Saturday, July 16, 2011

Festival of rocketry

4 rockets
The Festival of Rocketry is an international rocketry event organised and run by the United Kingdom Rocketry Association to encourage and promote the hobbies of model, high power and amateur rocketry. The event runs for three days and is open to those who want to launch model and high power rockets.
Which is why I spent a bit of Friday afternoon in a remote field somewhere near to Kineton chatting to a man in a tent. You see, when they say 3 days, what they mean is 1 day of setting up followed by 2 days of whoosh.

So I didn't get to see anything fly but I did have an interesting time. Luckily I have a bit of history in rocket building, years ago I built and Estes kit for a Space Shuttle. It flew around 30 feet in the air, which wasn't high enough for the opening parachute to be any use. After 2 flights, my shuttle went the way of the real thing.

What became quickly clear on seeing the beasts on show before most of the flyer's turned up was that my efforts were very much the baby slopes end of the hobby. These beasts would make the buyers from Ann Summers eyes water !

In the photo the tallest grey rocket is around 5 feet high. It has two stages and is made of cardboard. Yes, the stuff you pack posters in. Well, a sort of high-tech super cardboard that is mega strong. The fins are plastic as is the nose cone.

The engine for the red beast lying down costs £120. It's a solid fuel motor and will accelerate the rocket to 600mph and up to a ceiling of 7000 feet - the maximum allowed at this event. In the unlikely event you are a railway modeller reading this then that's a good toy train going up in smoke EVERY TIME YOU PRESS THE BUTTON. As the man who built it said, "You don't fire it very often." He's not kidding !

Yet, this isn't the top end of the hobby. At least one American rocketeer claims to have put a rocket into space and even in the UK, there will be an event next week with a max ceiling over twice the one available here. Amazingly, these rockets are retrieved and fired again, something NASA could do to take a look at. Many incorporate radio location devices and radar thingies (sorry, I got a bit lost at this point in the explanation) to prove the height attained.

While I might not have seen a launch, I did have a very interesting half hour thanks to a group of enthusiasts who weren't just happy to talk about their hobby, the positively revelled in it. Quite frankly if you want to get kids interested in science, give these blokes some cash and get them into schools.

Anyway, you have two days to go so go and have a look at the website.

Apollo Windsock

1 comment:

neil whitehead said...

Some of these have video cameras attached so that you can experience the wonders of rocket flight.