‘Texas Two Step’ is an experimental minimum diameter, carbon fiber, two stage vehicle consisting of an 8-inch-diameter booster and a 6-inch-diameter sustainer. The tapered airframe among many other aspects of its complex geometry make this by far the most unique vehicle ever built by RPL. Featuring essentially two of everything, including dual-deployment recovery and full avionics systems for each stage, this rocket is also one of the most involved projects ever undertaken by the lab. Named by former RPL leader and lifelong Texan, Alec Leverette, ‘Two Step’ will be the first vehicle to ever take flight from RPL’s 20 ft launch tower, a structure principally designed and built by Mr. Leverette himself. Flying low and slow to 10,000 ft, purposely breaking apart mid flight, and then cruising up to 70,000 ft at Mach 4, this rocket most definitely can dance!
Launched on April 27, 2013 from the Mojave Test Area (MTA), Texas Two Step christened RPL’s new launch tower as it soared out under the power of its first stage booster to an altitude of 14,000 ft. Upon booster burnout, the stages successfully separated, but the second stage sustainer did not ignite. Detecting apogee the recovery systems deployed, but due to unexpected high horizontal speeds, these systems shredded and the sustainer lawn darted into the dry lake bed. Avionics systems in the nosecone allowed for the successful tracking of the vehicle which was recovered the same day about a mile northwest of its launch site. The first stage booster remains unrecovered.