We Interrupt This Card Game for a Few Rocket Launches.

CardgameDSC_2620There’s lots of downtime at a rocket event. Rockets fly in salvos maybe an hour apart, so there’s plenty of time to sit in the shade and play cards.

WATCHSUN_7603But when the countdown comes over the PA system everyone steps outside to watch. As short as flights may be, it’s exhilarating to hear these vehicles roar out of sight.

The first day of IREC is devoted to “basic” rocket launches, the missiles that only reach about 10,000 feet altitude. Tomorrow is the big ‘uns, the advanced teams whose target altitude is more that double that. The Miners are in the advanced class, and since the firing order is first-come, first-served, they plan to head out to base camp at roughly 6:00 a.m. Hopefully after the scorpions go underground, but well before the temps begin their inevitable climb into the triple digits.

Launch “salvos” are carefully scripted with safety in mind. Up to six teams at a time can mount their rockets to “rails,” fixed towers some 200 yards away from base camp. Once all teams are ready to launch the rail area is evacuated and base camp is locked down so that no one is caught wandering around the desert if a rocket develops a problem. One rocket at a time is given the countdown and then sent skyward with a huge, hissing roar. All eyes are fixed on the missile until it either returns to the ground under parachutes or impacts the ground with a loud “BANG!” that can be heard/felt many hundreds of yards away. A complete flight takes roughly four minutes, so a salvo can last half an hour or more.
BasecampDSC_2601The weather has been perfect for these launches. Not a cloud within 50 miles, a steady breeze, and low humidity. Base camp, well out of range of any cell phone service, is like a gold rush town that springs up overnight and where only one language is spoken. Rockets.


  1. Theresa Bruer says

    Hello Bob,
    I am Kyles mom, we met at the launch. I am so happy you gave me your business card. I have enjoyed your pictures and articles. You should be a journalist!
    Thanks so much for watching over Kyle and the guys plus Jill!
    Take care,