'SixyBack' is a 6 inch diameter high performance test platform. It has a radically different design than previous RPL vehicles, making it a lab first on many counts. Its mission was to fly and test RPL's most advanced avionics system to date, its first dual-deployment recovery system and its proprietary nosecone thermal protection system. In addition, SixyBack was RPL's first carbon fiber minimum diameter 6-inch vehicle as well as the first flight vehicle to have a motor case with filament wound layers. Boasting a stylish three fin configuration, ogive nosecone and stunning carbon airframe, this rocket is truly bringin' SixyBack.
Launched on December 1, 2012 from the Mojave Test Area (MTA), SixyBack reached an altitude of 63,000 ft and speeds of up to Mach 4.5, making it the highest and fastest rocket RPL has launched to date. The rocket, built as a test vehicle for Traveler technology, came in ballistic resulting in its complete destruction. The vehicle was located and recovered on January 8, 2013 about 6 miles southeast of its launch site.
After its record breaking climb, SixyBack's nosecone did not eject due to currently unidentified reasons and therefore its parachutes could not and did not deploy. The vehicle came in completely ballistic, impacting the ground at approximately 500 mph. The resulting damage was extensive: currently the wreckage has yielded no salvageable electronic devices or flight data. Fortunately, a visual inspection of the nosecone remains demonstrated that RPL's proprietary thermal protection system, which was tested for the first time on SixyBack, was greatly successful!