The Galileo

This is a small, inexpensive kit from Custom Rockets.  It's the largest rocket I've seen to use Featherweight recovery -- the motor is simply ejected at apogee, and the rocket streamlines to Earth, presumably reaching a terminal velocity too low to cause damage to either the model or objects or people on the ground.

In the case of the Galileo, this works reasonably well; the fins, which are mostly long dowels as on the old Estes Alien Space Probe or Centuri Satellite 62-SL, generate a lot of drag, and the body is a conical shroud of approximately BT-55 rear diameter, yet the completed rocket weighs only about 1/2 ounce without motor.  Unfortunately, it appears the rocket is still on the heavy side for featherweight recovery; in two flights to date, it's broken a fin dowel loose from its brace on one occasion.  This setup, it seems to me, would be much sturdier if the dowels and braces were mounted directly to the motor mount, rather than to the shroud; doing this, combined with slots in the shroud to facilitate mounting it after gluing on the fins, would greatly strengthen this kit and reduce this most likely mode of flight damage.

Other than this minor nit, it's a nice kit; easy to assemble, cheap, and with decent water-transfer decals.  I'll be buying more from Custom in the future.

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