What Equipment Do You Need to Launch a Model Rocket?
February 18, 2019
When you see the advertisements for model rockets, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you need to buy launch equipment as well. In fact, terms like “ready to fly rockets” and “almost ready to fly rockets” are actually quite misleading, because you can’t fly them unless you also purchase a launch system and some consumables.
That, of course, can lead to a lot of disappointment on a Birthday or at Christmas and it’s a common mistake that many people make. The extra equipment and the consumables needed to launch a model rocket are not excessively expensive, but it is frustrating if you didn’t know that you needed them.
So, if you are thinking of buying someone a model rocket kit for a gift, here are the additional pieces of equipment and consumables that they will need to be able to fly their rocket and that are not usually included as a part of a standard kit.
The launch pad is a part of what is known as the launch system and it is a relatively simple piece of equipment that provides a stable base from which to launch a model rocket. A launch pad will cost you in the region of $15-$20 and it is reusable.
The launch controller is the other element of what is known as the launch system and it is a small, hand-held electronic device that heats up the rocket igniter which, in turn, ignites the rocket engine. Launch controllers cost in the region of $20.
You will usually have to purchase the engines, or motors, for you model rocket separately too. Rocket engines come in a large variety of different sizes, so it is important that you check what type of engine is recommended for the rocket that you have bought. Rocket engines vary in price, but most start at around $10 for a pack of three.
Rocket igniters, which are sometimes called rocket starters, are what are used to ignite the rocket engine. These are consumables, so they are not usually included with a model rocket kit. A packet of 6 Estes rocket starters will cost approximately $5.
Recovery wadding is another consumable that you will need to launch a model rocket. Recovery wadding is made of a flame retardant material and it is used to protect the recovery system, which is usually a parachute, from the heat of the ejection charge. Recovery wadding is an essential consumable, but it only costs about $5.
Modelling supplies and tools
Depending on the type of model rocket that you buy, you may need some sundry modelling supplies, such as sandpaper, wood glue and plastic cement, as well as some basic modelling tools.
Model rocket kits are classified by skill levels; ready to fly, almost ready to fly, easy to assemble, and skill levels 1 through 5.
Ready to fly models need virtually no assembly and no additional modelling supplies will be needed. A level 5 model rocket, on the other hand, could take months to construct and you would need tools, paint, and other consumables to complete the project.