Willie Ley, science editor of PM and former vice president
of the German Rocket Society, is at present experimenting
with a meteorological rocket for the Burke Aircraft Corporation
in Atlanta. Mr. Ley in a lecture before the Atlanta section
of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers expressed
his belief that a meteorological rocket able to duplicate
regularly the feats of the most successful sounding balloons
could be achieved within the next two or three years. The
diagram below shows the general structure of the rocket upon
which Mr. Ley is working.
over-all length of the rocket is to be about 10 feet, the
diameter of the tanks about 4 inches. The total weight of
the rocket now under experiment with fuel, oxygen, and instruments
is approximately 44 pounds, of which 19.8 pounds is the weight
of fuel, 2.2 pounds the proposed weight of the meteorological
material of which the motor is made, a metal capable of withstanding
the extreme heat generated by combustion of gasoline in liquid
oxygen, is Inconel, an alloy of nickel, chromium and iron,
manufacture of which is limited to the United States.
rockets greatest ascent would be about 1985 ft. per second.
The signals from the instrument, which are to be patterned
closely from the existing radiosonde instruments, would, of
course, be broadcast during the descent, the speed of which
may be regulated as desired by the size of the parachute.
The inset shows the returning rocket. Since the rocket would
reach the ground first, the parachute would be relieved of
all weight but that of the instrument for the last 40 or 50
question arises as to possible advantages of the use of such
a rocket, could it be perfected over our present method of
upper air sounding with the balloon-borne radiosonde. Perhaps
the foremost advantage claimed for the rocket by Mr. Ley is
an ability to regularly attain any desired altitude up to
approximately 85,000 feet. The altitude reached could be predetermined
by the fuel placed in the rocket, and would not be subject
to uncertainty as in a balloon ascent. Very high altitudes
could be reached as consistently as lower ones if data from
the greater heights were desired. Though forecasters do not
at present require or use data above the base of the stratosphere,
the results of high altitude soundings would possibly be of
interest in meteorological research. High winds could cause
no inconvenience at time of release. Precipitation, icing,
or turbulence would not affect the rocket in its ascent.
disadvantages of the rocket are apparent. Its size and weight
make it more cumbersome than is the radiosonde balloon. The
handling of liquid oxygen, which is at a temperature of about
200° C below zero, requires care. Mr. Ley compares the
liquid oxygen to boiling water in that “burns”
may be suffered from it. Though the cost of a meteorological
rocket cannot be estimated with any degree of accuracy at
this time, it is believed that even under mass production
its cost will be slightly above that of the radiosonde.
Ley has invited members of the Weather Bureau staff to witness
tests of the rocket motor this month. The tests are not made
by launching the rocket but by anchoring the motor securely
in a machine which measures the thrust when the fuel is ignited.
course a vast amount of work remains to be done on the meteorological
and many problems are yet to be solved, but Mr. Ley approaches
the task with a confidence born of his twenty years of experience
in the field of rocket development.
“The BREEZE”, Vol. 2, No. 4, May 10, 1945. Pp.