Title:
Self-propelled rocket and collapsible rocket launch stand for use in providing the controlled occurence of an avalanche or a mud slide
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-propelled and constant-acceleration rocket for use in triggering an avalanche includes a hollow cylindrical body member having an interior volume, an open top end, and an open bottom end whose exterior surface includes a plurality of flight guidance fins. A partition wall divides the interior volume into an upper volume and a lower volume. An explosive payload is mounted within the upper volume, and a nose cone having a circular and planar tip closes the open top end of the body member. A rocket motor is mounted within the lower volume. The rocket has a center of gravity and a center of pressure that are both located on the rocket's central axis and within the lower volume. The center of gravity is located closer to the open top end than is the center of pressure. A collapsible launch stand holds the rocket in a launch tube for launching of the rocket. Adjustment of a pair of launch tube support members provides for adjustment of the rocket's launch angle.



Inventors:
Seller, Reginald Paul (Okotoks, CA)
Application Number:
09/892114
Publication Date:
01/03/2002
Filing Date:
06/26/2001
Assignee:
SELLER REGINALD PAUL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41F3/045; F42B15/00; (IPC1-7): F42B15/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PARSLEY, DAVID J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & HART LLP,Brian P. Kinnear (P.O. Box 8749, Denver, CO, 80201, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A self-propelled rocket for use in triggering an avalanche, comprising: a hollow cylindrical body member having a central axis, an interior volume that includes an upper volume and a lower volume, an open top end, and an open bottom end whose exterior surface includes a plurality of flight guidance fins; an explosive payload mounted within said upper volume; a nose cone mounted to close said open top end of said body member and having a circular planar tip that extends generally perpendicular to said central axis; a rocket motor mounted within said lower volume; and said rocket having a center of gravity and a center of pressure that are both located on said central axis and within said lower volume, said center of gravity being located closer to said open top end of said body member that is said center of pressure.

2. The rocker of claim wherein said rocket motor is operable to impart a substantially constant acceleration and a generally line of sight flight to said rocket.

3. The rocket of claim 2 wherein said rocket motor is activated by way of an ignition means having a time delay.

4. The rocket of claim 3 wherein said explosive payload comprises: a main charge mass mounted within said upper volume; and a cap detonator of smaller mass than said main charge mounted within said upper volume intermediate said main charge and said nose cone.

5. The rocket of claim 4 wherein said rocket motor provides from about 5 to about 18 pounds thrust to said rocket.

6. The rocket of claim 5 wherein said rocket motor operates to impart a velocity of about 26,000 feet per second to said rocket.

7. The rocker of claim 6 wherein: said body tube is about 17-inches long and has an external diameter of about 2-inches; said nose cone is about 3-inches long; and a diameter of said circular planar tip of said nose cone is about 1.5-inch.

8. The rocket of claim 1 wherein: said center of pressure is located about 7-inches from said bottom end of said body tube; and said center of pressure is located about 5-inches from said bottom end of said body tube.

9. The rocket of claim 8 wherein said rocket motor provides from about 5 to about 18 pounds thrust to said rocket.

10. The rocket of claim 9 wherein said rocket motor operates to impart a velocity of about 26,000 feet per second to said rocket.

11. The rocket of claim 1 including: a partition wall mounted within said body member and dividing said interior volume into said upper volume and said lower volume; said explosive payload being mounted within said upper volume generally adjacent to said partition wall; and said rocket motor being mounted within said lower volume generally adjacent to said open bottom end of said body tube.

12. The rocker of claim 11 wherein said rocket motor is operable to impart a substantially constant acceleration and a generally line of sight flight to said rocket.

13. The rocket of claim 12 wherein said explosive payload comprises: a main charge mass mounted within said upper volume adjacent to said partition wall; and a cap detonator of smaller mass than said main charge mounted within said upper volume intermediate said main charge and said nose cone.

14. The rocket of claim 13 wherein said rocket motor provides from about 5 to about 18 pounds thrust to said rocket.

15. The rocket of claim 14 wherein said rocket motor operates to impart a velocity of about 26,000 feet per second to said rocket.

16. The rocker of claim 15 wherein: said body tube is about 17-inches long and has an external diameter of about 2-inches; said nose cone is about 3-inches long; and a diameter of said circular planar tip of said nose cone is about 1.5-inch.

17. The rocket of claim 11 wherein: said center of pressure is located about 7-inches from said bottom end of said body tube; and said center of pressure is located about 5-inches from said bottom end of said body tube.

18. The rocket of claim 17 wherein said rocket motor provides from about 5 to about 18 pounds thrust to said rocket.

19. The rocket of claim 18 wherein said rocket motor operates to impart a velocity of about 26,000 feet per second to said rocket.

20. In combination with the rocket of claim 1, a collapsible launch stand, comprising: a flat base plate; a pair of spaced and parallel extending support members extending generally vertically upward from said base plate; a pair of spaced and parallel-extending linear launch tube support members; each launch tube support member having one end pivotally connected to said base plate generally adjacent to one of said support members; each launch tube support member having an opposite end; a pair of spaced and parallel extending linear launch tube-positioning members; each launch tube positioning member having one end pivotally connected to said opposite end of one of said launch tube support members; each launch tube positioning member having an opposite end; coupling means associated with said base plate for selectively coupling said opposite ends of said launch tube positioning members to said base plate at a desired common distance from said one end of said launch tube support members; and a launch tube loosely sitting on said launch tube support members so as to engage said support members.

21. The collapsible launch stand of claim 20 wherein: said base plate is about 5 feet long and about 2 feet wide; said launch tube support members are about 3 feet long and extend in a direction of the length of said base plate; and said launch tube positioning members are about 3 feet long and extend in said direction of said length of said base plate.

22. The collapsible launch stand of claim 21 wherein: said rocket is loosely positioned within said launch tube; and said selectively coupling of said opposite ends of said launch tube positioning members to said base plate at a desired common distance from said one end of said launch tube support members operates to determine a launch angle of said rocket.

23. A collapsible launch stand for in launching a self-propelled rocket at a desired angle, comprising: a flat base plate; a pair of spaced and parallel extending support members extending generally vertically upward from said base plate; a pair of spaced and parallel extending linear launch tube support members; each launch tube support member having one end pivotally connected to said base plate generally adjacent to one of said support members; each launch tube support member having an opposite end; a pair of spaced and parallel extending linear launch tube positioning members; each launch tube positioning member having one end pivotally connected to said opposite end of one of said launch tube support members; each launch tube positioning member having an opposite end; coupling means associated with said base plate for selectively coupling said opposite ends of said launch tube positioning members to said base plate at a desired common distance from said one end of said launch tube support members; a launch tube loosely sitting on said launch tube support members so as to engage said support members; and a self-propelled rocker loosely contained within said launch tube.

24. A method of inducing an avalanche to occur on a hillside that has a propensity to naturally generate avalanches, comprising the steps of: providing a self-propelled and constant acceleration rocket having a hollow cylindrical body member with a partition wall that divides said body member into an upper volume and a lower volume; providing an explosive payload mounted within said upper volume; providing a nose cone having a circular and planar tip mounted at an opposite end of said upper volume from said partition wall; providing a rocket motor mounted within said lower volume; said rocket being constructed and arranged to have a center of gravity and a center of pressure that are located a central axis of said rocket and within said lower volume; said center of gravity being located closer to said nose cone end than is said center of pressure; providing a collapsible launch stand for holding said rocket in a launch tube for launching said rocket; providing launch tube support members for adjustment of a launch angle for said launching rocket; transporting said rocket and said launch stand to said hillside; opening said launch stand and adjusting said launch angle; placing said rocket into said launch tube; and activating said rocket motor.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/214,869, filed Jun. 28, 2000 and entitled SELF-PROPELLED AVALANCHE/MUDSLIDE CONTROL APPARATUS.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates to the control of snow avalanches and mudslides. More specifically, this invention provides a self-propelled rocket and a collapsible launch stand that can be easily transported to a desired location in order to produce snow avalanches or mudslides in a controlled manner.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] As used herein, the term avalanche is intended to mean a large mass of snow, ice, earth, mud, rock, or the like, that swiftly moves down an incline such as a mountain side or over a precipice.

[0006] In attempting to prevent dangerous avalanches, explosive devices are conventionally propelled into a mountainside in order to controllably initiate or trigger an avalanche, thus reducing the risk of a naturally occurring, dangerous and uncontrolled avalanche.

[0007] Conventionally, a variety of mechanisms have been used to attempt to trigger an avalanche in a controlled manner. For example, hand charges are lit and then manually thrown into the desired hillside. This method can subject personnel to risks of injury.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,872,326 discloses an apparatus for triggering an avalanche or the like. In the device of this patent, an explosive charge is made up of an explosive, a detonator, and a lighting mechanism for triggering the detonator. The explosive charge is placed in a tube with a propelling charge. A pulling element operates to trigger the lighting mechanism after the explosive charge has been propelled out of the tube.

[0009] Guns can be used to trigger an avalanche, an example of which is an avalanche launch gun, such as the “Avalauncher.” The Avalauncher operates like a gun in that a charge is shot into the air by way of an initial force, whereupon the charge travels a distance which is, at least in part, a function of the initial force that is applied to the charge.

[0010] What is needed is a self-propelled rocket, a collapsible launch stand, and method for triggering an avalanche wherein the rocket is self-propelled at a substantially constant acceleration to travel in a substantially line of sight path to a point of impact. It is against this background that various embodiments of the present invention were developed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] This invention provides a self-propelled rocket and collapsible launch stand that are easily transported by way of a snowmobile, backpack, or the like to a site whereat naturally occurring avalanches are known to occur. Upon setting up of the launch stand at an appropriate angle and the placement of a launch tube thereon, the self-propelled rocket is placed into the launch tube, a rocket motor within the rocket is ignited, and the rocket proceeds to a somewhat distant hillside to then explode and induce an avalanche thereon in a controlled manner.

[0012] As a feature of the invention, a second or redundant rocket motor may be provided such that, after a time delay that is indicative of failure of the first rocket motor to ignite, the second rocket motor ignites whereupon the rocket proceeds to a somewhat distant hillside to then explode and induce an avalanche in a controlled manner.

[0013] The self-propelled rocket moves at a constant acceleration rocket. The rocket includes a hollow cylindrical body member having an interior volume, an open top end, and an open bottom end whose exterior surface includes a plurality of flight guidance fins.

[0014] The inner volume of the hollow cylindrical body provides an upper volume and a lower volume. As a feature of the invention, a partition wall is provided to divide this interior volume into an upper volume and a lower volume.

[0015] An explosive payload is mounted within the upper volume, and a nose cone having a circular and planar tip closes the open top end of the body member. A rocket motor is mounted within the lower volume. The rocket has a center of gravity and a center of pressure that are both located on the rocket central axis and within the lower volume. The center of gravity is located closer to the open top end than is the center of pressure.

[0016] A collapsible launch stand holds the rocket in the launch tube for launching of the rocket. Adjustment of a pair of launch tube support members provides for adjustment of the rocket launch angle.

[0017] The rocket center of gravity is located closer to the cone end of the rocket than is the rocket center of pressure, and the tip of the cone is a flat plane that extends generally perpendicular to the rocket central axis; i.e., generally perpendicular to the rocket direction of flight. With these characteristics, and as a result of the rocket fins and the rocket velocity at the time that motor burnout occurs, it is ensured that upon rocket motor burn out occurring, the rocket drops in a declining trajectory downward and into the hillside.

[0018] These and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reference to the following detailed description which description makes reference to the drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0019] FIG. 1 is a side view of a self-propelled rocket in accordance with the invention, the rocket internally having an explosive payload that is adapted to detonate upon impact with a slope having a propensity to naturally generate an avalanche.

[0020] FIG. 2 is a side view of a manually-lightable igniter, or fuse, that operates to ignite a rocket motor that is within the FIG. 1 rocket.

[0021] FIG. 3 is a side view of a mobile launch stand for use in positioning the FIG. 1 rocket prior to launch of the rocker, the launch stand being shown in its collapsed position.

[0022] FIG. 4 is a top view of the FIG. 3 collapsed launch stand.

[0023] FIG. 5 illustrates the FIG. 1 rocket within a launch tube that is positioned on the FIG. 3 launch stand, the launch stand now being in its opened or upright position, and the launch tube loosely resting against a pair of vertically extending support members that are a portion of the launch stand.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0024] The following embodiments and examples of the present invention are illustrative of the invention, and are not restrictive of the spirit and scope of the invention. Modifications that come within the meaning and range of present and after developed equivalence are to be included within the spirit and scope of the invention. While the invention will be shown and described with reference to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0025] Referring to FIG. 1, rocket 10 in accordance with the present invention includes a nose cone 11, a body tube 12 that is adapted to internally hold an explosive payload 13, a rocket motor 14, and a plurality of external flight guidance fins 15 that are mounted on body tube 12 at the opposite end from nose cone 11.

[0026] The rocket nose cone 11 is positioned at the top end 16 of rocket 10, while rocket motor 14 is positioned generally at the bottom end 17 of rocket 10. As will be explained below, explosive payload 13 is positioned toward the top end 16 of rocket 10. When rocket 10 hits snow/mud/ground, explosive payload 13 detonates to start an avalanche in a controlled manner.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 1, nose cone 11 is generally conically-shaped and extends from an interface end 18 that is adapted to connect to body tube 12 to a top end 19 that comprises a generally flat plane that extends perpendicular the central axis 20 of rocket 10.

[0028] The flat top end 19 of nose cone 11 is provided so that when rocket 10 physically contacts or engages the snow, mud or the ground, nose cone 11 provides a larger contact area 19 against the snow/mud/ground when compared to a non-flat top cone end, such as a conventional pointed end that terminates at a sharp tip. In one example, nose cone 11 of the present invention was about 2.75-inches long (see dimension 24), had a 1.5-inch diameter area at its flat top end 19, and was formed from molded plastic.

[0029] The top end 21 of the rocket body tube 12 is mechanically coupled to the interface end 18 of nose cone 11. Body tube 12 provides a two-part internal volume, or area 22, for the storage of explosive payload 13, provides a bottom end external and cylindrical surface region 23 for the attachment of a plurality of flight guidance fins 15, and provides a lower internal volume or area 25 for housing rocket motor 14.

[0030] Body tube 12 has a top end 21 and a bottom end 23, and in one example, body tube 12 was a generally circular cylinder having a centrally-located axis 20, and having a hollow interior 22 that extended therethrough. In one example, body tube 12 was 14-inches in axial length, and was made of fiber wound plastic, or like material. The bottom end 23 of body tube 12 further includes has a plurality of slots (not shown) that are adapted to receive rocket guidance fins 15 (for example, four slots for four fins 15). These slots extend parallel to axis 20 and are cut into the bottom end 23 of body tube 12, each slot being, for example, {fraction (1/16)} of an inch in width. These slots can be equally spaced about the periphery of the body tube, for example at 90-degree intervals.

[0031] Furthermore, body tube 12 is adapted to house rocket motor 14 at its bottom end 23 and within lower volume 25. In one example, body tube 12 had an outer diameter of 2.2-inches and an inner diameter of 2.1-inches, thus providing a wall thickness of 0.1-inch.

[0032] In one example, rocket motor 14 was positioned and held within the interior 22 of body tube 12 through the use of O-rings or like structures (not shown), which non-movably secure rocket motor 14 within body tube 12.

[0033] Further, fins 15 (in one example comprising four fins made of molded plastic) are secured within the slots formed within body tube 12 through the use of an adhesive substance such as glue, or rivets or other securement means.

[0034] In order to position explosive payload 13 within body tube 12, a rigid partition or bulkhead 30 may be positioned within the interior 22 of body tube 12 at a desired location along axis 20. Bulkhead 30 divides volume 22 into a lower volume 25 and an upper volume 26. Partition 30 comprises a flat and rigid disk whose plane extends generally perpendicular to axis 20. In one example, partition 30 was a solid disk-shaped member that was positioned within body tube 12 at a desired location, and then secured within body tube 12 using, for example, rivets or an adhesive substance, such as glue.

[0035] The axial position of partition 30 is dependent upon the size of explosive payload 13, and this positioning of partition 30 affects how rocket 10 travels after rocket motor 14 has burned out. Preferably, partition 30 is positioned between motor 14 and explosive payload 13, and generally towards the top end 21 of body tube 12.

[0036] Rocket motor 14 provides a means to propel rocket 10 during flight, preferably at a substantially constant acceleration with increasing velocity, in order to deliver explosive payload 13 to a desired location. In one example, rocket motor 14 was an H45W rocket motor by Aerotech Consumer Aerospace of Las Vegas this rocket motor having a 15 to 18 pound initial thrust (preferably an 18 pound initial thrust) and preferably this rocket motor operates for 7.1 seconds until burnout, with an average thrust of approximately ten pounds being distributed over the 7.1 seconds of operation.

[0037] In one example, a rocket 10 with such a rocket motor 14 traveled a distance of one mile, in an approximately line of sight flight path, when fired at a 35-degree angle relative to a horizontal plane. In one example, rocket motor 14 had an axial length of 7-inches and an outer diameter of 1.5-inches. By way of example, rocket 10 had a dimension 27 of 17.5-inches and a dimension 28 of 16.75-inches.

[0038] In order to reduce the amount of travel of rocket 10 after burnout of motor 14 occurs, and in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, it was desirable to use fins 15 of a small size, and it was desirable to position explosive payload 13 within body tube 12 in a forward position. By reducing the amount of travel of rocket 10 after engine burnout occurs, the risk that rocket 10 will travel a substantial distance after burnout, and thereby possibly miss the desired target, is reduced. Preferably, rocket 10 travels a distance that is a function, in part, of the size of rocket motor 14, the burn time of motor 14, and the particular dimensions and configurations of rocket 10.

[0039] In one example, four equally-spaced fins 15 were provided to assist rocket 10 in flying in a stable manner and in a relative straight line. Each fin 15 had an approximate thickness of {fraction (1/16)}-inch, a width of 1.365-inches (measured perpendicular to axis 20), and a length of 6-inches (measured parallel to axis 20). Each fin 15 had a slanted leading edge 31 approximately 2-inches long and a 2-inch long slanted trailing edge 32 that axially-extended approximately 1-inch beyond the bottom end 23 of body tube 12 and rocket motor 14. This form of a slanted trailing edge 32 has been found to improve the flight stability of rocket 10, and the slanted trailing edges 32 have been found to reduce deterioration of fins 15 due to heat generated by rocket motor 14.

[0040] Further, in one example, explosive payload 13 was positioned relatively forward within body tube 12, as is shown in FIG. 1, in order to reduce an amount of travel of rocket 10 after burnout of rocket motor 14 has been completed. The axial position of explosive payload 13 within body tube 12 is governed, in part, by the position of the above-mentioned partition/bulkhead 30 by the axial length of explosive payload 13, and by the weight of explosive payload 13.

[0041] In one example, a 8 ounce explosive payload 13 was 1⅝-inches in diameter and 4¾ inches long; and for this explosive payload 13 partition 30 was positioned 5½-inches from the top end 21 of body tube 21, resulting in a distance traveled of 1.25 miles by rocket 10.

[0042] In another example, a 10 ounce explosive payload 13 was 2-inches in diameter and 4¾-inches long; and partition 30 was positioned 5⅘-inches from the top end 21 of body tube 12, to thereby produce travel distance of 1.00 miles by rocket 10.

[0043] In another example, a 12 ounce explosive payload 13 was 2¼-inches in diameter and 4¾-inches long, partition 30 was positioned 6 inches from the top end 21 of body tube 12, to produce a travel distance of 0.85 miles by rocket 10.

[0044] In another example, for an explosive payload 13 of 8, 10, or 12 ounce, partition 30 was positioned at from 5¾-inch to 6¾-inch from the top end 21 of body tube 12.

[0045] It is understood that the dimensions provided herein are by way of example only, and that the particular structure and positioning of each of the elements of rocket 10 for triggering an avalanche is a matter of choice depending upon the particular implementation.

[0046] Furthermore, the flight stability and distance that rocket 10 travels after rocket motor 14 has burned out is also governed by the relative positions of the center of pressure 34 and the center of gravity 35 of rocket 10. Preferably, the center of pressure 34 is located on axis 20, within lower volume 25, and toward the bottom end 17 of rocket 10, whereas the center of gravity 35 is located on axis 20, within lower volume 25, and toward the top end 16 of rocket 10. That is, the center of pressure 34 is below the center of gravity 35.

[0047] The axial position of the center of pressure 34 is controlled, in part, by the size of fins 15 and by the position of fins 15 along the axial length 20 of body tube 12, by the diameter of body tube 12, and by the shape of nose cone 11. In one example, the rocket center of pressure 34 was 7-inches above the bottom end 23 of body tube 12.

[0048] The position of the rocket center of gravity 35 depends, in part, on the position of explosive payload 13 within body tube 12. Preferably, center of gravity 35 is above center of pressure 34 by a distance that is approximately equivalent to the outer diameter of body tube 12. In one example, body tube 12 had an outer diameter of 2.2-inches.

[0049] By positioning the center of gravity 35 above the center of pressure 34, rocket 10 of the present invention is “nose heavy.” Thus, upon burnout of motor 14 occurring, rocket 10 quickly falls to the ground, with nose cone 11 striking the ground/avalanche/mud with an acceleration that is approximately equal to the acceleration of rocket 10 before motor burn out occurred, thereby detonating explosive payload 13.

[0050] Explosive payload 13, in one example of the present invention, comprised a main charge 40 and a cap detonator 41. Main charge 40 was a booster explosive having an ultra high explosive rating with a detonation velocity of approximately 26,000 feet per second. Main charge 40, when detonated, was responsible for initiating an avalanche.

[0051] Cap detonator 41 was positioned proximate to main charge 40, and was preferably secured to the top end of main charge 40, as is shown in FIG. 1, toward the top end 21 of body tube 12. Cap detonator 41 is a high explosive that ignites with as much force as is required to detonate main charge 40.

[0052] In operation, and after rocket motor 14 has burned out, rocket 10 decelerates downward and into the ground/snow/mud, with nose cone 11 pointing down, and with nose cone 11 being the first element of rocker 10 to contact the ground/snow/mud. Because of the positioning of cap detonator 41 toward the top end 16 of rocket 10, with main charge 40 being positioned behind cap detonator 41, upon impact, main charge 40 (which weighs more than cap detonator 41) slides forward within body tube 12 and crushes cap detonator 41. Cap detonator 41 then ignites and causes main charge 40 to detonate, which then initiates an avalanche. A small primer is associated with cap detonator 41. This primer explodes cap detonator 41, whereupon main charge 40 explodes. In other words, the explosion sequence comprises an impact, detonation of the primer, detonation of cap detonator 41, and detonation of main charge 40.

[0053] An ignition system for igniting rocket motor 14 is also disclosed herein. In one example (not shown), a conventional battery and an electric squib were used to ignite the rocket motor.

[0054] As an alternative for use where allowed by government regulation, FIG. 2 shows a fuse assembly 45 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention for igniting rocket motor 14. Preferably, fuse assembly 45 includes a fuse portion 46 and a portion 47 of heat-shrink material that surrounds a portion of fuse 46. Fuse 46 is preferably a black powder fuse that is made of string-like material (i.e., candlewick cotton), approximately ⅛-inch in diameter and 11¼-inches long.

[0055] The length of heat-shrink material 47 is preferably 6-inches long. A length 48 of fuse 46 is bent along the outer perimeter of heat-shrink material 47. Because a portion of fuse 46 is contained inside of heat-shrink material 47, once the end 59 fuse 46 is lit, fire within the lit fuse travels efficiently toward the top end 50 of fuse assembly 45.

[0056] Furthermore, fuse 46 preferably extends from the back portion 51 of heat-shrink material 47 by approximately 10-inches, which 10-inch extension provides an ignition delay period. Fuse 49 preferably burns at a rate of approximately 1-inch every 1.4 seconds.

[0057] In one example, the top end 50 of fuse assembly 45 was dipped into a fire fluid to promote the rapid and instantaneous combustion of the top end 50 of fuse 49 proximate rocket motor 14. It has been found that a more instantaneous and complete combustion of the top end 50 of fuse assembly 45, proximate rocket motor 14, promotes improved lighting and firing of rocket motor 14. In one example, the fire fluid was an acetone-based solution generally described in “The Chemistry of Pyrotechnics” by John A. Conkling, 1985, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.

[0058] Preferably, after the top end 50 of the assembly 45 is immersed in the fire fluid, a thin line of the fire fluid is dripped along the outer perimeter of heat-shrink material 47, approximately half way down its length. Fuse assembly 47 is then permitted to dry.

[0059] Upon fuse assembly 45 being formed as above described, and after rocket 10 has been positioned on launch stand 55 (shown in FIGS. 3-5 and described below), the top end 50 of fuse assembly 45 is inserted into an opening (not shown) that is within rocket motor 14, this opening being adapted to receive a fuse. Fuse assembly 45 can then be manually lit at the end 49 that is opposite to rocket motor 14, in order to ignite rocket motor 14 and propel rocket 10 toward a desired target.

[0060] Referring now to FIGS. 3-4, a launch stand 55 in accordance with the present invention is shown. Launch stand 55 includes a pair of parallel-extending and rigid launch tube support members 56, about 34-inches long, whose ends 57 are pivotally coupled to the ends 58 of a pair of parallel extending and rigid positioning members 59 that are about 34-inches long.

[0061] Launch tube support members 56 are adapted to loosely support a launch tube 60 (see FIG. 5) having a rocket 10 positioned therein. In this position, the bottom end 36 of launch tube 60 rests against a pair of upright support members 37.

[0062] At one end 61, launch tube support members 56 are rotatably connected to a flat base plate 62 by way of a dowel pin 63. At the other end 57, launch tube support members 56 are rotatably coupled to positioning members 59 by way of a dowel pine 64.

[0063] The ends 66 of positioning members 59 extend between a parallel set of rails 65 that are non-movably secured to base plate 62. Rails 65 act as guide members on which the ends 66 of positioning members 59 can slide.

[0064] In one example, a plurality of openings 67 were provided within rails 65 to securely and adjustably position the ends 66 of positioning members 59 relative to rails 65 and base plate 62. Alternatively, positioning members 59 can be adjustably secured to rails 65 by the use of one or more clamps (not shown).

[0065] By moving the ends 66 of positioning members 59 relative to rails 65 changes the position of the pivot point at which launch tube support members 56 are connected to positioning members 59 (i.e., at dowel pin 64). In this way, this pivot point can be moved up or down to provide various angles for launch tube 60 relative to base plate 62.

[0066] A portion of launch tube support members 56 supports launch tube 60, and a rocket 10 that is located therein, after launch stand 55 has been appropriately set and secured to achieve a desired angle for launch tube 60, as shown in FIG. 5.

[0067] Launch stand 55, preferably in the collapsed position shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, is adapted to be towed behind a snowmobile, or to be mounted in or on a stretcher that is connected to a snowmobile, so that launch stand 55 is easily moveable to a location that is susceptible to avalanches. Launch stand 55 can also be adapted to be carried using shoulder straps (not shown), or by way of a backpack.

[0068] In one example, base plate 62 of launch stand 55 was 5½ feet long and 2 feet wide.

[0069] As shown in FIG. 5, launch tube 60 is preferably a hollow cylindrical tube having a closed bottom that can be made of similar materials as body tube 12 of rocket 10. Preferably, launch tube 60 has a 4¾-inch inner diameter, and preferably the difference between the inner diameter of launch tube 60 and the outer dimensions of rocket 10 (including fins 15) is 0.015-inch.

[0070] In overall operation, rocket 10 is formed and explosive payload 13 positioned at a desired location within body tube 12. Launch stand 55 is placed and oriented in a proper position and at a proper angle for the firing of rocket 10. Launch tube 60 is then placed on launch stand 55, and rocket 10 is inserted within launch tube 60. An ignition assembly 45 is then inserted into rocket engine 14 and the ignition assembly is activated; for example, a fuse is lit. After rocket motor 14 is ignited, rocket 10 travels, in one example, with substantially constant acceleration and in a substantially straight line of sight. When rocket motor 14 burns out, rocket immediately 10 falls and hits the ground/snow/mud. Due to the inertia that is created by the force of rocket motor 14, main charge 40 now slides forward within body tube 12 and crushes cap detonator 41 and its primer, thus igniting cap detonator 41, and thus detonating main charge 40. The resulting explosion then triggers an avalanche.

[0071] It is believed that the blast created by rocket 10 is directional and in the same direction as the flight of the rocket. If desired, main charge 40 may be constructed and arranged to provide a desired direction of blast upon impact.

[0072] While the present invention has been described and shown in terms of a rocket 10 having particular dimensions and an explosive payload 13 having particular weights and dimensions, and a fuse assembly 45 and a launch stand 55 having particular characteristics, it is understood that these details are by way of example only and that changes in rocket 10, explosive payload 13, fuse assembly 45, and/or launch stand 55 are a matter of choice within the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0073] FIG. 6 is a partially sectioned view of the explosive payload 13 assembly. A percussion primer 41A and a shock tube 41B interact with the high-explosive main charge 40 as described.

[0074] FIG. 7 is an end view of launch tube 60A with a rocket 60A in place. In this particular example, guide rails 81-84 run the length of tube 60A and support the outer periphery of rocket 10A during its outward travel although these rails are somewhat spaced from the rocket IOA outer surface. Supports members 81-84 are preferably offset from fins 15 as shown.

[0075] If desired, a secondary or redundant explosive charge can be included within the body of rocket 10. This charge could be located at the top end of the rocket motor and configured to explode a predetermined time period after impact or launch of the rocket. The rocket would then be buried in the snow, mud, etc. and produce the desired end result. Thus, if the explosive payload 13 should fail, the secondary charge would detonate after the time delay exploding both itself and the primary payload 13. Conversely, the secondary charge could likewise be detonated by payload 13 when it successfully detonates.

[0076] While the methods disclosed herein has been described and shown with reference to particular steps performed in a particular order, it will be understood that these steps may be combined, sub-divided, or re-ordered to form an equivalent method without departing from the teachings of the present invention. Accordingly, unless specifically indicated herein, the order and grouping of the steps is not a limitation of the present invention.