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.

Comments (3)
  1. Troy Stanton says:

    MDRA lauches literally thousands of rockets each year, 99% are successful flights. There is a launch each month, come on out and see what everyone is flying.

  2. Tom Hier says:

    We fly from Estes size rockets to very large projects. We have Estes rockets for to loan for kids to fly to get the thrill of flying rocket. Check out our site MDrocketry dot org for launch information. We are now flying at the Central sod farm just past the Rt 50-301 split on the Eastern shore for the summer.

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