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An Introduction to Model Rocketry Part 3: Launching Rockets

This is of course the fun part! While I thoroughly enjoy the arts and crafts feel of making rockets there is nothing that compares to getting them out into an open field and launching them off! For all launching you should always follow all National Association of Rocketry (NAR) safety codes.


Find a Safe Launch Field

This is important! A safe field is necessary because you are using pyrotechnics and a rocket is a missile that travels at high speed. Estes recommends you find a field of at least 500 feet with no dry weeds or brown grass. The large field is important too because you will want to follow and recover your rocket! Football fields and playgrounds are great for this. You should also launch when there is little or no wind and good visibility.

Installing the Engine

engine igniter and plug

Now it's time to get the rocket ready for flight by prepping the engine. You do this by inserting the igniter into the engine. This igniter works by electricity from the hand-held launch controller. When you press the button on the controller electricity passes through the igniter and it heats up to the point of fire. This fire will ignite the solid fuel inside the engine. (Think of the igniter as a filament inside a lightbulb). This picture shows the engine, the igniter and the igniter plug that you use for this step of the process.

The Engine is Prepped

This picture shows the igniter and plug in place and ready to be installed into the rocket. Your rocket kit comes with complete instructions on how to do this.


Engine installed

Now you install the engine into the rocket then place the rocket onto the launching pad by threading it onto the guide bar.


connect the launch control wires

Now you connect the wires from the launch controller to the igniter and you are ready to go! Unwind the controller and stand back!


Launch controller

You are ready to stand back and fire off your rocket!

Remember: This is just a guide to give you an idea about what it takes to make and launch model rockets. You must follow all guidelines that come with your rocket, your rocket engines and your controller! You must also follow all safety requirements as laid out by the NAR.

Where do you go from here?

Get your first kit and have some fun!!

The whole field of model rocketry is very wide open and once you have begun you can take many avenues including designing and building your own rocket designs from scratch and building multi-stage rockets that will soar to tremendous heights. You can also get all kinds of special rockets like ones with cameras or even digital video cameras right on board.

When You are Ready to move up to the bigger rockets

Once you have gained some expertise and experience with the traditional rockets you might want to think about moving into what is called Mid-Level Rocketry. These are more serious rockets and they usually stand three feet or more in heights. And they can reach heights of up to 4,000 feet. This is a very substantial improvement.

One of the top companies in this level of model rockets is called Aerotech. You can read more about them and their rockets on my page here: Aerotech Rockets