Local

March 22, 2013

Rocketry Club ready for blastoff this weekend

On March 23 and 24, hundreds of rockets will soar into the sky at Desert Heat 2013 in Tucson. Rocket enthusiasts from around the Southwest will gather for the 7th Annual Winter Rocket Launch of the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association (SARA).

This entertainment is not just for rocketeers. Spectators and students will experience watching homemade rockets reach the speed of sound as they soar skyward. The Arizona Rocketry Team will be launching two projects. A 9-foot tall 16-inch diameter upscale Estes Mosquito and a 35-foot tall 6 in diameter upscale Estes Mean Machine!

The Desert Heat 2013 range will open at 9 a.m. each day. Rockets are typically launched every few minutes, until about 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free, and youth under 18 years old can launch rockets at no charge. A highlight of the two-day “fun-fly” will be a night launch on Saturday from dusk to 9 p.m. “If you’ve never been to a night launch, it’s very exciting to watch,” said Eric Burch of SARA. “In a daytime launch, you see mainly smoke, but at night you’ll see flames coming out of the rockets in a variety of colors.

A favorite children’s event will be a mass launch of 50 tetrahedron rockets, to be held on Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. The kids can retrieve the rockets to turn them in for prizes.

This is the largest launch in Southern Arizona, and airspace will be cleared by the FAA as high as 6,500 feet above the launch field for the rockets. “We want to put Tucson on the map when it comes to rocketry, because we have some of the best weather and wide-open space available” Burch said.

The Rocketry Club is expecting hundreds of rocketeers, their families, vendors and observers from the Southwestern United States to attend the launch, and expects nearly 1,000 rockets to be flown. The rockets can be as simple or as complicated as you want, although all rockets must pass a safety check before they are flown. Some of the rockets are basic models made by youngsters trying their first flight. Others are more than 10 feet tall and fly to up to 6,500 feet.

All rockets are designed and built to remain intact, deploy a parachute to float to the ground, then be recovered and reused. Some even carry high-tech equipment, including GPS and radio tracking transmitters.

The launch site is at 3250 N. Reservation Road, between Manville Road and Mile Wide Road where the Tucson International Modelplex Park Association flies remote-controlled airplanes. Ramadas, restrooms and a parking area are available, and rocketry and food vendors will be at the site throughout the event.

For best viewing, bring a lawn chair. Since there is limited shade at the launch site, bring a hat and sunscreen. Please leave pets at home.

Take your favorite route to Saguaro National Park West or Old Tucson, and then follow the signs to the launch!

GPS coordinates are +32° 15’ 53.06”, -111° 16’ 25.90.




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(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

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