Dad and Mike’s Rocket Launch Adventures- Post 1: Launch Site Surveys

Greetings readers:

Hope all is well with you. I’m home sick with a 24 hour bug that somehow morphed into 48 hours, so I have a bit of free time to post a blog. Some of you might have seen some Twitter or FB posts about my son and I taking up the hobby of model rocketry. Since I started my career as a system engineer on a Navy Space program, I’ve had the privilege and joy of viewing real satellite launches from Kennedy Space Center. Needless to say, this is and will be a lot of fun. The excitement has been heightened not only by viewing model rocket launches on YouTube but finding out how old this hobby is, as well as knowing that my son can earn some Scout badges in the process.

We purchased our first set of pre-built rockets from the local hobby store a few weeks ago. They’re made by Estes, a long time manufacturer of model rockets. As beginners, I opted for the pre-built kind to get us started quicker, though the salesman at the hobby shop was well versed in the ready made versus need-to-assemble kits. We opted on the Rascal and HiJinks rockets:

As said above, these are low power rockets so there’s no special permission needed by the local authorities to launch them. The general rule is to find a wide open space not near any roads and to launch on a day when the wind is as minimal as possible. That being said, even before building, we’ve been keeping an eye on the launch conditions.
This past weekend, we set out around 8:30am to survey some launch sites around the area. Even before setting out, my son already had a good choice in mind, so we drove out to inspect it. Sure enough, it was right next to the basketball courts we frequent. This seems like a good spot, but I’m taking into consideration the altitude as well. How it will affect the performance of the launch, I’m not entirely sure, but I thought I read something about that somewhere. Here’s the Google Earth satellite view (we are, of course, standing where the blue dot is):
. We definitely want to have great deal of room to compensate for wind drift after the parachute deploys. Getting the rocket stuck in a tall tree would not be a good way to end the launch, LOL. I’ve seen videos of that happening as well as rockets hitting nearby cars, etc. We plan on filming the entire launch (launch prep, ignition, ascent, trajectory, parachute deployment, and touchdown). How we’ll do that will be explained in a future post (I just order something off eBay that will make this pretty simple to do).

We took off to the second area I thought might work, but we found out that it wasn’t as big as I anticipated. Here’s a little video footage of us exiting that site:

I remembered another site (actually my wife reminded of) to check out, so off we went. This one will work equally as well, so we pulled up and got another satellite view, showing us the altitude and geolocation (lat/long) of this site:

Looks like both sites will work equally well, so the next thing to do is set aside a Saturday to get these rockets built. Stay tuned for the next post.

Ad Astra,
Fresh!

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