Getting up to speed

So I bought my first kit and started putting together my first rocket. It’s from Estes, which seems like a logical place to start – Estes Industries is the most popular manufacturer of model rocket kits and engines. It was the first company to mass produce model rocket engines, and it’s been around since about 1960. Many of the best selling model rocket kits sold today are from Estes. (I’m learning as I go.)

This particular kit has two small rockets: the Crossfire ISX, which is about 15 inches tall and can go up to 1,150 feet into the air, and the E2X Amazon, which is more than twice as big at about 3 feet tall, and can go approximately 600 feet. The kit also has a reusable launch pad and launch controller (more on this later). I started assembling the Crossfire first. It seems fairly straightforward and shouldn’t take long to complete. Here’s the kit, along with some rocket motors and recovery wadding.

Rocket kit with engines and wadding

In the meantime, I’ve also been reading up on model rockets. I feel like I’ve learned a tremendous amount recently, which is easy when you begin knowing nothing. As a starting point, here’s a basic list of what you need for each launch:

  1. The model rocket (seems obvious)
  2. The rocket motor
  3. Electric igniter for each motor
  4. Recovery wadding (similar to tissue paper, but fireproof, and stuffed inside the rocket)
  5. Launch pad (and launch rod, to hold and aim the rocket vertically), and
  6. Electric launch controller, including a safety key and batteries

This is more or less everything needed (at a minimum) for a successful launch. Most of this stuff comes in the kit, and the rest can be bought separately. These kits have been around for decades now and they make everything pretty simple for beginners like me – at least for these smaller model rockets – so I think I’m off to a good start. I mean, it’s for ages 10 and up, so what could go wrong?

[to be followed by another post where something has gone catastrophically wrong]

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