My Model Rockets

Crossfire ISX

Although I flew a few amateur rockets over sixty years ago, I didn’t fly my first model rocket until recently. This first model was made from an Estes kit, and is called a Crossfire ISX. It is 16″ tall and uses a single motor. The test flight was performed using an A8-3 motor, flew up to a modest 200 feet or so, and made a perfect parachute recovery.

That was just before COVID came along and this rocket sat waiting for better days. It has now been repainted and is ready for launch in May, when the Edmonton Rocketry Club will hold its next public rocket launch in Calmar. Flying on a C6-7 motor, it should reach a respectable 1000 feet altitude and survive to fly again another day.

VK-7

Currently, I am finishing the construction of my second model rocket. The VK-7 Sounding Rocket kit by Rocketarium is about 29″ tall and uses a cluster of two motors in parallel. All I need to do is install the parachute and it will be ready for flight.

The test flight will be with two B4-4 motors, which should propel it to about 360 feet. With two C6-5 motors, it should reach an altitude of about 850 feet. It also features a parachute recovery.

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ERC Rocket Launch

Edmonton Rocketry Club

The Edmonton Rocketry Club held a public rocket launch today, in Calmar, Alberta.

The weather was great and the field was relatively dry. There were thirty or forty people and lots of rockets, big and small (people and rockets).

All things considered, it was a blast!

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Rocketry Hobbies

I became interested in model rocketry while a Boy Scout, attending the 50th Anniversary Jamboree in Colorado Springs, in 1960.  There was a model rocket launch that introduced many of us to what was, back then, a new hobby.

My family moved to California that year, and several years later I started a rocket club with some highschool friends.  We soon acquired sponsorship from the Rocket Research Institute, a group of engineers and professionals from Aerojet who provided facilities and supervision to student rocketeers.  We would build our rockets in Sacramento, then drive into a remote area of Nevada to launch them.

People who build rockets using metal and/or mix their own rocket propellants are usually called amateur rocketeers.  Model rocketeers do not use any metal in their rockets and only use rocket motors manufactured commercially.

After highschool, I moved to Los Angeles and participated in amateur rocketry activities with the Reaction Research Society for several years.  I was attending Northrop Institute of Technology on a part-time basis, which wasn’t enough to protect me from Uncle Sam.  I soon found myself in the Army, stationed at the 8th Radio Research Field Station in Vietnam.  I wasn’t even old enough to vote.

TRIUMF

By the time that I returned to real life, amateur rocketry had ground to a halt due to various laws restricting the activity.  I lost interest, moved to Vancouver, and got a job helping to build and operate the TRIUMF cyclotron at UBC.

Model rocketry was also under legal pressure, but the manufacturers and the model rocketeers fought back and eventually sorted out the federal and local laws, which were adapted for Canada without much fuss.

Preparing my Estes Crossfire ISX for a test flight.
(12 0ct 2019)

Several years ago, members of the Edmonton Rocketry Club starting launching their model rockets here in St. Albert.  I knew one of the members, whom I had worked with at the old Alberta Corporate Service Centre (now Service Alberta).  Model rocket technology has marched forward, and today these rockets fly much higher than most amateur rockets from the 60’s.  I joined and flew one rocket before COVID came along, but am currently building a second rocket.  The ERC now launches rockets from a large field in Calmar. 

Check them out at: www.edmontonrocketry.net

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Composite Materials Fabrication Handbook #1, by John Wanberg

This is an excellent book for anyone getting started with fiberglass or carbon fiber. The examples range from simple to complex, but are well illustrated and described. I want to make some composite nosecones and tubes, and it looks like the techniques in this book will enable me to do that without too much trial-and-error!

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Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, by John D. Clark

This book helps explain why some liquid propellants are “better” than others, and why some should be avoided at all costs! I really liked the chapter devoted to hypergolic propellants, but the chapters on monopropellants and hybrid propellants were also very interesting to me.

Engineering books usually only list technical data concerning propellant combinations, leaving it up to you to decide which combination will meet your needs. If you are designing a liquid bipropellant rocket, Clark’s book can help you make a more informed choice.

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