Tell us what it take for you to retire a rocket, the number of flights or it's age?

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
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I was thinking about this the last time I went flying.

On some really nice ones 4 or 5 flights and it gets retired.

Scale models, if it survives, maybe 2 or 3 flights then I'll just build another someday.

Now my prototype BT-60 Saturn 1B has about 10 flight on it but I'm not gonna retire it soon.

My Maxi V-2 has about 50 flights and is 30 years old...THAT's retired.

That's just me...everyone is probably different.

Give us your tilt on this.
The only one that I've truly retired is the first one I've built as an adult. It's an Estes Hi-Flier that is more of a Long-Flier than a Hi. On all 5 flights, it's attempted to slip the surly bonds of ownership and escape into the desert. 3 of those times I had given up on it after an extensive search, only to have it returned by a kindly fellow rocketeer who was also out scouring the sands for a fallen bird.

After 5 escape attempts, my first rocket isn't getting any more chances!

I really don't have any ancient rockets. Everything prior to 1986 or so was misplaced in the moves or thrown out by the parents. I have retired rockets for these reasons:

1. They have gotten worn out. Example: Estes Sizzler (1906). This totally got scorched by a D21. The body tube is blistered, almost looks melted. I could rebuild using the cone and fins I guess, so it could come out of retirement.

2. Rockets that typically require an OOP motor; Example: those that use 10.5mm motors. I have actually built an extension/adapter for one of these, converting it to 13mm. So the others could come out of retirement.

3. A few special rockets that took a lot of work are semi-retired, waiting for special launches. Example: my XL-5. This can happen after 1 or 2 flights.

4. Rockets that flew but really didn't work out so well. Example: My Airship R-100 (paper model converted to MMX) is just too heavy. I seem to do this often with MMX models (poor advance planning).

I guess most of these are more like semi-retired.
It is retired when it is destroyed. No sooner unless it is a REALLY special rocket. :D
until it evaporates or gets eaten...

if i have a fin it becomes the rocket again

half a fin? downscale!
My legendary 1969 Centuri Saturn V is in semi-retirement, but that's as much the result of me being out of rocketry for a few years, and not having anyplace decent to fly it of late. (I also can't find the removable motor mount module, but that would take me about an hour to make a new one if I wanted to.)

I'm thinking it might fly again, oh, on about 7/16/2009, the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, and roughly its own 40th anniversary. I suppose I might fly it again a few times on Apollo anniversaries, but I'm not gonna push it - I've got enough Saturn Vs of other varieties which will be ready to fly within a week or so, if I ever want to fly a Saturn V, I will never be short of any to fly.

I don't think I have anything else I literally would NOT fly. Everything else is more or less on the active-duty list.
I've seen Dave of Sirius Rocketry fly some of his originals, like his Mars Lander and old school Saturn V. Gives me the heebie-jeebies every time he does it too. I'm of the school though that they never retire. I didn't build 'em to put 'em on a shelf. I built 'em to fly 'em. The only rocket I retired purposely was the MooStang and I retired that one with a G80 in the back end and a wave buh-bye.
The only rocket I have that I can consider retired is my old Estes Athena.Very cool and tough little "fly anytime" rocket.After about 35+ streamer landings left it with a bit of a crease in the BT.I was gonna use the cone to make a boattail for my first Estes Sprint clone but thanks to Sandmans talent that won't be necessary.However,on the next order to BMS I may get me an extra coupler tube and try to bring it back to life.At least for a couple of more flights anyhow.
Originally posted by Neil
It is retired when it is destroyed. No sooner unless it is a REALLY special rocket. :D

Agreed. Even my wife's lamp is subject to recall to active duty, and in fact will at HOTROCS this weekend.

I retired my Rock-A-Chute Mk II only to make sure I had it to measure against in order to build the upscales.
I have an Estes Skywinder that has over 50 flights on it and still going strong. I have had to replace the body tube and one rotor blade but that's it though.

Not bad considering I bought it back in 1994 and it was one of my very first rockets and the only one to survive today. The others are history.
My answer would be pretty well identical to rstaff3's, with these notes:

1. I don't have anything quite that worn. One rocket, a heliroc, didn't spin enough and damaged its core tube; one day I might get round to repairing it, if I'm not busy with new rockets!

2. The MIRV Gryphon falls into this category - Estes don't make the A10-0T any more. I've still got a few, so the rocket could also fall into category 3.

3. Someone once suggested that I retire my Thunderbird 3 for that reason. My answer, within the week, involved a B6-4. :)

4. I've had one or two like this. The word "retired" is less appropriate than the word "scrapped". :)

Otherwise, I don't retire rockets. I've got one couple with 30 flights and a couple more with over 20. I know someone with a rocket that's done over 100, albeit not without the occasional fin replacement.
My old rockets don't retire. They core sample, or shred, or hang high in a tree. They burn up, drift away, vanish into thin air. They get trunk rash, stepped on or dropped. They delaminate, tangle or crumple. They never retire. ;)

What does it mean "retire"?

ain't never retired no rocket. Have *killed* a rocket, lost a rocket, vaporized a rocket, but can't imagine what it would mean to *retire* a rocket... :D :D :D
I feel the same about retiring rockets as I do about keeping them sealed in their bags as "collectables" never to be built. I didn't get into this hobby to not build rockets or to not fly them. To me that is a crying shame! I still fly my rockets from the 70's, and if I lose one, well that is part of the deal, there's always ebay or cloning. The only rocket that I have that could be called retired is a Mosquito that my son and I built last year after my original one got lost. We launched the new one once and nearly lost it too, luckily after much searching it was found and now my boy is hesitant to fly it, so for the moment you could say it is retired but I have a feeling it, too will fly again!

I sure wish I could go back in time and visit my 14-year-old self, and tell myself don't DARE lose track of that Mars Lander, Aerobee 300, Mercury Redstone (the one with the balsa nose cone and escape tower made from dowels!), Interceptor, Orbital Transport, etc., etc....

Knowing my wasteful attitude at the time, I probably tossed them out for what I'd consider minor damage today.

Nowadays, nothing gets "retired" - if it's damaged beyond practical repair, everything is torn down and the components get tossed into the parts box - even the motor hooks.
Retire..Well I have actually retired two model rockets. my original Satrun-V at the clubs section number 139 flights. it Could still fly but I've put she in a plastic cabinet with a copy of the complete flight log and photos of as many flights as I could find.

The other is a 2.6" V-2 signed by both Vern Estes and G. Harry Stine.

Other than those, they fly til they fly away or suffer a crushing Cato;)
Originally posted by vjp

Nowadays, nothing gets "retired" - if it's damaged beyond practical repair, everything is torn down and the components get tossed into the parts box - even the motor hooks.


Be honest, how many of us ol' timers have a box full of engine mounts and maybe even fin sets pulled from destroyed rockets???

I did a quick count of mine, and I have about 50 old engine mounts, just waiting for a new body. So, in *some* respect, I guess you could say even *those* rockets haven't been retired yet. They've just lost their nose cone, body tube and all the fins, is all.... :D
The normal fate for my rockets is to go onto a roof or into a tree or otherwise out of sight. I count it as irretrievable if it requires risking life & limb to attempt recovery.

I give away a lot of mine that get too dinged up to look good. I often have kids show up to watch a launch from the school-yard, and they get really excited when you give them one of your old rockets. I like to think that it might encourage them to get started themselves . .

Once in a while I will put in the biggest motor I have and go for a lunar orbit insertion, but most of the airspace here in the Ft Worth/Dallas metroplex is controlled (airports *everywhere*) and it's a big no-no to go very high.
If I don't want to bother with repairs, it gets retired.

I'm with you on wanting to retire your nice rockets real soon, though. My Atlantis only has one flight, and I bet it only gets 2 or 3 more before being retired.
I guess I'm the odd one...

Usually 10 or 12 flights and i'll retire it and build another identical...that's just me.
A tough call.....'cause I love to fly them all!

The only truly retired bird I have is the Mosquito and that was because it was so hard to track back the day.

Any remains from crashed/destroyed members of the Classic Fleet still serve as parts (Mini mean machine and the Shrike come to mind)

My Andromeda has flown three times since its restoration and yes....I do cringe until her chute deploys and is on target. Thanks to all the info from this forum, I may attempt a more ambitious restoration of her in the future.

The young padawans decided to "retire" their first rockets: science project rockets that I'm sure are not Estes (plastic fin can, silver pre colored body tubes with "ORBIT" logo and a red nose and payload section.


"One, Two, Five!!"
i used to stay up until the television stations went off the air...

RETIREMENT is not an option.
I tend to fly my models until they blow up, get lost, or crash so hard they are unrepairable.
Originally posted by Elapid

RETIREMENT is not an option.
I tend to fly my models until they blow up, get lost, or crash so hard they are unrepairable.

Same here. I usually fly my rockets until they get lost, heavily damaged or if I feel they are too unsafe to fly.

However, my 10 year old Skywinder is still going, it may be the old grey haired lady of my fleet but it's still alive and kickin'.:D
I them until they shred! :D

I want to retire my Stormcaster with over 25 flights

but I keep saying "Just one more D12 flight, last one"

It broke a fin last time out and I am repairing it now,

then I'll retire it......yeah right. :p
I've only retired one rocket. It was our first scratchbuilt at 1.5inch diameter around 1996.60+ flights. It flies beautifully on Ds and Es. Perfect for chad staging too. It's been shortened 5 times and been lengthened once. it has lost fins. It's done almost everything imaginable. My last flight on it was a CHAD to some nice high altitude. It was in the next field over. i couldn't get it immediately because I would be in range of the military target shooting. I found it but it unravelled at the coupler where we extended it. Luckily I was making a 29mmt version. The new "Red Rocket" just needs some more filleting, paint and shockcord attachment. I wish I could've done a drag race between the old one and the new one!!! :D
I guess when it comes to "retired" I have 3 catagories

1. Kits that turned out to nice to fly :)
My Estes Saturn V comes to mind its 25 years old and has never flown.

2 Kits that no longer fly due to damage or lack of interest, worn out etc.

3. The Warhorses that I always fly and will have to be destroyed before there grounded, like my PML Callisto which has over 100 flights on it. Or an Original Alpha which I stopped counting at over 200 Flights. And one day flew it 27 times. Thats right 9 PACKS of C6-7s.
Normally fly them till the distruct or are lost. But my buddy and I are each trying for 100 launches with one rocket. We will see how it go's.
I have two that have been retired the first is the autographed NSL stingray from Fliskits (1 flight) the other is the booster for my fat boy and it's only semi retired until I can figure out how to make it work without crashing the rest of the rocket :cool: