Isaac turned 9 yesterday and Ily and I got him an Estes model rocket. It came in a nice kit that included the launchpad, launch controller, two engines, and the rocket was pre-assembled. Here are some pictures that Micah took of it:

We had it all ready to launch by the the time the rain stopped in the afternoon, so we walked down to the neighborhood park, gathering a crowd of 5 or so onlookers as we went (we’d have had a whole lot more if it hadn’t just been raining). Here’s Ily’s expert video of the maiden launch:

It was so awesome. A perfect launch and recovery. There were satisfying scorch marks on the launch pad, and the rain soaked grass under the launch pad was steaming. I quickly went home to get more wadding (the one thing we forgot) and we set up another launch with the second engine. By then some more people had come walking by, so we invited them to watch, and launched it again, with Micah on the ignition this time. Just like the first launch, the engine hissed, smoke billowed, and the rocket shot into the air. People cheered, and it landed in almost exactly the same place, 50 yards or so to the northwest of the launch point. The box said the rocket would fly about 600 feet in elevation. Everybody agreed it had gone at least that high.

Finished with the two B6-4 engines that came with the kit, but thinking that after two perfect launches and recoveries, one more would finish off the day nicely, I broke out one of the extra engines that I grabbed when I bought the kit. It was a C6-5 engine, which I later learned has twice the total power of a B class engine. I had an inkling as we set things up that since the little engine had twice as much propellant in it as the first engines, that this launch might be a little different.

We set up in the same place as the first two launches, counted down, and Isaac hit the button. Again, smoke billowed, and the rocket hissed into the air. This time it rocketed way, way higher than before. It completely disappeared from sight and we wondered if we wouldd see it again. Finally we saw the rocket drifting down, parachute deployed, heading to the northwest as before. I stood frozen in awe of how high it had gone, and glad that we could see it again. Most of us did the same, but one of our spectators started to say something that woke me from my revelry. It was something like, “you better run and see where that’s gonna land!” Sure enough, it was coming down way outside the boundaries of the park. Too late, the kids started to run towards it. I remained rooted in place from shock and denial. It was all futile. Nobody could tell exactly where it landed. It looked like it was somewhere in the neighborhood, northwest of the park.

We wandered all through the streets looking in front yards, peeking over fences into backyards, examining trees and rooftops, but saw no sign of our intrepid rocket. We thought about knocking on doors to get into the backyards we couldn’t see into, but we didn’t know where to begin. When we got home I made a quick craigslist posting, probably in vain, and I think we are going to post some fliers around, but maybe that wasn’t really our rocket that we saw coming down in the distance. It was a bittersweet day, but I sensed that the kids felt the same way as me. Losing the rocket was sad, but the sheer awesomeness of the three launches was just about worth it.


Melinda September 6, 2009 at 9:41 p.m.

Happy Birthday Isaac!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We liked watching your rocket. Super fun. Jason especially loved the movie and watched it about 10 times in a row. He really wants one for his birthday now too. I hope you find it!

Rachel September 6, 2009 at 11:58 p.m.

You should totally post fliers! Somebody most likely is going to find it and have no clue what to do with it!

That was a super cool movie. Tomorrow I will have to show my boys, and they'll be super jealous.

Julie September 7, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

Happy Birthday Isaac! That sounded like an awesome rocket hopefully you find it! Andy watched the movie about 10 times too and wants one for his birthday too. ; )

Gretchen September 13, 2009 at 7:22 p.m.

Sounds like that 3rd engine was finally big enough!