Most of the time when launching a big rocket, like we did over the weekend at Fire in the Sky, I don’t have time to get decent photos. The entire flight often lasts less than a minute, and during the descent you’re mostly busy trying to triangulate where it’s coming down, taking bearings and trying to estimate distances, so you can narrow down the area of weeds, grass, or sagebrush you’ll be trudging through later on.
So I didn’t get any pictures of my Giant Leap Elipse coming down, under the TAC-1 parachute, but another spectator at FITS did, and here it is! The TAC-1 chute is big, and with anything smaller than a 3 inch airframe it wouldn’t even fit into the tube, but it’s strong and did a great (and almost as importantly, visible) job of bringing down the rocket. The small triangle you can see in the photo is a folded hexagon of Nomex cloth, which protects the chute from the heat of motor ejection while stuffed into the body of the rocket. Much harder to see is the long Kevlar cord which ties together the two sections of the rocket, along with the steel quick-links (like small locking carabiners) that connect all the bits together.
NOTE: The photograph here is (c) 2007 Linda Lantzy, and is not covered by the Creative Commons License which governs other content on this website. See Linda’s PhotoShelter site for licensing information.