ROCK’s March Launch

I’ve posted photos from ROCK’s March, 2012, launch in the Photo Album.

I arrived early to show off the new Mobile-edition of

For a day in early March, it was quite hot. But, “in like a lion” held true as high winds plagued us all day.

We had to watch the anemometer and stop the launch when the wind speed exceeded 20 miles per hour. In spite of the wind, we launched many rockets.

Chris flew his Centurion as a two-stager using an ST-16 Booster Nozzle.

The rocket reached only about 30-feet in altitude when the second stage ignited. But, it seemed to take a moment for the second-stage motor to come up to fill-powered. The rocket seemed to hang in the air for a while, before rushing away then taking a turn and heasding for the

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Team America Rocketry Challenge Featured at White House Science Fair

Each year, about 7,000 students from middle and high schools across the nation compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. Each team designs, builds, flies, and tests a model rocket that must reach a specific altitude and duration as determined by a set of rules which change each year. Teams make test flights to qualify for the finals which are held each May in Washington. DC. The top 100 teams are invited to the national finals which awards prizes including $60,000 in cash and scholarships split between the top ten finishers.

Teams of students from Presidio, Texas, have made it to the TARC finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Although Presidio is one of the poorest areas in Texas, teachers and the community came together to help the students make the trips to Washington. And, in February of 2012, members of the Presidio High School Rocketry Team made another trip to Washington. They attended the

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“How to Build Model Rockets” at

Chris Michielssen’s “How to Build Model Rockets” tutorial is now featured on the home page of the National Association of Rocketry’s web site. The series of articles is the first reference listed in the sites’s “More Rocket and Rocketry Information” section.

Chris recently donated the tutorial to NAR which quickly moved it to its new home at The series contains a detailed description of how to build and finish a model rocket. Although appropriate for beginners, “How to Build Model Rockets” offers a number of tips and techniques of interest to all model rocket builders.

Chris first built and flew model rockets in 1969. He currently runs Odd’l Rockets, a manufacturer of model rocket kits, and maintains the Model Rocket Building Blog.

ROCK’s February 2012 Launch Video

We had a record turnout at the February launch!

Photos from the January, 2012, Tampa Tripoli Rocket Launch

The year started off great for TTRA with nice weather for the first launch of the year.

The day began with light winds and a mostly-clear sky. As clouds moved in later, the wind actually let up a little.

Several boost gliders took to the air including this one from Astron Mike.

Brian Urban’s beautiful X-15 turned in an exciting flight. After flying straight for a couple hundred feet, it made a dramatic turn then flew horizontally for a while. It looked like a real X-15 in flight! The pod ejected and the X-15 glided around in a lazy circle landing smoothly on the grass field.

The X-15 was followed by a Sidewinder that, amazingly, followed almost the same trajectory.

Although it’s a little blurry, I managed to capture this cool image of an Estes Solar Flare staging.

I launched my Shadow clone on a G

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Video from the January ROCK Launch

I created the following short video from high-speed (slow-motion) footage of the January ROCK launch I took with my Casio EX-F1 camera.

Black Powder Storage and Transport

Looking for a safe and convenient way to store and transport the black powder used for ejection charges, I found the Traditions Performance Firearms Muzzleloader Composite Tubular Flask with valve (black) at It cost less than $15 and arrived in two days since I have an Amazon prime membership.

The flask is made of a hard, black plastic. It has a high-quality feel to it. The top screws off and it holds about six ounces of black powder. The flask has a button that you press that opens a valve allowing you to dispense just the amount of powder you need.

I usually use Newtons 3rd ejection cannisters or I make ejection charges using plastic wrap. In either case, the Traditions Performance Flask will make the process it easier and safer.

January ROCK Launch Photos

I’ve posted my photographs from the January, 2012, ROCK launch in the ROCK Launches Photo Album.

A comfortable temperature, clear skies, and, for the first couple of hours, no wind at all, the weather was as close to perfect for rocket launching as I’ve ever seen.

Carl launched his SpaceX Falcon which he had built the previous night.

Other than the parachute not opening, the rocket turned in a perfect flight.

The lack of wind encouraged me to load a G motor into my clone of the Estes Shadow instead of an F. The rocket flew straight up trailing a stream of black smoke. The seven-second delay was just a bit too long, but close enough. The yellow parachute filled with air and the rocket floated gently to earth, landing in the adjacent field.

Many really nice scale models were flown including this Gemini Titan on a cluster

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Falcon 9 Model Rocket Kit Now Available from SpaceX

SpaceX’s flying scale model of their Falcon 9 rocket is now available from The 1/88 scale rocket is about 23″ tall and uses clear plastic fins for flight which may be removed for display.

According to the description at

On December 8, 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to launch, fly, and recover a spacecraft from Earth orbit. The Falcon 9 rocket delivered the Dragon spacecraft to orbit where it circled the Earth at speeds greater than 7,600 meters per second (17,000 miles per hour). After nearly two orbits, Dragon fired its thrusters to begin reentry and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean 3 hours, 19 minutes and 52 seconds after liftoff. Now you can build and fly your own 1:88 scale model of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft. With molded nose and tail, and full color stickers for body and nose, the

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A Handy Little Scale

Getting accurate weights of individual parts is important when choosing a motor for a rocket and for modeling and simulating a rocket in Rocksim or OpenRocket. For larger rockets, especially, it is sometimes difficult to weigh parts on a flat scale. So, here’s something else I bought from and “re-purposed” for rocketry use. It’s a “Digital Hanging Scale” that’s commonly used for weighing fish. It’s small, a little larger and heavier than a deck of playing cards, and cost less than $20. I’ve found it handy for weighing parts of larger rockets and it’s small enough to carry to a launch just in case you need to weigh something onsite.