On November 6th, 2015, UP Aerospace Inc. launched the 20-foot (6-meters) tall SL-10 rocket (a small sounding rocket) into near-space. The mission was to deploy the Maraia Capsule testing the aerodynamics and stability of the payload on re-entry to the atmosphere. The rocket reached an altitude of 396,000 feet (120,700 meters) and speeds up to Mach 5.5 (3,800 mph or 6,115 km/h) at engine burnout. The launch was recorded with an attached GoPro. The action camera has recorded amazing images of Earth and space.

GoPro Awards: on a rocket launch to space

How to prevent a rocket from spinning

For anyone who’s wondering, the rocket stopped spinning because of a very clever mechanism called a yo-yo de-spin. The rocket deploys two small weights attached by cables. These weights move outwards from the rocket due to the centrifugal force generated by the rocket’s rapid spin. As its effective radius increases, the rocket has to conserve its rotational inertia and, as a result, slows down. The weights and cables then separate from the rocket – the sounds you hear would be the deployment and release of this mechanism. Here is a video below that explains this:

How To Stop a Spinning Rocket – Yo-Yo De-spin Explained. This video shows how a fundamental law of physics allows you to stop a rocket from spinning, even in the vacuum of space!

UP Aerospace

UP Aerospace, Inc. is a private spaceflight corporation headquartered in Denver, Colorado. UP Aerospace provides ultra-low-cost space access and payload transportation for corporate, military, and educational payloads, via their SpaceLoft XL sounding rocket launch vehicles.

A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The rockets are used to carry instruments from 50 to 1,500 kilometers (31 to 932 mi) above the surface of the Earth, the altitude generally between weather balloons and satellites – the maximum altitude for balloons is about 40 kilometers (25 mi) and the minimum for satellites is approximately 120 kilometers (75 mi).

The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary to sound, which is to throw a weighted line from a ship into the water to measure the water’s depth. The term itself has its etymological roots in the Portuguese / Italian / Spanish and French words for probe, which are “sonda” and “sonde”, respectively. Sounding in the rocket context is equivalent to taking a measurement.


M. Özgür Nevres

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