Rockets 101

As a kid, I’d often see the adds for those neat little Estes rockets in all the comics and wonder what they really looked like and what kind of flight these ‘toys’ were capable of. Living in the inner city, I never came across these kits in stores and never saw anyone else flying one, so it was just one of those thoughts that went on the back burner of life and would have faded into obscurity.

I’m not sure how I even found it, but one day I came across an Internet site for a seemingly active local rocket club, the Ottawa Rocketry Group (ORG) and noted that not only did they meet every second weekend (weather permitting of course), but their launch range was mere minutes from my home. I bookmarked the link, and made it a point to get out there one day. If nothing else, I hoped to at least see a few rockets go up one day.

Peace, Love and Rockets
As is often the case, I did not follow up with the club for a long time. But all that changed one day and the catalyst came under the weirdest of guises; a seminar at the 2008 Ottawa Linux Symposium (OLS). Among the myriad of technical discussion among the panels that week, one that caught my eye was entitled “Peace, Love and Rockets” presented by Bdale Garbee. The presentation basically described Bdale’s work on creating a fully open source, (software and hardware) platform for a rocket altimeter payload. As fascinating as the technical details of the platform was, the real an eye opener for me was the tangential details about the hobby rocketry itself. I promised myself that I would follow up on that ORG site and get myself down for a launch.

The ORG
I met up with the Ottawa Rocketry Group one Sunday just prior to them going on to their range. I was immediately impressed by some of the more sizable rockets they launched. While the majority of rockets on hand were what are considered low power, I could see how quickly someone would want to progress with the larger models. After seeing a few rockets that first day, I knew that I would be back soon with my own to fly. The ORG,like most other clubs, is open to everyone, encourages neophytes and all the members are eager to share information and guidance. As is the case of other hobbies these days, there are many web sites as well with just about all the information you will need to understand, build and fly rockets. Most metropolitan areas have at least one hobby shop where you will be able to buy some of the smaller ready-to-build kits, Estes being the most prevalent manufacturer for first time builders.

My next rocket blog will describe my first rockets and how my first launch day progressed.

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