WIRED: "Pyro Geek Hobbyists"

My buddy Erik took this photo as Rockets Magazine was interviewing me before my L3 launch. (video montage... the pad camera footage at the end is awesome!)

 

The other WIRED reporters just published their fun story in the November issue, with the loving heading: "Pyro Geek Hobbyists Experiment With Homebrew Rockets."

 

The opening photo is of my night rocket on a sparky motor (I think it looked better the next night, flying a green gorilla from Animal Motor Works)

 

Midway through the article, they describe this Level 3 Certification flight. A selection:

 

"In the bleak, seemingly lifeless terrain, the dozen or so RVs and tents look like a moon base. At the center of the camp is the Rocket Mavericks trailer. A supersize satellite dish positioned to pick up a GPS signal looms overhead. Inside the trailer are a 24-megabit satcom unit able to pump out live webcasts, a pair of Wi-Fi systems that can light 4 square miles of playa, and a Silicon Graphics workstation. Two men sweat in the cramped, un-air-conditioned space as they wrench on a black rocket 7 1/2 feet long that looks like a scaled-down cross between a '60s-vintage X-15 rocket plane and a surface-to-air missile.

 

Jurvetson is ready to assemble his motor…. Then he screws everything together and walks his rocket out to the launchpad. There he discovers a problem: He can't switch on one of the two onboard flight computers—essentially a microcontroller that serves as an altimeter and orchestrates engine stages and parachute deployment. After a quick-and-dirty fix with superglue and a soldering iron, the rocket is ready for liftoff. Jurvetson lets his son press the red button. The launch is perfect. Five seconds into the flight, as the rocket carves into the clouds, his son asks plaintively, "Can I let go now?"” – WIRED

 

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Taken on July 20, 2008