Jeanne O’Lone

Clay Canaveral Headquarters, San Rafael, CA


June 24, 2002


RELEASE: 02-02


MUDROCK 9.0 – BLACK ROCK DESERT, NEVADA: Gumby’s Mission into near-space scrubbed

Plagued by disasters on the ground and in the air, in addition to winds that were deemed unsuitable for launching, Clay Brothers’ Rocketry was unable to find an acceptable launch window for Gumby’s ascent into near-space this weekend.

The group’s projects for the MudRock event started off well with Mission Specialist Peter Clay’s acquisition of his Level 2 certification in high-powered rocketry.  He received his Level 2 after successfully launching “Terry,” (a PML Pterodactyl model rocket) using a J350 motor. 

Terry on the way up



Brother and Chief Science Officer Jamie Clay’s attempts to reach Level 2 certification were less successful.  Forensic examination of video footage and rocket parts revealed that the in-air destruction of the “Uber-Roc” (which was launched with a K1100T motor) was caused in part by unforeseen excessive spin during flight, which resulted in structural failure of the rocket body.  The spin was likely caused by its design. 

Clay Brothers' picking up the obvious Uber-Roc parts


Part of the Uber-Roc's payload

Kevin O’Lone, Search and Recovery Specialist (and Black Rock party consultant), spearheaded the successful effort to recover the expensive camera and video transmitting devices, which were part of the Uber-Roc mission equipment.  “We found a piece of the payload section and developed a theory for the debris field based on that known point, the weight of the part found, the weight of the parts missing and the rocket’s launch point,” he explained.  Mr. O’Lone was relieved to learn that subsequent testing of the equipment proved it was still in working order.

The explosion on the pad of Jamie’s second effort (aptly named “Vanishing Act”) was the result of a faulty J350 motor.  The manufacturer has accepted responsibility and will replace the motor and the motor casing.  Mr. Clay accepted this event with his usual flair, saying as he walked out to pick up the pieces, “Well, it certainly didn’t go as high as it sim’d!”  (“Sim’d” is high-power rocketry jargon for results obtained by flight simulation software.) 

“It was tough watching his face after the second attempt failed,” said Jeanne O’Lone, Chief Putty Officer.  “You know, after the first attempt went awry, he built a second Level 2 rocket right here on the desert in less than a day.  I watched him reinforce the fins with an ingenious pin design.  As one of the officials here said, it was a heroic effort.  It’s just too damn bad that it was destroyed by a faulty motor.”

Vanishing Act  on the pad then everywhere


When asked to comment on why he decided to scrub Gumby’s mission, Jamie said, “It wasn’t the time or the place to be putting Gumby on top of that candle, especially after the explosion on the launch pad.  By the time we collected all the parts and determined the cause, the winds had really picked up.”  

When asked for comment Gumby asserted, “It was the right move, plus this way we get to hype the dang launch more!”


Gumby’s mission will likely be rescheduled to take place at the next Lunar club launch in Livermore California on Sunday July 14th.  Visit for more details.




Clay Brothers Rocketry was established in 1955, and is dedicated to the advancement of video rocketry and related sciences (including the launching of clay-based creatures into the stratosphere).  Please visit our website at in the coming days for more details including flight reports, videos and pictures of MudRock 9.0, as well as updates on Gumby’s mission.