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Rockets that go “pop!”

May 2, 2005

I took my son, Ethan, to his first rocket launch last Sunday (Battle Park, May 1st). Ethan is just a few days shy of 3 years old and he’s never been to a launch before. For that matter, I haven’t been to one in a few years, either. I’m getting back into it, though, and will try to get certified Level 1 and 2 this summer with my new toy, an Endeavour from Public Missiles (It was a birthday present from my wife, thanks Amy!). Hopefully it won’t meet the same fate as the guy and his endeavour I met this weekend, two launch attempts, two failures. One engine blow up (more commonly called a “failure”) and one failed parachute deployment.

I figured Ethan would have a lot of fun. He certainly did, he talked about it all the way down to the launch site and for the rest of the day afterwards. “Mommy, we saw rockets!”. He jumped everytime one was launched as he wasn’t used to the sound they make. We saw a handful of smaller rockets (I’d guess B or C engine size mainly), one F25, and one I. I’m not really into the small stuff anymore, but Ethan seemed to like them, and all were built by kids AFAICT. It’s nice to see kids getting interested in these hobbies. Hopefully Ethan will be building rockets of his own in a few years.

The F and the I put on nice flights. Except the I flew in an arc for some reason, and not straight up. I had to cover Ethan’s ears up for that one, luckily I remembered that the larger engines are surprisingly loud.

We did see one failure, though. Someone was going for his level 2 with what looked like some kind of Pteradactyl on a J engine. Engine lights, rocket clears the launch rod, then ‘pop!’, pieces of the engine start heading towards the spectators, and the rocket falls to the ground. Hopefully the damage wasn’t too bad. No pieces reached the crowd and noone was hurt. That’s the last thing I need with Ethan’s first launch. Him getting hit with a flying engine piece :).

Hopefully I’ll be at a launch very soon with my own rocket.

Now, to actually build the stupid thing….

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