Estes Nova Payloader

Estes - Nova Payloader {Kit} (1960) [2001-2004]

Contributed by Jon Revelle

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Manufacturer: Estes
(OOP) Estes Nova Payloader

Single staged 3FNC Payload rocket with nice fin design. This kit has been recently discontinued by Estes.

The Nova Payloader was originally introduced in 1986 as a Skill Level 2 (and in my opinion, it should stay a Skill Level 2 because of the fins). It was then discontinued the first time, 10 years later at the end of 1996. It remained absent for a few years until sometime in the early 2000s where it reappeared as a skill level 1. During it's second coming, Estes released the Super Nova Payloader, a larger, more powerful version. But unfortunately, both were dropped from Estes' lineup at the end of 2004. At the writing of this review, there are probably a few left at some hobby shops, so grab them while you can if you want one.

The rocket came in a typical plastic bag with a paper face-card and contained:

  • 1 BT-50 Body Tube
  • 1 Payload Tube equivalent to a BT-50
  • 1 Sheet of Balsa
  • 1 18mm Engine Mount for BT-50 Body Tubes
  • 1 Launch Lug
  • 1 PNC-50 Nose Cone
  • 1 Cardboard Ring
  • 2 Transitions
  • 1 Sheet of Decals

The instructions were very easy to follow and this is a pretty simple build. I had almost no problems assembling the rocket. The only challenging part was gluing the 2 fin pieces together. It would've been a lot easier if Estes had made the fins one piece.

I went with the stock look, red body tube and fins and white nose cone. The decals were peel n' stick and went on nicely.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

My Nova has only flown once. I flew it at NIRA's August 2005 club launch and it flew very nicely on an A8-3. The Nova Payloader uses about 4-5 sheets of recovery wadding and can handle just about any 18mm motor. Just be sure to use a short delay when carrying a payload.

The Nova uses a usual Estes 12" parachute and elastic shock cord which brings it down at a normal speed. The 4-5 sheets of wadding work well and there was no wear or burning.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a pretty decent little rocket. It's really nothing special, but would be perfect for night launches.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Estes Nova Payloader By Jon Revelle

    Brief: A great level 1 3FNC with a clear payload tube & a rather aggressive looking fin design. It can be quickly assembled & finished in only a couple of days. It is also very easy to get it to look just like the picture on the packaging. Construction: I picked this rocket up at a local crafts store. Regular price was ~$15 which seemed awfully high for a rocket with ...

  • Estes Nova Payloader By Doyle Tatum

    Notes: I built this model for club contest and left it unpainted (I used magic markers instead) for that reason. I followed the instructions except for the following comments and suggestions: Step 1. Added Kevlar Cord to engine mount, that reaches to the top of the body tube. Step 2. No Change. Step 3. Used five-minute epoxy to connect fin pieces. When dry, I filled cracks with ...


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