Stephen goes by Steve. He is a rocketeer. He makes rockets that go 40,000 feet in the air, for fun, like guys who make cars that go 250 miles an hour for a quarter of a mile. I met Steve in the desert outside Bend near a “town” called Brothers. There were a couple of hundred rocket guys out there, all part of Oregon Rocketry. Several rockets an hour blasted off, some only going a few hundred feet and some going miles in the air. After the flight the crew who put the rocket up follow a beacon to retrieve it. Most of the rockets have homemade fuel, many have homemade motors. Steve’s rocket here, which flew today–although I was not present today–was to ascend to around 34,000′.
Steve saw our family pull up with our two year in tow and he made us right at home, giving us a radio feed to the announcer (including countdowns for every rocket), told us when we had to move away from the parking/viewing area to a place further away for a really big rocket–on O class. Rockets motors get exponentially bigger with each letter in the alphabet. B twice as big as A, etc. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, a 5Z motor would power the space shuttle…if we had one (grrhhh).
Although this photo, and the idea of rocketry, may conjure up (other) testosterone laden images, Steve and his rocketry buddies don’t come off that way at all. They are, I gotta say it, down to earth, engineer types and all very friendly. I am sure ego come in to it, but I didn’t get deep enough to see it.
Specs on Steve’s rocket (forgive the likely errors, Steve):
Performance Rocketry Mongoose Assembled Rocket
98mm motor, N
Fuel is SOS, Steve’s Orange Sunset 45% N 1675
This is the rocket’s third flight. Previous flights to 42,000′ and 33.500′.
I love it that there are communities of people hanging out, doing something they love for no other apparent reason. Steve said he loses time out at Brothers. It felt like he was squeezing the life out of every moment that he was there.