A rocket launch in the high desert!
Earlier this month, I was able to make it to my first rocket launch in over a year. At first glance, this seems inexcusable for someone whose blog and other social media accounts are primarily dedicated to rockets and rocket launches. In my defense, the past year has been a whirlwind. We moved from Seattle to Los Angeles (with a 5 month old baby) and are getting ready to move out of Los Angeles (with a 17 month old baby). I completed two classes – linear algebra and environmental science – and we tried to see and do as much as possible, knowing that we had just one year to explore southern California. We made it to San Diego (twice!), Santa Barbara, Ojai, Big Bear, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, and lots of beaches, from Malibu and Santa Monica down through Crystal Cove and Laguna Beach, not to mention the countless things we did and places we ate within LA itself. (Griffith Observatory and California Science Center to name just two.)
That said, LDRS 40 – a national rocket launch – was being held just a few hours’ drive outside of LA. How could I not attend?
I left my rockets, motors, tools and equipment up in Seattle temporarily before we moved, so I didn’t bring anything to launch myself. But I wanted to take the opportunity to see other rocketeers and some spectacular launches, and to just meet up with old friends and chat.
Large Dangerous Rocket Ships (“LDRS”) is an annual rocket launch hosted by Tripoli Rocketry Association, a national organization, and the Rocketry Organization of California (“ROC”), a local club. LDRS held its 40th annual event in Lucerne Valley, California, on Lucerne Dry Lake Bed, which is very much a desert. The daily high temperatures were about 105 degrees F. Conditions were what you’d expect: very hot and very dry. There were also some strong winds which carried a lot of the dry dust and sand everywhere.
It was an awesome experience – my first LDRS annual event, and first large national rocket launch event that I’ve ever attended, and my first launch of any kind in over a year. All you needed were sunglasses and an oversized hat, plenty of sunscreen, a limitless supply of water bottles, plus an N95 if you wanted to breathe. Ideally, in retrospect, I should have just worn an astronaut suit for maximum protection but there’s always next year.
Besides, the intense sun and winds were no match for the enthusiasm of this group of people!