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My Journey Into Mid Power Model Rockets Part One

Article by Paul Nortness

Model rocketry is typically divided into several categories based on motor size. Low power rocketry is "D" and smaller, while mid power indicates motors size "E" through "G". High power rocketry is considered anything "H" and above. Low power is the most popular category, simply for its accessibility and relative low cost.

For the last 50 years, Estes has held the crown of King of Low Power. They pioneered the hobby and are the leading name in model rocketry. I have been launching low power rockets on and off since I was a kid and I've been feeling the itch to try some of the bigger composite mid power rockets.

When Estes announced their entry into mid power last year I was ecstatic. Partnering with Aerotech Consumer Aerospace, Estes launched their Pro Series II line this spring. The Pro Series motors are rebadged Aerotech motors, while the new kits for the Pro Series was designed by Estes. With the Pro Series, I am taking my first steps into mid power rocketry. I feel as though I am learning rocketry for the first time, so much new stuff! In a series of articles, I will chronicle my journey into mid power rocketry.

The first thing I needed to do was purchase a rocket. Estes released four new mid power kits with the Pro Series, and I chose the "Ventris". It has a skinny bottom section with a transition to a larger payload bay in the nose section. I chose the Ventris because it is the smaller of the four so higher flights will be possible and I will also be able to use smaller motors on it as well.

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The kit comes in the traditional Estes packaging, the carded clear bag. While unpacking the contents, I couldn't help but notice how much heavier duty everything feels over it's low power counterparts. The body tubes are visibly thicker and heavier. The fins and centering rings are made out of plywood. Gone are the metal hook for motor retention, you have a threaded ring that you glue to the end of the motor mount and then screw on the cap to secure the motor. The shock cord is huge!

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The Ventris incorporates "through the tube" fin mounting. This helps give the fin more strength at the root. The fin has a tab along the root edge. This tab slides into a slot on the body tube and attaches onto the side of the motor mount while the root edge attaches to the body tube as normal. The result is a very strong join that is hard to break. A few of Estes low power kits use this feature, but this is the first time I will be using it so I am looking forward to learning this new technique.

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One of the coolest things I found was the upgraded parachute. Instead of the plastic material found in low power rockets, Estes provides a big 24 inch rip stop nylon parachute. The shroud lines are thick heavy duty nylon cord. This is a hefty parachute! The only downside is the inability to cut a slip hole in the center.

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As I mentioned before, this rocket has a completely different method of motor retention that I have never seen before. Instead of using the tried and true hook, you get this plastic threaded ring. It fits onto the end of the motor mount tube and then has a cap that screws down onto the ring so the motor cannot slide out of the back of the rocket. I noticed the kit was missing the thrust block that normally gets glued inside the mount tube. Upon reading the instructions, I found that mid power rockets do not use the thrust block. The motor case has a little "lip" along the end of the rocket which prevents it from moving forward.

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I have to say, I am very impressed with the Estes Pro Series. The quality of parts is exactly what you expect from Estes, the instructions are clear and easy to comprehend. The Ventris looks to be a rather easy build that plays to the strengths of someone who has been involved in rocketry for awhile but is making that first step into mid power. I am really looking forward to taking those steps. In my next installment, I will delve into the contruction of the Ventris and select my first mid power motor!

Stay tuned

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