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The Amazing World of Rocketry

arizonaflagrocket.jpgGrowing up in the 50s, I was enamored with rockets—space rockets. Rocketing off to other worlds was a dream that many youngsters had because of our super-hero comic books.

Some of them came from distant galaxies (who knows why) to settle on Earth, only to discover something about the place gave them super powers. In the mind of a young kid, rockets and space ships were the means to get to these strange places the comic book writers drew in detail.

Science fiction books used space travel to add adventure to their stories. The authors used brilliantly expressive words allowing us to draw mind pictures of these far-off places. The graphic details were incredible, describing the colors, textures, and inhabitants.

Today, we still only reach other worlds in our imaginations (or pictures from satellites), but we can participate in the fascinating world of rocketry like the people in this story.

Rocket Clubs

Rocket clubs are found the world over, with many active groups in the USA. They gather to launch rockets into near space, activating the imagination of a future of space travel. The older, more experienced teach the young or the novice. Imagine the thrill of firing off a rocket 12 feet in length to a altitude of a mile and a half.

This is rocket science
“Launching in 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1,” an announcer drawls as the next rocket is readied.

Gerald Meux Jr., 21, of Phoenix, pushes the button on a wireless controller and up goes an 11-foot, 8-inch-tall model of a Nike Smoke, painted like the Arizona flag.

“That went halfway to heaven, and it’s still going,” says John Sitarz of Phoenix, a fellow rocket enthusiast, shading his eyes with his hand. In reality, it flew 7,094 feet high, not quite a mile and a half.

“That’s why you get to wear the shirt!” Jim Hussey shouts at Meux.

White T-shirts identify these members of Hillbilly Rocketry, the name referencing the beat-up pickup truck, owned by co-founder Bob Heninger, that is used to haul model rockets.

“Somebody told us that we look like a bunch of hillbillies in it,” Heninger says of how the group got its name. The bumper sticker on the truck reads: “My wife loves me for the size of my rocket.”

So what does this have to do with space ships and strange new worlds? Everything. It keeps the hope alive that one day (soon) we will have the capability to board a rocket ship heading to a permanent settlement on Mars, or Saturn. The dream is alive.

Here is a video of a 16 foot rocket being fired by the Hillbilly Rocketry club from the story. Remember, these amazing rockets are the result of amateur hobbyists using their nights and weekends to build and launch these incredible machines.

Dreams can still come true, even if the scale is slightly smaller.

Until the future … fuel up!

Imagine, with me, the possibilities.