Santa Claus brought my fourth grader the Astra III Model Rocket starter set for Christmas. She’s been waiting patiently for the snow to be off the ground and the weather to be warm enough to use it. We finally got the rocket built and ready to launch and spent the day saying “three, two, one, blast off!”
This post contains affiliate links, for your convenience.
First, I need to admit that I am a novice at model rockets. I’ve never used one and before this experience with my daughter, I’ve never understood more than the basics of how they worked. Things I learned: Did you know that the rocket “motor” has two chambers, one that burns out the bottom of the rocket and one that propels the nose cone so that the parachute properly deploys? Did you know that the wrong type of “motor” will make the rocket launch oddly (to say the least), but the right kind of “motor” will send the rocket soaring through the air? Did you know that if the parachute isn’t folded just so it doesn’t deploy the way it’s supposed to?
I was glad my husband was guiding us through our rocket experience. I’m not sure what would have happened without his expert knowledge.
We were fortunate enough to be using the Astra III Model Rocket Starter Kit. From a novice perspective, this kit a fantastic. It includes every major part of what is needed to launch a rocket – motors, launch pad, electronic ignitor, recovery wadding, and parachute equipped rocket. Additional items needed for a successful blast off, but not included, are modeling glue and one 9-volt battery.
The kit does not come fully assembled, which means that we needed to spend an hour or so assembling the rocket and launch pad the day before we wanted to use it. The rocket and launch pad assembled easily. After everything was dry the next day – it was time to fly.
Model rockets are not toys, however, and proper safety measures need to be followed when using them. That’s why I really liked the key that came with the electric ignitor. The ignitor won’t work if the key isn’t inserted, and the ignitor buzzes so that everyone knows it is armed and ready to fire the rocket. It had a 15 ft. length of wire, so we could stand well away from the rocket when it was time to launch. Also, the kit recommends close adult supervision during the use of the rocket – and I second that recommendation. Rocket “motors” are made with real rocket fuel. I’m not saying bad things will happen if children use the rockets unsupervised, I’m just say that the lack of supervision could lead to bad things happening.
We loved this experience. We had purchased a few extra “motors” so we could spend the better part of a Saturday launching rockets. Everyone really enjoyed watching the rockets take off – except for my toddler. She didn’t like the sound the rockets made once they were ignited. It was a lot of fun to watch everyone get excited as we counted down from 5 or 10 (depending on how patient we were all feeling). And it was fabulous to see the wonderment on my children’s faces as the rocket flew into the sky.
There really was something amazing about watching a miniature rocket (about 2 feet long) blast up into the sky—fast enough that a camera could not follow it, and high enough that it was hard to see it. It calls to mind the excitement of the space race, and the mystery of space itself. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce topics such as thrust, gravity, propulsion, and resistance to all ages of children.
This was such a great gift that the whole family has been able to enjoy together. So, my public thanks to Santa Claus – for knowing what my daughter really wanted for Christmas, and bringing something we could all enjoy and get excited about. Thank you, Santa Claus. Oh, and next year, just bring the “motors” – lots and lots of them.