Building your model rocket

Here, I will share with you my experience building the Estes Fire Streak. Construction was simple, and the design elegant. The final product was nice looking, sturdy, and with its bright paint and decals and dual metallic streamers, gave a great show during launch and recovery. See how I built the Estes Fire Streak.

Gear to take to the launch site

After you have finished building or assembling your rocket. You are just about ready to take it out for its first launch. First, you need to gather all your gear before you head for the launch field. I carry all my launch gear in a big yellow toolbox. The kind you find at your local hardware store. Some launch sets like the Quest Big Rage Deluxe come in a cardboard box that can double as a gear box. Here is a list of essential items to take:

  • Your rocket
  • Launch pad complete with safety cap, rod and blast plate
  • Launch controller with fresh batteries
  • Rocket engines
  • Igniters/Starters
  • Recovery wadding

As you get more serious about your launches, you'll probably take more rockets. You might find it helpful to take a few tools and quick repair parts with you too.

Picking a launch site

Now you are all packed and ready to go. The next step is choosing a good place for your launch. The best launch sites are wide open areas away from trees, power lines, buildings, and other obstructions. Football fields, parks, and playgrounds make pretty good launch sites. Be sure your the site you choose is free from dry grass, leaves, or any other highly flammable materials. As a general rule of thumb, your launch field should be at least as wide as 1/4th of the expected altitude of the rocket. For example if your rocket will fly up to 1000 feet, your launch field should be at least 250 feet in diameter. If the field is square, it should be at least 250 feet on the shortest side.

Rocket preflight preparation

When you get to your chosen launch site, setup your launch pad, and follow this simple sequence to prepare your rocket for flight:

  1. Insert recovery wadding into the rocket(refer to the instructions for the correct amount).
  2. Fold and insert the parachute or streamer and replace the nose cone.
  3. Install an igniter into the engine.
  4. Secure the igniter with a plug.
  5. Insert the engine into the rocket's engine mount.

Launching your rocket

Every launch must be performed using a launch pad and an electronic launch controller. The rod on a launch pad helps the model rocket remain stable during the first crucial moments after liftoff and assures the rocket will safely climb straight up into the air.

  1. Place the rocket on the launch pad.
  2. Attach the launch controller clips to the igniter.
  3. Be sure everyone is away from the rocket and ready for launch.
  4. Stand back and insert the safety key into the launch controller.
  5. Announce your countdown... 5,4,3,2,1, and press the launch button!

Model rocket flight profile

When the launch button is pushed, the electrically ignited rocket engine produces thrust that provides liftoff. The rocket accelerates into the sky. After the propellant is used up, a delay is activated allowing the rocket to coast. Smoke is emitted for tracking. As the rocket reaches its peak altitude, an ejection charge is activated, deploying the recovery system. The rocket returns safely to earth. CONGRATULATIONS! You've completed your first successful launch. 

Estes Model Rocket Engines

These are the famous model rocket engines that made model rocketry the safe hobby it is today. They incorporate a safe, intelligent design, manufactured under precise and strict engineering tolerances. Estes model rocket engines have been proven consistent and reliable in more than 300,000,000 launches. They are the key to the outstanding safety record model rocketry has achieved over the past 40 years.

AeroTech Model Rocket Engines

AeroTech Composite Rocket Motors are the most technically advanced hobby motors in the world. These motors use the same solid propelant as America's space shuttle boosters. Pound for pound, this propellant delivers nearly three times the power of black powder model rocket motors, allowing you to fly larger rockets, heavier payloads, and achieve higher altitudes than ever before.

Propellant Types Rocket engines come in many different propellant types each with its own special characteristics:

  • Black Powder (B) Produces a slim white smoke trail and a sharp swish sound. This is the propellant that made model rocketry safe and fun for today's rocketeers.
  • White Lightning (W) A brilliant white flame, dense bright white exhaust and a throaty roar are the hallmarks of this popular propellant.
  • Blue Thunder (T) Produces a bright violet-blue flame with a minimum of exhaust smoke. These motors provide a higher level of thrust than White Lightning or Black Jack motors of the same total impulse.
  • Black Jack (J) Provides the high visibility tracking of dense black exhaust. In addition to a distinctive lift off roar, these motors give your models lower acceleration and longer powered flight than White Lightning or Blue Thunder motors of the same total impulse.
  • Black Max (FJ) Provides the high visibility tracking of dense black exhaust. In addition to a distinctive lift off roar, these motors provide slightly higher acceleration than White Lightning propellant.
  • Redline (R) Unique liftoff characteristics for larger aireframes and performance oriented flyers. The proprietary AeroTech formulation provides Redline with it's signature scarlet flame.