Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Awesome Launch, New Book, New Rocket

Last Saturday's launch went really well, and it was a lot of fun. Weather was perfect, and I prepped all my rockets before leaving the house, so people didn't have to wait around a lot for us to get stuff ready.

Launching the Estes Crossfire ISX

I did a total of 7 launches, including my two new rockets - the Estes Cosmic Explorer and Estes Hi Flier.

Cosmic Explorer
Hi Flier
 Chad lost one rocket - his two-stage Estes Taser Twin. He'd lost one of these already, and this was only the second time he'd launched his new one - it ended up in a field of tall scrub beyond a barbed wire fence.

It was a great flight, though. As it descended from the sky, the streamer looked like a flame set against the setting sun.

I messed up the final paint job on my Cosmic Explorer, but the thing flew really well, and descended smoothly and beautifully. This might be because I cut a spill hole in the center of the giant parachute, so it was nice and stable coming down.

At dinner afterwards, I learned that a local community college holds a class on model rocketry - essentially a camp for kids - and that they might be looking for a teacher. I might be a rocket n00b, but I have learned a lot in the last two months, and I'm going to look into doing this. It would be fun, and my girlfriend would see my rocketry as a worthwhile pursuit, rather than some nerdy obsession I've gotten into for some reason.

Speaking of learning a lot, I have to recommend a book to my fellow rocket n00bs. I'm currently reading a new model rocketry book called Make: Rockets: Down-to-Earth Rocket Science, by Mike Westerfield. It is due out in paperback on September 22, but you can already get it for Kindle.

This book is from the publishers of the DIY magazine MAKE, and it's really great. The author starts you off building rockets right away, and rather than using kits, he gives you plans and parts lists, so you are essentially making a scratch-built rocket. There are some cool chapters on payload sections, cluster launches, and even building your own launch pad and launch controller - a project I really want to undertake, especially since I'm about to start building my own cluster rockets. Also, Chad just got the Apogee Aspire rocket, which can go over a mile high - or achieve supersonic speeds - but uses an F composite engine, and our little Estes launch controllers just won't handle that!

Back to the book: All the original designs in this book have great, Greco-Roman names, like Juno, Ceres, Cerberus, etc., and there is a lot of actual science for those who are interested.

I'm helping Chad assemble his Aspire rocket, and am using the guillotine fin jig for the first time.

Lots to do!

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