CX-3E Odyssey: New York City's First Rocket
Designed in the Spring of 2017, the CX-3E Odyssey was flown at the first annual Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico on June 24, 2017. It was the first rocket designed and built in New York City.
Maximum Velocity: Mach 0.76
Maximum Acceleration: 5.39 G
Predicted Apogee: 10,574'
Actual Apogee: Unknown, Altimeters Never Recovered
Motor: Aerotech M750
Maximum Thrust: 274 lbf
The principle manufacturing challenge was achieving the necessary precision required for fin alignment. Misalignment could start the rocket rolling and result in a rare but catastrophic form of aerodynamic resonance called "pitch-roll coupling".
A special jig was made with markings every 90 degrees that was used to align the tube on a manual milling machine.
With all three markings aligned, the jig was secured, and the fin slits cut into the airframe tubes.
Laborious, tedious and easy to knock the jig out of alignment, it took more than 12 working hours to mill all of the fin slits to a precision of less than one degree of arc.
After two months of manufacturing, the CX-3E was completed on May 8, 2017. Driven to Spaceport America, White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the CX-3E was brought to flight-ready status at the first annual Spaceport America Cup.
Messenger-2: A Date With History
The CX-3E lifted off without incident in the early morning hours of June 24th, 2017. After a successful recovery system deployment, the rockets airframe was broken in half by the extreme stresses, and observers noted the rocket drifting far away from the launch site leading some to suspect a premature main chute deployment.
Only the booster section was recovered as recovery teams were beaten back by the extreme heat before they could locate the payload section.
The flight of CX-3E and the Messenger-2 mission was nonetheless considered largely a success, and secured CCNY's place in history as the builder of the first experimental rocket in New York City.