Build and Launch Your First Model Rocket

  1. Get a Michaels’ coupon either from a Sunday newspaper or search online. Michaels store accepts coupons printed from Internet.
  2. Go to a local Michaels Store and buy the following items:
    • 2.1. a model rocket from ESTES (I bought “Chrome Domes” and “Metalizer”, make sure the launch altitude is less than 700 ft unless you are willing to go to a rural area to launch your rocket);
    • 2.2. a bag of recovery wadding (they look like toilet paper but do NOT use toilet paper instead);
    • 2.3. a tube of plastic cement (you can use other glues if they are stronger);
    • 2.4. a pack of motors that your model rocket requires (I bought B6-4 and a pack contains three engines with igniters. My rocket needs one engine for each launch. So, I can launch three times).
  3. Follow the instruction to assemble the rocket. You might need additional tools: sand paper, scissors, masking tape. When you put the fin onto the rocket tube, make sure that the lug (the part glued onto the body) is aligned between two fins (see video
  4. Do not put the engines on to the rocket unless you are at the launch site.
  5. LUNAR makes the launch of model rockets available at Moffett Field (on Highway 101). It happens every third Saturday morning until 1 p.m (For July 2009, see my note below). Before you go, check the website ( and make sure it is not rescheduled since this may happen. Also, print the access procedure ( and bring with you to the launch site. The cost is $10 per family plus 25 cents for each launch. Upon your arrival at the gate at Moffett Field, show your driver’s license to the guard and tell him that that you have a model rocket in your car and then follow the designed path to the launch site. It is near the air traffic control tower.
  6. Don’t forget to bring snacks, drinking water, camera, folding chairs, umbrella, sunglasses, and sun blocks. Also, bring the assembling kits as you might need to do some quick fix. The rockets are reusable. Enjoy!
  7. There are two museums here too: Moffett Field Historical Society Museum and NASA Ames Exploration Center. The exploration center is free. Nearby is a gift shop. Everything is tax free in the shop. At the next highway exit, there is a Computer History Museum. The admission is free too.
  8. There are many readings on the internet on model rockets. Just google key words: build model rocket.
  9. To celebrate the 40 anniversary of Lunar landing of Apollo Program, NASA Ames will hold several activities on Sunday, July 19, 2009. The model rocket launch date is also changed from Saturday, July 18 to Sunday, July 19. This is a one-time change.

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7 Responses to “Build and Launch Your First Model Rocket”

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