This Christmas Mark and Jack asked for a rocket. Being unfamiliar with rockets, I had to take John along on this particular shopping excursion. Once in the store, I stood for a while in the rocket isle listening (or pretending to listen) as he rattled off all of the things we needed. He compared this and that, picket them up, read the directions, on and on for 30 minutes until the store manager announced that the store was closing. Finally, being forced to choose, he chose a multi-stage rocket with C class engines. (I know. This means nothing to me either.) The boys, however, were very impressed.
Jack and John carefully assembled the rocket. Jack read the directions and let John know when he was mounting a piece incorrectly or placing something improperly. Only once the assembled rocket was dry was Mark allowed to help. They let him put on the decals. Mark has a curious habit of breaking things, quite by accident, or so he says. After the rocket was complete, decals and all, the excitement for lift off was palpable. John had thought we would have time to launch on Saturday. Our "to do" list however proved to be too long and we soon ran out of day light. Sunday John was determined to launch. We went to the local soccer park after lunch. John brought an assortment of "launch" required items. To me it looked like a battery, some wire and tools. I am sure they all had a purpose, even if I failed to see it.
The launch pad was assembled, The rocket loaded onto the "launch thingy" Once the engine was inserted into the rocket. the wires and ignitor were connected, the count down began.
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,...2,...1, and Nothing. John went over ever piece to make sure the connections were not loose and we tried again. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,..2...1. still nothing. At this point Mark was sent to the truck for tools. The rocket was taken off the launch pad. The ignitor replaced and the wire, I don't know what he did with the wire but it was looked at closely. Again we tried the launch, and Nothing. Eventually I was sent home for materials wire, a pocket knife, a nine-volt battery and meter. Again, I just followed orders having no clue what any of these things were for. Fortunately the kids had the foresight to bring things to do at the park. When I left Jack and Emma were making up their own game of rocket and Mark was juggling a soccer ball.
Once I returned, John tested the battery with the voltage meter. Replaced a few things and got ready for launch. Another, slightly less enthusiastic countdown was started. Again nothing. Now our relatively clear day had turned cloudy, and the wind was picking up. The kids were clearly lost in play, having gotten over the disappointment of a failed launch and I was cold. John however, was not going to give up. He was determined to launch this rocket! So when he said, ready for launch, we all said, "okay, go ahead." No countdown was started. No one was looking. No one thought it would work. When it took off we were all, Surprised. The kids dropped their toys and took off to retrieve the rocket.
They chased the rocket. I looked at the rocket dubiously, as it plummeted to earth. The parachute was not deploying. Par for the course. This day was not going as planned. I was just starting to imagine what I was going to say to the ER doctor when I brought Mark in with a rocket impalement, when the parachute deployed. I took a deep breath and let it out. Just then the wind picked up and the rocket took off propelled by the wind. Mark ran after it, jumped a fence or two while the others gathered up the launch material. I jumped into the car and trying to keep up with the rocket, and Mark. Mark lost sight of the rocket as it dipped down behind a building. And that is the last we saw of it! We searched everywhere, high and low and found no trace of it. For 45 minutes we searched, trees, drainage ditches, bushes, and found no trace of the rocket. The search was abandoned. We all piled into the truck, the disappointment on John's face mirrored in the kid's faces. As we traveled home Mark says, "We didn't even get to deploy the rocket in 2 stages." What? Yes, that is right after all that, they decided to deploy only one stage. Apparently with 2 stages the rocket is supposed to reach a final height of 1800 feet! Not to worry Jack assures me this is still within the troposphere.