Thumbing through a 2022 Estes rocketry catalog

Up to 10 igniters at a time and multiple stages get easier, but ejecting the engines for glide recoveries still sounds like a fiddly assembly chore. Maybe there’s a kind of touchpaper that’s not so touchy for glider tube latches…

Just saw ‘The Orbital Children’ on Netflix and am reminded to include lighted tracking tells near apogee, maybe deploy a lace weaving device to catch air drag during recovery, and ideally have intercepts with astrophysical objects (migrating bugs) and an arguments with an AI (maybe flatline a beetle) somewhere out of (a little out?) the gravity well. One can’t have one’s elephant toothpaste and water rocket too, though…


It’s funny how many seemingly unique experiences are actually shared by others.

A few years later, in middle school science class, we all built our own rockets. One of the big two-stagers fell over right at launch and started doing rocket-powered loops at head height. The kid who built it took off running and tried to catch it with our teacher in hot pursuit to stop him. Good times in the 80’s!

All this nostalgia has me signing up for the catalog and scouting launch locations nearby.


Center of Pressure!!!


Yes, good point. FILM camera. Will change in piece.

When I launched that Alpha the first time, things did not go well. I had the launch lug on a little crooked. And I had poorly glued on the fins. Being the impatient kid I was, always wanting to go big, I put the most powerful recommended C engine in it. May dad and I set everything up, I hit the launch button, and nothing… for a tense few seconds and then WHOOSH. At least the rocket body whooshed. The three fins remained on the ground. The launch lug had held the rocket back until the thrust became so great that it tore the lug and the fins clean off. The rocket went about 100 feet in the air, landed on the ground, and snaked around for awhile before popping the nosecone and “deploying” the parachute. My dad and I laughed our assess off.

And when I put this rocket together, I had no hobby supplies. I put this together with school glue, scissors, scotch tape, and a “safety” razor blade with one edge covered in tape. The white paint is interior gloss house paint.


Hehehe, my experiences exactly. After the first incident I coated the tube with epoxy to reinforce it and it would always “stick” the landing from there on out.

The only thing more dangerous to us kids after that was lawn darts.

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Obligatory reminder that you really need to do your research on where you can launch these days to avoid accidentally running afoul of the law, especially if you live in California. The fines for launching in prohibited areas are quite large.

Last time I did it I had to drive a couple counties over and launch from a dry lake bed in the middle of nowhere. But on the plus side it’s kinda a neat experience to drive across a flat, featureless landscape that’s not too unlike the surface of another planet.


I had a number of Estes rockets. I was not a patient modeler then, so success was not certain. I remember my dad building the Scissorwing. That was a neat rocket.I never got a camera.

I also fondly remember having one of the Freon powered ones. “Sure, let’s teach those 70’s kids to just dump Freon into the air. That will never come back and bite us.”


Very good video, and a blast to see some of the old faces. I was there from 1962 to 1977, and while Vern was running things it was a great place to work.


I’m not surprised!

Related, I once found a fascinating website via stumbleupon, back when that was a thing, about water powered pop-bottle rockets. Some of these things were three stages with telemetry modules and cameras. :exploding_head:

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