Thinking of Getting a Model Rocket


When I was a kid I remember building and launching a couple of model rockets with my little brother.  So now 25 years later I think my two girls might have fun doing it.  Something with a camera would be pretty cool.  They were out of our price range back in the 80’s and were only used by those 50 year old men that lived and breathed the hobby. 

Apollo V
Might be a little outta my price range.
Anyone into launching model rockets? I’m going to start googling but if you know of the perfect site let me know. I don’t want to end up like the video above.

4 thoughts on “Thinking of Getting a Model Rocket

  1. Club launches can definitely be very cool. We arrived at our first with 5 rockets, all in a small cardboard box. The man who parked and set up next to us was considerably more into it. I watched him prep an electronics package and a reloadable motor, and then put them into a 7′(ish), 6″ diameter rocket. He launched it with a serious roar from one of the away pads, and it disappeared. The guy then put on some headphones and picked up an antennae, and commenced tracking. Maybe twenty seconds later, I saw a white object, slowly spinning as it hurtled back to earth. When it was 600′ above ground level, the rocket deployed its main parachute and slowly drifted to the ground about 200′ from his work table. Reported altitude that he downloaded to his laptop? I was hooked when he told me 9,300′!

    Lots of good people with good advice, and maybe even some competition if you’re inclined.

    If Huntsville isn’t too far away, I highly suggest a visit to Marshall Space Flight Center. We went to Johnson Space Center last spring and really enjoyed it.

    Micheal’s (if you have those) also has a 50% off coupon, which can help with building and finishing materials.

    I timidly put the URL to my fledgling rocketry site in link field for this post. It’s basically just an index page at the moment (I’m no code monkey – takes me forever!), but is a start.

    Have Fun!

  2. Thanks for all the info Hal. I will have to check out all of the linkage. I never even thought of a local rocket club. Very suprised there are 4 in the state, although Huntsville makes sense :)

    I’m in Alabama and we do have a Hobby Lobby. In fact my wife was just there yesterday picking up graphite for our pine car derby coming up.

    $16 is too great of a deal to pass up. I think my kids will enjoy it. I would love for them to get interested in science and space like their daddy.

    I like that you and your daugther can share the hobby and have fun together.

  3. Hey Matt!

    I stumbled down another interweb rabbit hole, and fell out into your blog. I’ve rediscovered rocketry after 33 years, and I have to say that I am definitely hooked! I’ve a nine year old daughter who states that she will be the first female to set foot on Mars. Building and flying model rockets dovetails in nicely with this aspiration. Some people may just slap some glue on the parts and go push the button to launch. For us, it involves mathematics, physics, chemistry, aerodynamics, engineering, and even the weather. Building rockets also teaches patience and hones fine motor skills. You won’t find this at most elementary schools, and surely not at this level!

    Not knowing your locale, I’ll throw out a concept anyway. In the Texas neck of the woods is a retailer, Hobby Lobby. They occasionally have a 40% off coupon for any one item. This allows one to purchase an Estes Alpha III starter kit, with everything needed but glue and 4 AA batteries to make two launches, for just over $16 out the door. A coupon-less purchase can be made of this kit for $25-30 at numerous locations. This can be a low cost way to see if this is a hobby your family will want to pursue. This is also an economical way to buy the Estes motors.

    I noticed that you have Apogee Components marked as a Fav. The owner, Tim Van Milligan, and his staff are top notch when it comes to service. His site is also a font of rocketry info (check his YouTube how-to videos). Although I’ve promoted the coupon angle above, I also believe in supporting those that drive the hobby. Apogee Components would be one of those vendors. Another to check out is Art Applewhite Rockets ( He has a different take on the scene. He designs rockets that are not the normal three fins and a nose cone (3FNC Rockets). Look for downloads that you can print and build in a short time on his “Free Stuff” page.

    Look for a local launch club or group in your area. These are a great source of info and camaraderie. See the NAR site for info on these (

    I was overwhelmed when I first did a search for “model rockets” after returning to the fold. I now have way too many bookmarked. Here are some more to check out:

    – That’s probably a good place to give it a rest. I’ve way more than that, just deeper and more specific. If you’re really into it, shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll tell you the lowest priced, to your door, Estes motors in the country. I even had a vendor tell me it beats his cost. I hope that you can find something useful in all of this, and that you and yours enjoy this hobby. It gives my daughter and I something that we can go out and do on a whim, and talk about at anytime.

    1. Meh. In all of my rambling, I omitted two important things:
      1) The Astra in the video is under powered. The addition of the camera to the airframe puts it way off the charts for the A8-3 engine the video claims he is using. There are many different simulating softwares out there to run sims and check this with. Several good free offerings, and RockSim, from Apogee Components, which most people will tell you is definitely worth the cost.

      2) There are several cameras on the market for rocketry. Being the geek-type (said with love) that you are, you might enjoy this a bit more:


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