It's no secret among the Space.com team that I like rockets. Crewed rockets, space shuttles, rockets that land themselves, they're all pretty awesome. That interest was launched (so to speak) as a kid when launched a lot of model rockets myself as a parent of a 12-year-old, I've been looking to share the experience that with my daughter.
Part of the reason is the discount: Both model rocket kits are on sale for Amazon Prime Day, with the Nike-X rocket available for $14.99 (32% off), while the MAV is $12.99, a 35% savings. However, today is also the last day of school for my daughter, so we're going to need some things to do this summer and launching model rockets is both thrilling and something you can do and still maintain social distancing with any friends joining her crew.
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Estes Nike-X |
$21.99 $14.99 at Amazon (save $7)
Recreate this historic ballistic rocket through a mini-launch experience. In just four to six hours, you can assemble the Nike-X for a launch that will bring your rocket up to 900 feet (275 meters). Make sure to gather your engines and launch materials, sold separately.
Estes currently has four good kits on sale for Prime Day for between 25% and 42% off. I picked the MAV for my daughter because it's relatively easy to assemble, comes pre-printed with decals and has some wild Mars lander fins that I know she'll enjoy. It's part of Estes' Destination Mars line, which offers a series of Mars-inspired rockets to fly.
The Nike-X set is more advanced and will require sanding, painting and fin alignment, so that was my pick. And it comes with some military history to boot: the Nike-X was a single-stage solid-fueled surface-to-air missile used in the 1960s. Estes makes a wide range of scale model rockets, including a stunning Saturn V Skylab rocket, which is 20% off at $75.27 (down from $94.40). It's not a Prime Day deal, but worth looking at though only a few are available.
Estes Space Corps Centurion Launch Set | $
49.99 $28.99 at Amazon
Save 42% ($21): This beginner's model rocket will easily help you soar up to 700 feet (213 meters). Once you use the recommended launch system and engines (sold separately), it should just take you a few minutes to put this rocket together and to safely launch it.
If you're just getting started in model rocketry, you will need a launchpad, along with igniter starters and a controller. This Prime Day, Estes has a major sale on its Space Corps Centurion Launch Set, which includes the launchpad, controller and a sleek nearly ready-to-fly rocket for beginners. It's available for $28.99, down from $49.99, which the biggest sale on this set I've ever seen.
Once you have a launchpad, you'll need to make sure to check your rocket's specifications for the types of motors it needs. Estes has different sizes to power a range of rockets, but the most common model rockets need an A, B or C motor. You'll also need igniter starters for each launch and wadding to protect your parachute, so you may want to stock up on those supplies if you're planning multiple launches in a single outing.
Finally, you will need a large, flat area from which to launch your model rockets. We use a high school sports field, but any place with wide-open spaces and few trees can work.
Be sure to check the weather! Just like a real-life launch, windy or rainy weather can ruin your launch day for sure.
Email Tariq Malik at email@example.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.