Apogee Aspire Model Rocket Kit


     This was one of the first rockets I ever put together, several years ago back in High School. Luckily, I took plenty of pictures of the build, and documented it quite well. The Apogee Aspire is an absolutely great rocket kit, whether you are a beginner of an experienced high powered enthusiast. The rocket is designed to break the sound barrier with ease, as well as attain an altitude of over 1 mile, given that you are using the proper engine. To buy the kit I went to Apogee Rockets, and ordered up the rocket as well as a 24mm E engine (this was before I made my own engines... well, before I could trust my engines). The Aspire Kit Costs about $20, and the motor only cost a few bucks. The rocket comes with pieces to make a motor adapter, so the rocket can use either 29mm motors, or the smaller 24mm. Within a few days I received the package, and when I say a few, I mean literally 3 days after ordering. Kudos to apogee for their shipping department. When I received the package I opened it up and took a look at all the parts.

Apogee Aspire Rocket Kit Contents

     The Kit comes with two body tubes, a coupler to join the two tubes, a nose cone, a streamer, a nice Kevlar shock cord, high strength fin cutouts, the green retainer rings (which are also used to make the motor adapter), some good decals, and the instructions. In the above picture you can also see the small 24mm motor I purchased along with the rocket.

     From there I opened up the directions, and began assembling the rocket. The First step was to cut out the fins. The wood used to make these fins isn't your cheap Estes grade balsa. As of writing this I forget whether the fins are high grade balsa, or good bass wood, but it sure as heck isn't the cheap stuff. Very stiff, very strong, and the come well cut. All you need to do is to trace the die cuts with an exacto knife, then all the needs to be done is to carefully pop out the fins, making sure they all release without splintering or breaking.

Cutting out the fins                         Fins cut out

     After you have the fins cut out you then have to sand them to get them all completely uniform in size, and to smoothen the surface a bit. I shape them using 120 grit sandpaper, and smooth the faces of the fins with some 400 grit

Sanding the rocket fins

     The next step in the project was to connect the two tubes together. The tubes are a good sturdy cardboard, and they supply a coupler to join the two sections. First, one side of the coupler is lightly smeared with some wood glue, then it is inserted into once section of tubing, until inserted half way. I know what your thinking, "oh crap! he uses that expensive stuff.... 'Premium Wood Glue'."   Haha. Bad joke over. So now the glue is allowed to set for a few minutes.

Rocket tube coupler smeared with glue, ready for insertion                                    Wood glue and tube

So now that the glue has had a few minutes to set and adhere to the coupler & body section, the remaining exposed half of the coupler is lightly smeared in wood glue, and the second section of body tubing is set over that until flush with the other tube.

Body tubes joined with one another

    Now that the tubes are together and the fins are sanded down, the fins are ready for mounting on the rocket body. To attain maximum accuracy the supplied fin mounting jig is taped together, and slid over the body. I then proceeded to mark the spots at which the fins would be mounted, as well as where the launch lug will be attached. The fins will also be mounted 3/4" from the bottom (aft) of the rocket, so that is marked wit the use of my digital caliper (I know, a bit overkill).

Fin jig on rocket                                        Fin placement marked 3/4" from bottom

     Then a small amount of wood glue is applied to the part of the fin that will attach to the body, and it is pressed onto the body lightly for a few minutes until the glue has set somewhat. I made a quick jig out of some scrap wood to hold the rocket vertical while attaching the fins, it made the process much easier.

Glue applied to fin              Fin attached to rocket body

Rocket holding jig

     The next step I took was to put in the motor retaining ring, which was simply smeared with wood glue, and inserted several inches (exact measurement forgotten) into the aft of the rocket body. Then from there I assembled the 24mm motor adapter, which went together quite easily. Again, I went overkill with accuracy, using my digital caliper to measure out things.

24mm Motor Adapter for 29mm Body             Internal View of 24mm Adapter    

24mm motor adapter with motor inserted

The next step is to secure the launch lug to the body, which was quite an easy task.

Launch Lug Attached

     Finally the streamer is attached to the shock cord, and the shock cord is the attached to the nose cone, as well as the body. To make sure the knot holding the nose cone to the shock cord holds, I added a few dabs of superglue to the knot. That way, I never have to worry about the knot coming loose, and destroying a perfectly good rocket.

Nose Cone and Shock Cord Attached

Then the other end of the Kevlar shock cord must be attached to the body itself. Apogee supplies you with a nice cutout which is folded upon the shock cord with liberal dousings of glue. It is then attached several inches deep inside of the forward body tube.

Launch Lug Attached                            Kevlar Shcok Cord Attached

Finally; we have a working model Rocket! Here are a few pictures of the rocket finished before painting.

Finsihed Apogee Aspire Rocket Apogee Aspire Model Rocket Complete

     Update 11/15/09: I painted the rocket about a week back, and decided to do a two-tone dark blue, on the aft, fading to a pumpkin orange up top. Started with a nice layer pf primer, than just finished off with the blue and orange. It was a nice and simple gloss spray paint job, and I really cant complain. Looks good. (at least I think so)

Apogee Aspire Rocket Painted

    Hope you enjoyed. This was a nice fun weekend project that would be perfect for any beginning rocketeers. Since the rocket can accept Estes type motors it is very inexpensive to fly, and since it uses a streamer recovery system, it comes down pretty close to the launchpad, so no mile hikes are needed to recover the rocket. Also, the Apogee Aspire can handle large composite 29mm motors, so this is truly a two for one deal when you buy this excellent kit. On one hand you get a great, inexpensive model rocket, which is cheap to fly and quite fun, and on the other hand you get a high performance 29mm motor consuming, mile high capable supersonic beast. Absolutely the best of both worlds, for only about $20. How can you beat that!?!?!