Tag Archives: rocket

Can you ID this rocket that was abandoned in Milan’s suburbs?

A rocket was found in the outskirts of Milan.

On Oct. 24, a rocket was found in Parco Lambro, a large park located in northeastern Milan, Italy.

About 70 cm in length, the rocket is painted olive-drab and has a yellow nose, as if it contains an explosive warhead. Although it may be a fake (it looks too clean, without rivets, bolts, labels etc.), its shape reminds that of a 5-Inch HVAR (High Velocity Aircraft Rocket) or a 3.5-Inch FFAR (Forward Firing Aircraft Rocket) – old rockets whose length is twice that of the ordnance found under a tree at Lambro park in Milan.

In 2011, a rocket “used by Italian helicopters” (most probably an 81-mm Medusa rocket) was found in a field near the tracks of a Rome-Naples high-speed railway bridge in the area of the settlement Ceccano, near Frosinone. The rocket, hidden below some black plastic bags, is about 1.5 meters in length and, although filled with propellant, it had no explosive material.

Image credit: Newpress via Corriere.it

Mesmerizing video: Rocket vertical take off and vertical landing filmed by a hexacopter drone.

On Oct. 7, Grasshopper, a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical landing (VTVL) vehicle, completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude.

And, above all, the weird maneuver was recorded from a single camera remote controlled hexacopter.

Grasshopper VTVL vehicle was designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. Indeeed, you can weirdly watch the rocket going up and down in an almost surreal way, as the footage, from a certain point, is played backward.

While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry or to fall in the ocean, SpaceX rockets are being designed to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing and the Grasshopper VTVL vehicle acts as a technological demonstrator to perform steps aimed at achieving that goal.

According to SpaceX, Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

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Mysterious debris emerges from sea in Norway. Piece of a Russian bomber or rocket?

Some interesting as well as mysterious metal parts with Russian text have emerged from sea in the Salmon Bay, in Finnmark, in the extreme northeastern part of Norway, on Jun. 3.

According to the Norwegian TV2 website, the official explanation is that the wreck part belongs to the second stage of a rocket called Kosmos2486. The rocket was launched on Jun. 7 from Tlesetsk in Russia barely four days before the mysterious debris appeared on the surface of the sea.

However, several analysts disagree with the rocket theory for several reasons: first of all, the main part is a cylindrical container with a circumference of around nine meters with an oxygen bottle or fire extinguisher attached to it (something you don’t usually expect to be attached to an unmanned rocket). Then, there are signs of corrosion, suggesting that the metal parts may have been in the water for a long time.

Mysterious object 2

The object is about 3 meters wide and 3.5 to 4.5 meters in length and is curved. It shows signs of damages and torn parts on one side. Halfway through the curved suface there’s a pressure bottle, possibly a fire extinguisher or something similar. It sports Cyrillic inscriptions meaning that it is either Russian or made in Russia.

Mysterious object 4

Image credits: Bernt Nilsen/TV2.no

According to TV2, it could be an escape deck hatch of a Russian military plane, possibly a Tu-16 Badger, or a Tu-95 Bear engine nacelle.

Color of the wreckage (white) actually recalls the livery of the Tu-22 Backfire or Tu-16o Blackjack bombers.

Any clues?

H/T to Lars Korsmo for sending me the links to the story

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North Korea's failed missile launch: a Korean Airlines A330 over East China Sea (temporarily) on the projected flight path

The news that has confirmed the launch of the Unha-3 rocket was announced by South Korea’s YTN television network around 22.52GMT.

As soon as the news spread, I checked Planefinder.net to see if there was any aircraft (using ADS-B) along the missile’s projected flight path and found a Korean Air KAL8658 overflying the East China Sea at 580MPH and FL390.

I took the following screenshot with a certain concern….

However, shortly after the launch was announced, U.S. officials said that the missile was believed to have crashed into the sea 90 seconds into flight.

CH-47 shot down by an RPG rocket: second episode in less than two weeks

On Aug. 6, an Army National Guard CH-47 with 38 on board, including 19 Navy Seals was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade in eastern Afghanistan. It was the worst incident of the war in Afghanistan as the Afghanistan war as it approaches the 10-year mark. Hundred articles and comments have been published all around the world, but none of those I’ve read so far, has recalled a similar incident that took place only few days before, when another Chinook, operating in the same region was hit by an RPG shot.

On Jul. 25, in what had been considered “a rare incident”, another CH-47 was hit by an RPG rocket and forced to perform a (successful) crash landing. Fortunately, everybody escaped the downed chopper and there were only two slightly wounded.

So, less than two weeks before a CH-47 and its passengers were killed by an RPG rocket, another unguided rocket had hit the same type of helicopter, in similar circumstances and almost with the same consequences.

The helicopter downed in July was carrying US and Afghan soldiers to Nangalam Base, in the Pech River Valley, in eastern Afghanistan and the crash happened shortly after midnight.

Since the RPG is a launcher of unguided rockets, hitting anything even at a few hundred meters is extremely difficult and requires a certain amount of luck. Even if the target is a large chopper. For this reason, an interesting article published few days after the Jul. 25 incident by Strategy Page talked about a “miracle shot”. A miracle that, unfortunately, repeated on Aug. 6, with a death toll of 38.

According to the Strategy Page article, the CH-47 hit on Jul. 25 was the 17th helo brought down by hostile fire in Afghanistan (with another 84 crashed for non-combat reasons).

In most cases, helicopters are brought down machine-guns, especially heavy (12.7mm or larger) ones. The enemy has also been using portable surface-to-air missiles since 2003, including more modern models, like the SA-16 (which is similar to the American Stinger.) American helicopters are equipped with missile detection and defense (flare dispensers) equipment. Thus the most dangerous anti-aircraft weapon remains the machine-gun. However, aircraft losses to ground fire have been declining every year, mainly because of improved defensive tactics.

Helicopters are fired on about six times more frequently than they are hit, and most of those hit are only slightly damaged (and land normally). Today’s helicopters are much more rugged and reliable than those in Vietnam (1966-71, the first major combat use of helicopters). There, 2,076 helicopters were lost to enemy fire (and 2,566 to non-combat losses). In Vietnam, helicopters flew 36 million sorties (over 20 million flight hours). Helicopters were used much less in Iraq, where no more than half a million hours a year were flown (to support a third as many troops as there were in Vietnam during the peak year). In Vietnam, helicopters were about twice as likely to get brought down by enemy fire. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the main weapons doing this were machine-guns.

Today’s helicopters are more sturdy, partly because of Vietnam experience, and are more likely to stay in the air when hit, and land, rather than crash.

Unfortunately, not enough sturdy to absorb an RPG “miracle shot”.

There’s no way to procted an helicopter from an RPG rocket other than flying unpredictable paths at very high speed, an attitude that can be maintained only for some phases of a mission. Surely not when the helicopter is heavy or close to the ground during take off and landing.

Wired’s Danger Room reports that new helicopter countermeasures are currently under test and could be deployed in combat on CH-47s well before the current deadline (2017), following last week end tragedy.

However such defensive systems react after the first shot, preventing the shooter from taking a second shot. The risk is that Taliban shooters, who seems to be more accurate with their rockets than the past, as the Jul. 25 and Aug. 6 incidents show, may be able to hit the target with their first shot, rendering the countermeasures useless.