A complicated Estes 2-stage payload rocket.
The booster consists of:
The sustainer consists of:
The Echostar is the most complicated rocket I have ever built. I worked on it for about 3-4 hours per day and it took me three days to finish. The four sets of fins were a real pain. I really wish I had CA when I was building it. Two of the fin sets had slots for mounting which made the job a bit easier but it was still a lot of work. Getting the fins out of the balsa sheets was a pain as well. I broke two when trying to get them out but thankfully they weren't too hard to fix. Using a hobby knife is definitely advised. Make sure you have enough glue on the fins, as I lost one on my second launch. The rest of the construction is pretty straightforward. I found the coupler between the booster and the sustainer was a bit too long and held the two stages together too tightly so I left about a quarter inch on and trimmed off the rest. Use your own judgement when doing this.
I found that sanding the fins before putting them on the rocket would have been a major help, as after they were on the rocket, it sure was a pain. Decals come with the kit but I found mine were not the stickiest ones I have ever used. If you are good at painting your rockets I would suggest leaving them off entirely.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
The motors are held in by friction fitting and wrapping the masking tape around the motors in a screw pattern and then twisting them in to make a good fit. A C6-0 is used in the booster where as you can use any motor for the upper stage. I have used As and Bs in the sustainer and they both work well. The Echostar I built tended to go off at a 45 degree angle after leaving the guide rod, but after that it flew straight as an arrow. I think this is because it wasn't going fast enough when it left the rod and accelerated to a stable speed after leaving the rod.
I found that the parachute that Estes supplies is good for the Echostar and it came down in a reasonable amount of time. Make sure to paint the booster a bright, shiny color or put reflective tape on it because I found that it can be hard to spot when it is coming down.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
I feel that after finishing and launching the Echostar, building a level three rocket was a rewarding experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the build and it was quite fun having the only two-stage rocket at the launch.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5