A group of calgarians launched a homemade rocket ship in southern Alberta to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The rocket was a 1:20 scale model of Saturn V.
A homemade rocket burst into space in southern Alberta to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission when the first man set foot on the moon.
Kronos E, a 1:20 scale replica of Saturn V, launched from Florida on July 16, 1989, transports the first three people to the moon, was built by a group of Calgary and took flights near Lethbridge on Saturday.
While it was not a giant leap for humanity, it was an important step for rocketeers in Canada. The six-meter-long, 90-kilogram rocket is the largest model rocket ever pushed into the atmosphere of Canadian history.
"It was really rewarding," said Shane Weatherill, who spent 18 months assembling the rocket with three other calgaries. "It was very nice to see it fly and really cool to see all the people out to see it and enjoy it."
People stood at least 500 meters from the rocket to see it launch.
Weatherill said they went through a 10-count countdown process and hit the button to start starting. Despite a few seconds, Kronos E finally delayed action.
A blazing pink fire was seen shortly before a giant column of smoke was seen high in the sky. About an hour and a half the rocket successfully flew about 2,440 meters into the sky before the rocket's multiple sections drifted back to Earth by parachute.
Weatherill first started flying model rockets as a young teenager and has been working on high-powered rockets for the past two decades.
"I really like to build something that works," he said. "You build this unit that is completely functional as a real rocket would be, and in fact other than size, there is not much difference between the rockets we build and some of the rockets that have been used for science."
He said Saturn V is considered the flagship rocket and, while replicated in the United States, he has never seen it on Canadian ground.
"It was an absolute monster of a rocket," said Weatherill.
"If you look at pictures of it, it is very much, there is a small cone. The little wife was where the three astronauts were. Almost the rest of the monstrous vehicle was fuel and it was something that really hit me, at least when we built. "
The Rockether, along with other flyers John Glasswick, Ian Stephens and David Buhler, built the Saturn V mockup in Buhlers Garage in Beddington Heights.
After a year and a half they transported parts of the giant roof in three vehicles to the launch site where they gathered it with a battery of avionics, computers, recycling systems and five solid fuel wires that packed enough power to hoist an adult man 2,500 meters in the sky.
However, in accordance with Canadian law, the rocket level was launched with no payload on board.
Weatherill said one of the most rewarding aspects of the launch is how much attention it has received outside of the rocket community, which includes about 200 active flyers across the country.
He is optimistic, the wide spectrum will attract new hobbyists.
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is Saturday, July 20.
Here is a graphical News Infographic showing how the real Saturn V rocket held the astronauts to the moon back in 1969 (click on the image to enlarge):