Top 8 reasons that rocketry is just like Pokemon

I grew up playing the original Pokemon games on Game Boy Color (Pokemon Red, specifically). The animated show was also popular at that time, and I’d watch an episode or two every morning before heading off to school. At the end of every episode was the “Poke Rap,” and I’d sing/ rap along since I knew it by heart. I’ve played many more Pokemon games since the days of Red/Blue (and Yellow), and I’ve seen additional seasons of the show. The characters change, and they keep adding more Pokemon. But I’ll always retain a certain fondness for the original 150.

Years later, I’ve discovered high power rocketry, and I was recently struck by the similarities. Below I’ve compiled a list of why rocketry is similar to Pokemon:

8. Collecting badges.

I recently earned my level 1 and level 2 certifications in high power rocketry (HPR) from the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), and NAR sent me these two badges. Now I can put these badges on the inside of my jacket and proudly display them whenever someone challenges my rocketry credentials – and after you defeat six more gym leaders to collect additional badges, you too can compete in the rocketry league!

close up of metal badges that say level 1 and level 2 certification

7. Expert guidance from Professor Oak.

You’ll find some great mentors – more experienced rocketeers – who can provide advice and wisdom on rocketry. They may or may not be actual professors named after plants (Oak, Ivy, etc.).

6. Friends like Misty and Brock.

You’ll meet lots of people on your journey and make some great friends along the way, even if you have to steal their bicycle or defeat them in battle first.

5. Team Rocket.

Enough said.

4. A frequently “shocking” experience.

With electrical ignition systems that are used to ignite all modern rocket motors, there’s no shortage of electricity themed puns – just like with every Pikachu attack!

pikachu jumping and using electric attack
a real shocker!

3. A superior rival.

Like Ash and Gary, you’ll discover and battle opponents, and there will always seem to be one who is one step ahead of you, at every turn. Unfortunately, you’ll probably never quite catch up.

2. Mom.

No matter how much you’ve been through and how much you’ve grown, there is always the risk that your mom may show up at the launch site, yelling at you to remember to change your underwear, and otherwise generally embarrassing you in front of a large crowd.

1. Bitter failures and setbacks.

There will be plenty of failures, devastation, and general catastrophe in your future, whether you’re battling with Pokemon or launching rockets. But you’ll learn some important life lessons along the way. And, in any event, things will be neatly wrapped up by the time the credits roll!

High power rocket construction: part 1 (motor mount)

I finally got my head out of my ass and started putting together this high power rocket. (My head is often firmly lodged in my ass, so extracting it is time-consuming and unusual.)

The basic parts are similar to those in smaller rockets. You build a motor mount (to hold the motor in place) by attaching three centering rings. These rings keep the motor mount tube centered – hence the name – within the larger body tube of the rocket. Then you attach the fins to the motor mount. All of these attachments should be made using a strong wood glue or epoxy.

Motor mount
Motor mount

Later in the process, the larger body tube will slide over the mount and will be flush against the edges of the fins, where they can be secured with glue again on the outside of the rocket. They’re held firmly in place, inside and out, which is important because of the high stresses that will be placed on them during launch.

Motor mount with fins attached
Motor mount with fins attached

Finally – you attach a steel eyebolt through one of the centering rings, using some washers and nuts and then a strong epoxy to hold it all in place. The purpose of this is so that you can attach it to a strong (and fireproof) cord inside the rocket body, where the other end of the cord is attached to the nose cone, along with a parachute inside for recovery. This allows the rocket’s nose cone to pop off just after the rocket hits apogee (its highest point in the air) and lets the parachute deploy, while ensuring that all the parts stay together on the way down.

Motor mount with fins, standing upright
The core of the rocket

As a side note, if you include an electronics bay (“e-bay”) in the rocket, which is optional, then you need two cords: one to attach the motor mount to the e-bay, and another to attach the other side of the e-bay to the nose cone, so again everything stays together. The e-bay also have steel eyebolts on both ends for attachment. Just FYI, I’m building and including an empty e-bay in this rocket; I’m not actually installing any electronics in it for the first launch. I want to keep things relatively simple for my level 1 certification flight and will start putting in some interesting electronics for the next launch after that.

If you’ve built and launched any rockets before, you’re probably rolling your eyes at how I’m oversimplifying much of this, and you also likely already identified several inaccurate statements I’ve made. On the other hand, if you’ve never done any of this before, I probably just confused you with a bunch of inadequate and lackluster descriptions.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve failed to satisfy anyone at all with this post. But then, who cares?