February 2007

ignite1 ignite2

#3 – I will launch my rockets with an electrical launch system and electrical motor igniters.

Note: It is illegal in every state to ignite a model rocket with a fuse.

Sometime in early-mid 1957 both Orville Carlisle and G.H. Stine developed forms of electrical ignition for model rockets. I believe that both were attempting to further separate model rockets from fireworks. Originally the Carlisle model rocket patent, as seen here, used a fuse type ignition. Neither Carlisle or Stine filed for a patent, however there were many earlier patents(see at bottom of article) that hinted at this process. It wasn’t until 1965 that Vernon Estes applied for a patent in which he received, as seen here, in 1968 specifically for model rockets.

Igniters are based on the method of converting electric energy to heat energy by resisting the free flow of electric current. When the electrical current is applied to a metal conductor it encounters resistance. The resistance is then converted to heat. a common ingredient in igniters is nickel-chromium, or as it is better known, nichrome. Nichrome heats up easily but doesn’t melt. The tips of these type of igniter usually contain a Squib. Squibs are materials that ignite and burn.
Copperhead igniters
(from Aerotech) use carbon fibers as did the Quest Tigertails. Estes and Quest now use igniters with propritery formulas for their Squibs. I personally love the new Quest Q2 igniters.

Visit my Igniter Gallery here 

other related patents

Patent Number Title Issue date
1935495 SLOW MATCH COMPOSITION Nov 14, 1933
2437153 (unknown) Mar 2, 1948
2712270 (unknown) (unknown)
3363559 RESISTANCE FUSE WIRE Jan 16, 1968
3422763 ROCKET ENGINE IGNITER Jan 21, 1969
3447416 ELECTRIC INITIATOR Jun 3, 1969
4584925 Underwater rocket launcher and rocket propelled missile Apr 29, 1986
4951570 Electrically activated detonator with pyrotechnic device receiving terminals and method of making Aug 28, 1990


Ok the Brits have definitely taken rocketry to the extreme. This is the story and launch of a car (modified into a shuttle) powered by 6 Contrail hybrid ‘O’ motors. Will it launch? Will it fly?


paul-L2-2-17 Paul’s L2 bird

I had a great time with my friend Paul on Saturday. We went to the R.O.C.C. (Rocketry of Central Carolina) launch near Charlotte, NC. Paul was there to make an attempt at his NAR L2. It was an incredibly cold and windy day. Many brave rocketeers stood out all day in the frigid temperatures for the love of the sport. Paul had a great flight but had some trouble with his pyrogen charges on recovery. His rocket had only the slightest damage and he will probably try again next week. Here is the video

Here is a photo at liftoff. Cool!
paul-L2-2-17liftoff click to enlarge

cherokeedmy Cherokee D

I just finished a fun kit. I have always wanted a Cherokee D. I think I first saw it in an Estes catalog in the early seventies. I loved it’s look but was a little afraid of what a D engine could do to such a small rocket. I had very limited space to launch during my first incarnation as a rocketeer. As a BAR things have changed. I have room to launch at our club launches. I recently went online to Thrustline Aerospace and ordered the Cherokee D cloned kit. Thrustline Aerospace does a great job of keeping this kit just like the original balsa version that was around from 1971-1974. Estes changed the kit to having a plastic nose cone during it’s 1975-1983 production. Thrustline also made a few improvements to the original kit. They include kevlar to attach to the engine mount and then to the elastic cord. The original used the rubber shock cord to the estes body tab connection. The balsa was all of high quality and the fins were laser cut. You can obtain the decals from Excelsior Rocketry.

Here are some details:
Astron Cherokee D 1971-1974 (original with balsa nose)
Cherokee D 1975-1983 (plastic nose cone)

21.6 inches long
1.325 dia
2.75 oz.

Plans are available at JIM Z
Review on EMRR

How about an upscale? The Cherokee M



Another entry into the “Who the heck is…” series 

Frank Joseph Malina was born on October 2nd, 1912 in Brenham, Texas. In 1935 Malina became a student at the California Institute of Technology. In 1936 he became director of the GALCIT Rocket Research Project. Malina developed the theory of constant-thrust long-duration solid-fuel rocket motors in 1940. Under Malina’s guidance his team developed hydrazine-nitric acid fuel which was used much later as the fuel for the Apollo sevice module and LEM. In 1945 Malina did extensive research into jet-propelled missles. The results of his research was the design and construction of America’s first successfull high altitude sounding rocket, the WAC Corporal. The site of Frank Malina’s research later became known as The Jet Propulsion Labratory in which he was director between 1944-1946.

Frank Malina was also an accomplished artist

Here are some great WAC Corporal Rocket Models
Thrust Aerospace(scroll down page)

progress click to enlarge

As a rocketeer this is a winter scene of beauty. This is a picture of the Progress 24 rocket on Jan.16th 2007. The rocket launched on Jan. 18th taking supplies to the International Space Station’s Expedition 14 crew.


Added some items to the site today.

In the Copter Guide

In the Ultimate Paper Rocket Guide

  • Enhanced Minotaur
  • Pegusus by Orbital
  • Flyable Dutch rocket called A8-3 Raket
  • Horton HO XIIIb


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