Estes - Echostar {Kit} (2176) [2001-2003]

Contributed by Wade DePalma

Construction Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Diameter: 1.33 inches
Length: 29.00 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 3
Style: Multi-Stage

This is a medium sized rocket from Estes which I bought because I thought it looked really cool. It is my first multi-staged rocket and I'm happy that it had a payload section to go alone with that. The Echostar uses an 18mm motor mount and an 18in parachute.

The rocket uses typical Estes components although there is no motor hook. Its main body tube and booster tube are BT-55s. Its upper body tube is a BT-50J and has a clear payload section with the same width. The fins are made from balsa wood cutouts. Only the fins along on the sustainer section are able to be punched through the tube. All the other parts are in typical Estes condition which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing in my opinion.

PROs: The directions are easy to follow and the rocket is probably better of as for Skill Level 2 construction. The parts were all in decent condition and no tools out of the ordinary were needed. The only tools really needed were wood glue, plastic cement, a hobby knife, sandpaper, and maybe wax paper. Other than that, construction was a pain.

Cons: Estes has once again provided me with the fun of their paper 3-fold shock cord mount. Because of that stupid mount on most of their rockets, I have developed a phobia of shock cords. Well, sort of. There were these little tabs on the sustainer fins meant to go into the body tube. I managed to break every tab while cutting out these fins from their balsa sheet. Fortunately it only required a little bit of glue to get them back on. I'm not too crazy about having to glue balsa sections to each other to complete the sustainer fins. I'm sure there was an easier solution. I get nervous to think that there is no motor hook and only a small thrust ring. I have a feeling that within a few launches, an engine will go flying through the tube due to a weakened ring. The directions constantly had me smearing rings of glue around the inside of the tubes. I found this to be potentially inaccurate but I managed. I think that the parachute may be too big for the rocket. It really won't matter in single stage flights but when the rocket soars to its highest altitude, I don't think it'll be coming back too close. Since the rocket has 3 sets of fins, it is hard to get them all perfectly aligned. Just some patience and effort can fix that problem.

I believe that the only good paint scheme to this rocket is the one shown in the catalog. I think that it was easier to paint the individual parts before construction. Since I chose the conventional paint scheme instead of the "wild" one, there was only one decal needed. Estes supplied more decals for the "wild" scheme but I decided not to use those. Once the decals were on, the rocket looked great.

Construction Rating: 2 out of 5

I have flown it only once on a single-stage B6-4. I was still kind of nervous about the possibility of a weak thrust ring but there was nothing I could've done at that point. The rocket did make it off the pad and flew straight up for about 400ft or so.

At apogee, the payload section fell off and one of the upper fins was snapped off. The payload section landed a few feet from the rest of the rocket but I never found the fin. It's easy to repair. I think that the payload section just needed a little more tape around it to hold better. Next launch will probably be better.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Once this rocket was finished, it was my best looking rocket (until I discovered Aerotech). The problem was just getting it to be finished. Keeping this rocket from having problems during flight just requires it to be strong and durable. I would suggest this rocket to anyone who enjoys challenging but not complicated construction. I think that it's a great first multi-stage rocket.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5


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