Featured Rocket Launches

Because high-power rocketry can only be done in the middle of nowhere, rocket launches become large, well-organized affairs. And because there are only a few a year in any area, they attract many people and become a way for rocketeers to meet each other. I've attended many launches, but for a few special ones, I put together a story and pictures.

LDRS 17 "LDRS" is the largest high-power rocket launch, held by the Tripoli Rocketry Association. This is the big launch of the year.

I didn't bring any rockets to LDRS 17, so I hung out with Darrell Mobly at the Rocketry Online booth. I also got to wander around and talk to people I'd met at other launches and people I'd corresponded with. Not having to prepare your rockets sure gives you time to check out other people's work and chat with them.

Balls '98 "Balls" (or FireBalls) is held once a year at Black Rock, Nevada. This launch features experimental rocketry (non-commercial motors) and large rockets.

The main attraction for me at Balls '98 was launching the Big Kahuna. This rocket was a monster to manage all the way through the project, and launching it was no exception. In the end we didn't manage it, but I have a good story and lots of good pictures.

ARLISS '99 Some members of AERO-PAC, organized by Tom Rouse, worked with Professor Bob Twiggs of Stanford to build rockets to launch student satellites from amateur rockets at the Black Rock Desert, the ARLISS project.

The launch was held on September 11, 1999 after much planning. Two teams from Japan, a team from Arizona and a team from Redwood City, CA each built three "can sats" and the ARLISS team provided four rockets to launch them. I helped out here and there with construction, but mostly I took pictures.

Churchill Range Tom Rouse, Dave Hall, Tom Tessier and myself went out Churchill, Manitoba to scout out the Candadian Space Agency launch site there. We were toying with the idea of CATS prize attempt for late November 1999 and were working out the details of our application for a launch permit at this Canadian site.

While we never did launch there, I took pictures of the very interesting and historic Churchill Range.

Balls '99 At Balls '99 we finally launched the Big Kahuna. After all the glitches the prior year at Balls '98, the launch went smoothly this time!

A new launcher was built by Jim Sekol and myself from square steel tubing, and this allowed is to get this huge bird aloft.

Again, some brave souls from work came out to see the Big Kahuna finally fly and this time it really did!

Turkey Shoot 2000 At Turkey Shoot 2000 AeroTech demonstrated the final formulation of its new Redline propellant by a static burn of a 4-grain 98mm Redline motor. This will be a very cool motor once released (hopefully in time for the 2001 flying season).

Also at the launch was the second half of the NFPA sparky motor testing conducted by Bruce Kelly. This resulted in many flights of Kosdon East Skidmark motors with titanium flakes. (The burning titanium produces the sparky effect of the old Silver Streak motors.)

Moon Race 2001 Several us from AERO-PAC decided we need to do something spectacular for LDRS XX, held at ROC in Southern California. We hit on the idea of a 1:16th scale recreation of the 1960s moon race between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

In the event, the team building the corresponding Saturn V never got their project together, be those of us building the Soviet N1 did, and you can see the info on the Moon Race 2001 site.

Xalapa, Mexico 2001 Gustavo PiƱero has become the AeroTech dealer for Latin America and operates from his home in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. He has also become an avid rocketry hobbyist and held a launch in October 2001 in Xalapa.

Gustavo and I have corresponded over the time he's been involved in rocketry and I decided to come down for a vacation (to a part of Mexico I'd never been) and a launch. My father also came along and we had a great time. Thanks Gustavo!