Higher and higher

To recap my whole journey so far: as of just a few months ago, I had never built or launched a model rocket of any size. I’m not sure I’d even ever seen one in person (I actually don’t know how I managed that). I started out by googling whether it’s even legal to launch a rocket at all. (For the record, it is.) But I bought one small simple kit, put it together and launched it. And then another, and another.

I’m still at the very beginning of all this, but I’ve now built and launched four separate low and mid power rockets. Some were physically small and others were large. Some required more assembly and construction than others, like sanding and painting. But I now have a decent understanding of the basic parts of a rocket, how they all go together, and how the launch process works. I can’t say I’ve mastered all the basics, but I’m much more comfortable now than I was when I started.

I’ve also just begun to scratch the surface of what can go wrong.

SpaceX rocket launching
SpaceX rocket launch: okay, I’m not quite this advanced yet

I’m ready to dive into high power rocketry (“HPR”), which is both more exciting and more challenging. In some ways, a high power rocket is just a bigger version of a low power rocket. You have the same basic parts – cardboard body tube or airframe, wooden fins, plastic nose cone, motor mount inside to hold the motor in place, recovery system (parachute and shock cord), and a few other things – whether the rocket is small or large.

But at the same time, HPR is in other ways fundamentally different. The key distinction for HPR is the power of the motor; an H class motor or higher generally qualifies as HPR. This is more dangerous and requires certification, as I referenced in a previous post. Organizations like the National Association of Rocketry (“NAR”) certify individuals at level 1, 2, or 3 for purposes of HPR. Even the most basic certification (level 1) requires building a high power rocket with an H or I motor, and launching it successfully (including the recovery) without any catastrophic failure or damage.

HPR starts to involve more durable parts, including a lot of things I’d never heard of: fire blankets, forged eyebolts or u-bolts, electronic bays (“e-bays”), and more.

It’s time to build a high power rocket!

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