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Rocket fans

from Vanamonde #621 (2005)

While innocently doing something else at Santa Fe Dam park, Irwindale, I heard whooshing. When occasion served I went to see. The Southern California Rocket Association was holding its twice-monthly controlled and supervised public launch. There were not quite a million, of every shape and size, but there were lots, and the rocketeers were various too. Model rockets under National Association of Rocketry rules can have gross launching mass up to 1.5 kilograms, solid propellant at launch up to 125 g, up to three consecutively fired stages; re-usable, "provided with a means for retarding its descent to the ground so that its structure may not be substantially damaged, and so that no hazard is created", and airframe of wood, paper, rubber, plastic; beyond that is high-power rocketry, with Federal Aviation Administration clearance; but that's plenty. The Saugus High School rocket club was working on the Team America Rocketry Challenge, this year to get exactly 60 seconds in the air including descent so much concerned with breezes and parachutes. I asked "Why are the fins swept forward?" They said "That way they don't break when the booster lands, and besides, it looks cool."