Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Breaking news from the rocket vendors! (Part 1)

One of the special events associated with NARCON and NARAM is the manufacturer's forum, where the rocketry vendors gather to announce new products and give us rocketeers a preview of things to come. I am very enthusiastic about this forum, because it provides things to look forward to - and also gives me an idea of how many frozen meals I am going to be eating in order to save up bucks for the cool stuff. It is amazing how many times you hear "OMG, I am going to be so broke" at the close of the manufacturer's forum; I know I say it almost every time.

Because of CoVID-19, NARAM went virtual this year, and so did the events associated with it - the NAR board meeting, the manufacturer's forum, and the NARA town hall. I registered for the latter two as they are 2 hours long, but the 8 hour board meeting is a bit beyond my endurance. The NAR town hall is tomorrow evening and the manufacturer's forum was last night, starting at 7 PM Central Time. I can truly say that all 115 attendees signed off pretty stoked from the pitches of the 11 vendors present.

Ed LaCroix and Peter Alway (Click to enlarge).
The first vendor up was Peter Alway, of "Rockets of the World" fame. Peter publishes these wonderful books with scale drawings and pictures of historical rockets that the scale modelers swear by. His latest publication is "Sixteen Rockets of the Spaceflight Dreamers" which gives specs on concepts envisioned by early rocket pioneers like Oberth, Goddard, Tsiolkovsky and Winkler. This pretty cool booklet is available directly from Peter, eRockets, and Aerospace Specialty Products.

Next up was Andy Jackson of Aerospace Specialty Products. ASP is noted for its competition and scale kits, and Andy showed off their latest releases - a 24mm powered model of the Indonesian RX-250-LPN sounding rocket, and Micromaxx scale models of the Hawk anti-aircraft missile and the Jayhawk drone. Micromaxx is very popular with those rocketeers who have just the backyard available, and these scale models are pretty sharp. Andy also expounded a bit on the "1000 uses of mylar tape", which ASP also sells.

Bill Stine and Ellis Langford (in mask). Look at all those goodies! (Click to enlarge)
Third on the agenda was the "big E" - Estes Industries. Bill Stine gave the pitch, with owner Ellis Langford helping to show the models. And oh my goodness, did they show some stuff! There is a new video rocket, called the Astrocam that is a Target exclusive, and should be showing up in stores any day now. Also appearing soon are a rocket plane style model named Centurion and a flying dude in a jet pack. But what really had us salivating were the offerings coming out in fall/winter - redesigned solar ignitors that should really cut down on misfires, a Skylab Saturn V and one of the most wished-for bring backs ever - a 24mm powered Saturn 1B! (I am gonna be so broke at Christmas). Sometime in early 2021, Estes is also planning to produce a 1/200th scale model of the SLS (I flew a prototype a year ago), an upscale Mars Snooper (major happy dance) and a 3" upscale version of Der Red Max (the original Mega Red Max was 4" in diameter). E12 and 29mm E and F motors should soon be available in abundance, as Estes has built a new machine to produce these puppies.

Bill and Ellis show off the package art for the upcoming Saturn 1B (Click to enlarge).
There were also a lot of questions about a couple of SpaceX models in the background (see photo) - all Bill would say is that they are discussing things.

Tim Van Milligan of Apogee - the new Flamethrower is at left, behind the T-LOC (Click to enlarge).
Tim Van Milligan, the owner of Apogee Components, always seems to follow Estes in these events - I'm not sure whether that is a good or bad thing. He showed off the Dynastar Flamethrower I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and unveiled a new mid power rocket - the Amerok (?), a BT-80 based, 29 mm powered bird. Tim also previewed a gorgeous X-15 model that may make an appearance down the road. Cool things are happening at Apogee!

North Coast Rocketry was #5. Matt Steele started off with the recently released F-117 Nighthawk boost glider (absolutely gorgeous!) and talked about a near term release called the Vectra, a 29 mm rocket with a missile like appearance. At some point in the future, North Coast may release a model of the Argo Javelin, but Matt warned it would be fairly pricey due to all the custom 3D printed parts. However, if you have some spare cash I do recommend you purchase his Airfoil Assistants, which make sanding the leading and trailing edges of fins much easier - They are hot sellers!

(To be continued...)

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