Sunward Aerospace Mini Moondance

Sunward Aerospace - Mini Moondance {Kit}

Contributed by Duane Boldt

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Sunward Aerospace
Sunward Mini Moondance

The Sunward Mini Moondance is an easy to build Level 1 rocket kit. It has four bat wing shaped fins and uses streamer recovery. It flies high and straight.

The kit contains the following:

  • 1 - 8" Body tube
  • 1 - Plastic nose cone
  • 2 - Engine centering rings
  • 1 - Engine thrust ring
  • 1 - Engine tube
  • 1 - Metal Engine hook
  • 1 - Sheet of decals
  • 1 - Launch lug
  • 1 - Rubber band shock cord
  • 4 - Laser cut balsa wood fins

Sunward Mini Moondance - PartsThe instructions were very easy to follow. They came printed, two-sided on two 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper. There were three pages of instructions and the last page had the warranty and safety code information. The assembly order was logical.

I only deviated from the included instructions in using Kevlar® cord attached to round elastic cord in place of the "rubber band" elastic cord.

I attached the Kevlar® to the motor mount as shown in the pictures. I then tied the Kevlar® to the round elastic band, trimmed the ends and applied a small amount of Tight Bond II glue to the knot. The round elastic was then attached to the nose cone.Sunward Mini Moondance - Kevlar Cord

The bat shaped, laser cut fins are cut well and the quality is pretty good, except for the fins being on the thin side. They were about 1/16" thick. If building this kit with kids, it would be good to stress being careful not to break them when sanding and finishing. Though they were thin, they were quite straight and not warped at all.

I used an Estes tube marking guide to mark the tube for the four fins. The rest of the construction involved gluing in the motor mount, gluing the fins on, attaching the elastic to the nose cone, taping on the streamer and gluing the launch lug to one of the fin joints.

Sunward Mini Moondance - FinsSunward Mini Moondance - Ready for Paint

Sunward Mini Moondance - Recovery SetupI would have given the Construction 5 points if the fins were just a bit thicker and Kevlar® had been included for a shock cord. I am just not a fan of the rubber band shock cords. However, I'm sure they would have worked fine on this rocket, especially because of the light weight.

The picture in the package showed a purple rocket with black fins. Because the decal was purple I decided to paint the body tube yellow and the fins and nose cone gloss black.

At first I was wary of the decals that came in one large sheet and had to be cut out. But after cutting them out and applying them, I am pretty impressed. The quality is actually quite good. the decals have even stood up great after several launches.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Sunward Mini Moondance - PrimerSunward Mini Moondance - PaintSunward Mini Moondance - Black PaintSunward Mini Moondance - Decals

I flew the rocket for three flights to prepare this review.

Estes motors, wadding and igniters were used for all three flights.

The retention was provided by the metal engine hook included with he kit.Sunward Mini Moondance - Launch Day!

We flew on A8-3, B6-4 and C6-5 motors. each time, the rocket had a very straight up flight, even in slight winds. I was quite surprised how high it went on the A8-3 motor. The B6-4 was so high we were grateful just to get it back. The rocket kept landing so close to the pad that we decided to send it up on the C6-5. The C6-5 flight was too high for us to see where the ejection took place.

PROS: Included components are fine and would have been easy to assemble. The substitute Kevlar®/elastic cord I used worked great. Recovery actually went quite well with the included 38" streamer.

CONS: Even with the decent recovery, one of the fins cracked during the first landing after the A8-3 flight. I believe that has more to do with the very thin fin material and the pointed shape of the fin tips than any flaw in recovery method. We glued the cracked fin at the field with some thick CA and let it set while we flew a couple other rockets. The fix held fine for the 2nd and 3rd flights.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

PROS: Good price, excellent flier, easy to build, looks sharp

CONS: Slightly thicker fin material would be nice, maybe 3/32".

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5


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