Something completely different this time on DSO. Gary introduces you to the world of high power rocketry. It’s not your typical outdoor activity but it’s definitely done in the outdoors and involves chasing these rockets across the countryside. Here’s a write up about the event:
They came. They camped. They blasted off. They are members of a small but passionate group of rocketry enthusiasts. About 50 members of the NB Rocketry Club and other groups from the region, along with a handful of spectators, spent two days recently under 25,000 feet of open sky on a hill top in the middle of Base Gagetown. This was the Rage in the Gage Rocket Launch held annually on the Labour Day Weekend.
Tom Raithby of Willow Grove is one of the organizers of the event. He says this is the biggest launch of high power rockets they have every year. To fire off these bigger rockets they need permission to use the airspace and the operators must be certified. These rockets are not toys even though these enthusiasts are all amateurs and hobbyists. For them building and launching rockets is what the hobby is all about.
You may be familiar with the model rockets that kids build and launch, sometimes in school or Scout programs. These things are impressive and can go as high as a thousand feet. There were plenty of model rockets at Rage in the Gage but this was really a vehicle for the big boys to show off their work. High power rockets come in various sizes and with different engines but they’re capable of reaching altitudes of 10,000 ft. or more and velocities in the supersonic range. Many of these rockets have complicated electronics in them that transmit the altitude, speed and location of the rocket. This is essential to find them because the rockets employ a parachute to gently bring them back to earth and sometimes the rockets can land far from the launch site.
“I really like that I can send something that high and I can build it myself and I can get it back without breaking it,” says Raithby. “It’s really satisfying to send something up against the elements and bring it back unbroken.”
Of course some times accidents happen and rockets crash but that’s all part of the hobby. With all rocketry you’re dealing with explosives and sharing air space with planes so safety during the launch and decent is the most important thing. All rockets must be inspected before launch and the range is tightly controlled by the launch director during any flight.
Greg Gollan from Windsor, Nova Scotia has one of the largest rockets this year at Gagetown. His rocket called Dragon Farts is 9 feet long and weights 37 pounds. It has five motors on it with a combined burn time of 9.5 seconds that can produce 1,125 pounds of thrust. It can reach an altitude of 7,000 feet and best of all, the rocket has an onboard video camera to record the whole flight. Gollan says he built the rocket for 3 or 4 hundred dollars and he has about $300 of electronics on it. He says the propellants to launch the rocket cost about $400 every flight and it takes about five hours to prepare the rocket for launch. “It’s awesome….what a rush,” says Gollan after the successful first launch of Dragon Farts at Rage in the Gage.