'U’ Researchers Develop Rocket Which May Aid State’s Industry
By Larry Bush
A rocket that could put Michigan back in the aircraft and rocket business, which the state has lost to Pacific coast industry, has been developed by Prof. Richard Morrison and other researchers of the University of Michigan aeronautical engineering department.
The Rambler rocket, which would cost only $35,000 to build instead of millions, could be turned out by Michigan industry in mass production lots within a year after the first contract, is obtained, Prof. Morrison, one of the nation's pioneer rocket experts, said.
It is designed to fill a wide variety of experimental uses, he pointed out.
Several Michigan firms have done preliminary work on building the, Rambler, which will be a 40-foot long, 200-pound single stage vehicle capable of carrying a payload of 25 pounds to 1,500 miles high or 3,000 miles surface-to-surface.
“By adding stages it could put a satellite into orbit," Prof. Morrison said puffing on his ever present cigar
ECONOMICAL ROCKET: This model of the “Rambler” rocket, an economical space vehicle developed by aeronautical engineers at the University, towers above the trees on the U-M’s North Campus near the wind tunnel building. The Rambler, which would be built almost entirely in Michigan if contracts become available, costs only $35,000 as compared to $1,800,000 for the “Scout” which is the most economical rocket available today for research purposes.
Prof. Morrison noted that a survey of various U-M departments including physics, medicine, zoology, botany, astronomy and various branches of engineering, indicated that “at least 50 payload shots could be mustered at the U-M alone.”
Last week Prof. Morrison started sending out letters to universities and other potential civilian rocket buyers throughout the nation asking estimates on the number of rockets they could use.
Replies to these letters should give some idea of the demand for an inexpensive rocket for experimental purposes in this country, he noted. ,
“The Rambler could also be sold to foreign nations for research purposes as it would have no military classification,” Prof. Morrison said.
Pointing out that Michigan, a former major aircraft producing state, had lost nearly all of its aeronautics business, Prof. Morrison said that “we better have the capability in this state to do this sort of thing or give way to the Pacific coast.”
“We are now exporting most of our graduates in aeronautical engineering to California,”. Prof. Morrison said, adding! that “we should have the ability to use these people here in Michigan — they are well trained and well respected by industry."
Prof. Morrison said that 100 Rambler rockets could be built for a cost equal to that of building one of the large rockets the government is firing for experimental purposes.
“This is a rocket that has been engineered entirely in Michigan and will be built almost entirely within the state,” Prof. Morrison said. “This kind of thing is of tremendous importance to Michigan,” he added.
The Rambler got its start about a year and a half ago when the U-M Research Institute gave $4,000 to study the possibilities of building a cheap, effective rocket for research purposes.
"But a lot of the credit goes to U-M researchers. who worked on the Rambler design in their spare time without pay," Prof. Morrison said.
A team of Michigan industrial concerns including the electronics division of Sparton Corp. in Jackson; Lear Inc., Grand Rapids; Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co., Muskegon; Wyandotte Chemical Co., Wyandotte; and Vickers, Inc., Detroit, have participated in the planning phase and will go ahead with the rocket’s manufacture as soon as contracts are available.
Sparton will contribute the ground station electronics; Lear the on-board electronics: Wyandotte the propellant fuels; Vickers the launching apparatus; and Brunswick the plastic fiberglass for the main body reinforcement of the Rambler.
"These companies have spent a lot of money and valuable time,” Prof. Morrison said. Bell Aircraft is now the only out-of-state firm that is involved in the planning and construction of the Rambler. Bell will provide the Hustler motor, which Prof. Morrison calls “the most ‘ reliable, best tested liquid rocket motor in the United States today.”
Among other features of the Rambler is the Brunswick firm’s design for a fiberglass body reinforcements which cut down on the vehicle’s weight through its high strength to weight ratio and and by permitting the use of bare wires instead of insulated ones.
In addition, having only one umbical (ground control cable), the Rambler could be launched anywhere, while the Cavea B fuel of the Wyandotte Chemical Co., combined with the new system of weight reduction features of the rocket itself, makes possible a lot of fuel for the weight of the rocket, Prof. Morrison said. .
Other U-M engineers and scientists who have had a hand in developing the Rambler include Edward J. Schaefer who worked on the development of Atlas and David R. Glass who worked with Prof. Morrison on the development of Atlas and Thor Able rockets.
Others were Prof. Julius D. Schetzer, who now works on the Titan program; Prof. Wilbur C. Nelson, chairman of the U-M department of aeronautical engineering; Profs. Robert . E. Cullen, Donald E. Rogers and Hans P. Liepman, and Seth Tuttle.
The Rambler project has been received favorably by Gov. G. Mennen Williams and members of the Michigan Legislature. A model built to the exact specification for the rocket has been erected on the U-M North Campus near the Wind Tunnel Building,
University of Michigan - Research
University of Michigan - Department of Aeronautical Engineering
University of Michigan Research Institute
Wyandotte Chemical Co
Wind Tunnel Building
University of Michigan - North Campus
Ann Arbor News
Edward J. Schaefer
David R. Glass
Julius D. Schetzer
Wilbur C. Nelson
Robert E. Cullen
Donald E. Rogers
Hans P. Liepman
G. Mennen Williams