Rockets

I have been promising for a very, very long time to put pictures of some of my rockets online.  Here, then, they are.  I've selected pink as the background color for this page because it's my favorite color for painting rockets--it's very easy to see them up in the air or on the ground that way. :)

All of these rockets were designed and built by me (I like designing my own and building from scratch, rather than building kits).  The "normal" rockets are made of cardboard body tubes, plastic, balsa, or basswood nosecones, and (usually) balsa fins; in generally the idea is to keep them as light as possible, which improves performance and makes them safer if anything goes wrong.  The gliders are made mostly of balsa, sometimes covered by Japanese tissue, but they go up into the air attached to a pod made from a rocket body tube and nosecone.

Here are two of the first rockets I designed, one called "Pretty Boy" that I made to show off (actually the very first of my own design), and my first experiment with a two-stage rocket--that is, it launches on one engine, then lights another one after the first is burned out--you can see two sets of fins, with the first set falling away with the first ("booster") engine as the second engine ignites.

Click here to see pictures of Pretty Boy launching.
 

The rest of the rockets on this page are what's referred to as "boost-gliders"--they boost up attached to a rocket pod, and then the pod separates and comes down by itself, while the glider part glides down.  Personally, I think it's incredibly cool to use a rocket engine to put a little glider into the air.  These first two are gliders designed for competition--the idea is to get the longest flight possible.  Both of these gliders are orange on top, which makes them easy to see on the ground, and red on bottom, which makes them easy to see in the air.  The one on the left, is my first boost-glider of my own design, Orange Crushed.  It drifted away over some woods about a year and a half ago.  The one on the right is Paulina, which I still have, but this one can't fly again because the engines it used aren't made anymore (plus, I want to build Paulina II, with some new design features to improve performance).  If you look closely you'll see Paulina's wings are curved ("cambered"), to improve lift.  The balsa has actually been warped to accomplish that, and is held in shape by little rods made of carbon fiber (very high-tech, huh?).  You can see a little wad of off-white paper (or possibly a little piece of balsa) stuck between the fuselage and the rear surface of the horizontal stabilizer--moving that around lets me change the angle of the stabilizer by moving the rear edge up and down, thereby trimming the glider for the best possible flight.



Finally, we have a really tiny little glider designed to use a special small engine--note its size compared to the white plastic clothespin on which it's resting in the picture on the right.  As you can read on the wing, the name of this one is "Hazel Hope"--a good name, but I can't take credit for it. :)  This one also has cambered wings, though they're much harder to see because of the small size.  Both Hazel Hope and Paulina, above, are "canard" designs (called the French word for "duck", I think, because they vaguely resemble ducks when viewed from above), with the horizontal stabilizer ("canard") in front and the main wing in back, which is the opposite of a conventional glider.  This layout makes it easier to balance the glider properly without adding a lot of nose weight, and therefore in theory should make it fly a little better because it's lighter.