in flame halfway up the rod = CATO



You've seen a D and an E CATO so far. Now for a very rare B6-4 engine CATO suffered by an even more rare, Centuri Columbia Shuttle. The two photos that follow are screen captures from one of our launch days back around May of 1991. As the oldest surviving rocket in our fleet (built in 1981) it had flown many times before this and has flown many times since.


This shot is at the instant of ignition but instead of the Shuttle rising off of the rod the black powder slug broke free of the casing and blew through the body tube, blowing off the nose cone as it sails into the air. 


Less than a half second later you can see the brighter, main slug, with the ejection segment slightly higher, as they continue to rise. The two pieces managed to reach approximately 50 feet before they burned up completely. The shuttle minus the nose cone is the small white object still sitting on the pad. Damage was limited to the nose cone and shock cord. The cone was shattered when the black power knocked it off the main tube with enough force to snap the cord.

In 47 years of flying this is the ONLY B6 cato we have ever seen. I'm sure other flyers have seen one but B motor CATO's are VERY rare!

Fear not, as I said, it has flown many times since and will again. Plus we have the same vintage kit, unopened and mint, just waiting to be built.




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