This is how play dates can take form in the Malcolm house: Eavesdropping on Will's phone conversation was the first I knew about Sunday's plans. “Yeah, sure we can pick you up in an hour. We can take you home too. I’m launching around 11:30. Oh, and I’ll have a couple other friends coming over to watch too.”
This was a rocket scientist taking the bull by the horns. Picture NASA announcing a test launch and welcoming visitors. Then sending a limo to pick them up.
And on this particular Sunday morning, I loved it. All was good.
I, the Limo Driver & Lunch Chef, was ready.
Bill, the Co-Launcher, was also ready.
Liam, the Crowd Manager & Entertainer, was smiling and ready.
Will, Mercury-Redstone Designer & Co-Launcher, was more than ready.
Now, post-launch, I reflect on lessons learned, as any scientist or scientist’s mother would.
To brush up on history… Mercury-Redstone got its start as a kind of ballistic missile and was redesigned to point toward space. And to carry a chimpanzee/human pod on top of it. Chimpanzee Ham flew on Mercury-Redstone 2 prior to Alan Shepard flying on Mercury-Redstone 3. On May 5, 1961, Shepard was the first American to take a short 15-minute space flight.
Here’s Will’s version of the Mercury-Redstone on display in the Space Studio (aka: in the storage room on my freezer.)
Never tell a boy that painted toilet paper tubes can’t fly.
New to this model was the engine housing. Co-designed by Will and his dad.
And another view. If you look closely at these two photos, you may recognize the housing as a recycled Keurig K-Cup.
Never tell a grown man that K-Cups can’t fly.
Trajectory. A great mathematic phenomena. The guys worked hard to get the rocket as straight as possible, 90 degrees relative to the bumpy ground. A slight deviation off 90 degrees on the ground grows exponentially as the rocket soars.
These rocket scientists reminded me of pro-golfers and their contortions on the green as they look for the best path to tap the ball into the hole.
Trajectory. Fin structure. Engine position. Aero-dynamic construction. Ignition. All variables in how the pencil flies once the engines are fired. Whoa! (No picture here: I decided to watch this one live, rather than through a camera lens.) This rocket left a jet stream behind it as it soared straight up. Then straight west. Before it landed.
Rescue and recovery was a success! (Because the building was short, scale-able, and relatively flat.)