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Strap yourselves in, we are exactly one month away from Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under 2015 and this SUPERSIZE EDITION of GET YOUR BUTT TO THUNDA! is loaded with information.


With a true Aussie flavour, the limited edition ARTDU 2015 T-Shirt is going to be a collectors item for years to come.

Don’t miss out on grabbing one of these rare specimens. You can purchase them online here:


If you have not yet registered for the event (flyers and spectators), online registrations will remain open until Friday 27/02/2015. After that date, they will only be available at the event. Please remember prices will be higher at the gate.

With a full capacity of 170 people, the Banquet Under the Stars is sold out! Thank you to everyone who has registered. This has been one of the most exciting challenges, trying to host a full banquet in the middle of an empty paddock.

All registrations and merchandise can be purchased here:


The ARTDU 2015 team are excited to announce the STARLIGHT CINEMA which will be showing everyone’s favourite rocket movie ‘October Sky’. This awe inspiring movie based on the true story of Homer Hickam’s journey with rocketry to ultimately become a NASA engineer, will be aired on the night of Friday the 13th. Admission for the movie is by gold coin donation. All proceeds raised will go towards The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

Bring a chair, grab some popcorn and experience the movie with Homer Hickam himself.


Over the course of the last three years, the ARTDU 2015 team have had many meetings with government bodies, regulators and other interested parties to make this event a success. We recently met with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (explosives regulator) and Royal Australian Air Force for our final checkups and scrutiny and are pleased to announce all boxes have been ticked for the event.

It has been an absolute pleasure working with all of the different bodies to bring this event to fruition and we are delighted with the support they have all shown.

With only one more meeting to take place next week, we will be focusing our efforts on minor logistical requirements such as signage. The ARTDU 2015 team are also looking forward to preparing their own personal rockets to fly.

The final logistical run to the site was also completed on 30 Jan 2015 and the farmers have been extremely helpful with many of the little tasks that need to be completed. We also took the opportunity to fly a couple of rockets at the alternate launch pads and demonstrate the high altitude processes to various organisations.

Nic flew his sub minimum diameter ‘No Big Deal’ on a CTI M2245 Imax to a little over 39,000′ AMSL. This validated our operational co-ordination with Military ATC. I will let the video say the rest:


To help manage participants at ARTDU 2015, we have had a special run of high quality fabric wristbands and lanyards made. These have been made in a range of colours to help differentiate flyers from spectators and banquet ticket holders etc.

All of the relevant wristbands and lanyards will be issued at registration.


There will be a number of flyers using tracking devices at ARTDU 2015 and to help mitigate multiple users on the same frequencies at the one time, we will be implementing a frequency board at the RSO table. This board will help identify who is using what frequencies at any particular time.

Please remember that the use of tracking devices is the responsibility of the flyer and therefore we request that all users be diligent when operating these devices. A set of guidelines will be provided in flyer registration packs outlining some requirements.


In order to assist with the High Altitude Reviews, the ARTDU 2015 team has decided to make available some collated historic weather data for the launch site. These are site specific observations and calculated extrapolations, not just data from the nearest weather station. The provided data is from the same calendar days / dates from March 2014. Although we cannot accurately predict anything relating to the weather this long before the event, the provided data is likely to be a good snapshot of what to expect. Note that up-to-date data will be provided by the Thunda Team on the flying days.

The High Altitude Reviews are required for any flight above 18,000’ AMSL, i.e. the start of Class ‘A’ Airspace, however, based on the weather data, we would like to underline the following important broad principles and suggestions:
1.       Wind conditions at ground level likely has very little in common with winds aloft and vary GREATLY in direction and speed from what is experienced on the surface.
2.       If you are flying into (or through) the jet stream, i.e. generally between 27,000’ and 50,000’, you should take special notice of the up-to-date observations the ARTDU 2015 team will be posting on the launch days.
3.       Given the high wind speeds found at these altitudes, the design and selection your recovery system will be tested to its limits. High descent rates are suggested while under drogue, i.e. >100 fps. Have excellent & redundant tracking and ground support equipment.
4.       The ARTDU 2015 team may assign your launch to one of the alternate high altitude launch pads to optimise the recovery of the vehicle.
5.       To further optimise the recovery, please carefully consider and implement the suggestions made in the High Alt Review Replies.

For those who have not yet submitted the AMRS High Altitude Review Form, you can download this and the Historic Data Sheet from here:

Thunda Down Under 2015 has been branded as the must attend rocketry event for rocketry enthusiasts and it sure is living up to its reputation. Apart from world record attempts, NASA engineers and participants from all over the world, ARTDU 2015 is also showing off propellants of all types. One of the highly anticipated launches is not from solid rocket fuel or hybrid technology, but rather pure H?O (or maybe good old QLD XXXX beer).

Rocketeer’s build for Thunda Down Under 2015: George and Peter Katz – Dark Shadow

Flyer’s Name:            George and Peter Katz
Location:                    Sydney, NSW
Rocket Name:            Dark Shadow
Estimated Altitude:    1,400′ (420m)
Length:                        2.85m  (9’4″)
Dia:                               63mm  (2.5”)
Proposed GLOW:       2.9kg  (6.4 pounds) = 1.5kg dry + 1.4L water
Proposed Motor/s:     6.77L capacity water rocket pressurised to 600psi (14 bar)

Please tell us about the project eg. why are you building it?, what do you hope to achieve (speed, height, size, enter competition, certification etc.)?, have there been any challenges or highlights to the preparation? What payloads (if any) are you carrying (cameras, electronics etc.) 
This rocket is our first serious attempt at a high performance water rocket. The goal is to try to reach a new personal best altitude. Many of the construction techniques used in this rocket are borrowed from the HPR world.

The pressure chamber consists of a thin walled fiberglass inner liner which is reinforced with a carbon fiber sleeve, and fitted with an Aluminium nozzle.

The rocket and launcher are designed to operate at 600psi. During recent tests a test pressure chamber was still holding at 650psi. We’re not sure what the performance limit is yet, but we hope to find out at Thunda.

If the rocket hasn’t self dis-assembled on the pad, at launch it will experience around 60G and a peak thrust of 1,430N. With a burn time of 0.2s the motor equivalent is close to a G800 developing up to 170Ns total impulse.

The rocket will be carrying a couple of altimeters – AltimeterOne from Jolly Logic, a zLog Mod 6 from Hexpert Systems as well as an HD 808 keychain camera in the nosecone. Parachute deployment is time based and controlled by one of our Servo Timer II’s.

We’ll start off at around 500psi on the first flight and work our way up in pressure on subsequent flights until we run out air, water or rocket. Recovery is via a single 36” parachute from Aerocon Systems.

One of the main challenges is getting up to pressure safely. We need to fill fairly slowly as compression heating can potentially weaken the airframe if the temperature goes above the Glass transition temperature of the epoxy. A warm day can complicate this even more.  As much as the kids want us to paint the rocket a “Shadow grey”, it will most likely be a light in colour to help reduce thermal heating from the sun. We are still working out whether a wet towel around the outside should be used to cool the rocket prior to launch.

Having the all mechanical deployment system survive the 60G will also be fun to watch.

What are you most looking forward to seeing or participating in at Thunda Down Under 2015?

We’re really looking forward to catching up with interstate fliers we’ve met over the years as well as meeting new local and international fliers and of course seeing all of their great projects.  A few years ago when I first attended a big launch at the Williams “Wildfire” Westernationals, I was completely blown away by the event and the level of sophistication of the hardware. It was very inspiring to see the amount of effort that goes into the projects and the level of co-operation between fliers to get the rockets in the air. Thunda should take that up an notch or two!

Click here to see George and Peter’s water wonderland in progress!


If you have any other queries about ARTDU2015 please email

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