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Do-It-Yourself Rocket Scientists Launch Their Creations

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hobbies have a way of grabbing hold, but spending thousands of dollars only to see a project blow up is a special calling.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s all part of being a do-it-yourself rocket scientist.

The launch pad was a Delaware farm field. The rocket was a 20-foot tall scale model of a Saturn “B” rocket.  That’s still smaller than scale model Saturn V Steve Eves of Ohio built and launched in 2009. That’s the world’s largest home-built rocket.

Eves built it as a tribute to the Apollo astronauts who rode the real thing to the moon.

His Saturn V flew fine, but his Saturn “B” malfunctioned during separation of the first and second stages.

“There’s an old saying with a rocket: either you’re having a problem, you had a problem or you’re going to have a problem,” said Neil McGilvray, Maryland-Delaware Rocket Association.

The Maryland-Delaware Rocket Association supported not only that launch, but also hosted a second Saturn “B” built by another Midwest hobbiest. On this one, timing was off on the rocket’s motors.

“That caused the rocket to virtually shred into a million pieces, and we had two big chunks falling out of the sky,” said McGilvray.

It’s expensive debris.  A rocket this size can cost $16,000. Still the builder’s wife was very supportive.

“And said I want you to build another one. So he’ll be back in another year or so,” said McGilvray.

Because the large rockets can reach almost a mile in altitude, the FAA closes air space to aircraft in the launch area.

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