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We want to launch my late brother's ashes...

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oldeflame

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Complete noobie here to rocketry in any form, but I'm hoping to find help here.

My late brother expressed the wish "to go up in a sky rocket". We'd like to honor him by scattering a small amount of his cremains at the apogee of a rocket launch, but I have no idea how to go about that.

I am not asking for advice on the legalities of scattering, just some assistance with the technical aspects of the action. If anyone here has experience or advice with the "what and how", I would certainly appreciate it.

I can't monitor this thread very closely, so please don't feel offended if I can't answer your posts quickly. I do thank you for reading.
 

Steve Shannon

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I'm sorry for your loss. Make a folded pouch of Estes wadding or other lightweight paper and wrap the parachute around it. Then launch.
I asked my wife to have my rocketry buddies do this with some of my cremains as well. Hopefully a long time from now…
 

smugglervt

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Simplest way would to be to find a rocketeer willing to allow you to wrap some of your brother's remains in a piece of rocket wadding and place it his rocket to be expelled when the ejection charge goes off at apogee. No clue on the legality of it but wouldn't be that difficult a task to accomplish.
 

Peartree

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Simplest way would to be to find a rocketeer willing to allow you to wrap some of your brother's remains in a piece of rocket wadding and place it his rocket to be expelled when the ejection charge goes off at apogee. No clue on the legality of it but wouldn't be that difficult a task to accomplish.
Many rocketeers do this regularly with chalk as "tracking powder" to help us see the apogee (highest point) of the flight, or at least the point we should be looking for our rocket when the parachute ejects.

If you go to the nar.org webpage you can probably find a club that launches near where you live. From there, you may be able to contact someone from that club, or even find a mailing list or Facebook page where you can contact all (or many) of the club members. One, or several, of them might be willing to assist you in scattering your brother's ashes.

My condolences on the loss of such a close family member. I am certain that he would appreciate your efforts to carry out his wishes.

Finally, in the (unlikely) event that you can't find someone local-ish to help you, the NAR and TRA (two national rocketry organizations) as well as several larger clubs host annual launches that draw a great many fliers. If necessary, please accept my invitation to return here, ask again, and I am certain that, although it may involve more travel, someone could be found that would be willing to help you.
 

oldeflame

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This would be something we would prefer to do privately and as a family. Is it possible to get recommendations as to how to go about it ourselves without involving a crowd?
 

dhbarr

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Complete noobie here to rocketry in any form, but I'm hoping to find help here.

My late brother expressed the wish "to go up in a sky rocket". We'd like to honor him by scattering a small amount of his cremains at the apogee of a rocket launch, but I have no idea how to go about that.

I am not asking for advice on the legalities of scattering, just some assistance with the technical aspects of the action. If anyone here has experience or advice with the "what and how", I would certainly appreciate it.

I can't monitor this thread very closely, so please don't feel offended if I can't answer your posts quickly. I do thank you for reading.
If you mention your approximate location, I am certain we can help find someone who would be glad to help.
 

smugglervt

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This would be something we would prefer to do privately and as a family. Is it possible to get recommendations as to how to go about it ourselves without involving a crowd?
Go to your local toy/hobby store and find an Estes starter kit. Contains, rocket, launch pad, launch controller. You may have to assemble the rocket but most beginner kits are very easy. You will then have to buy the motors and wadding. Estes tells you right on the package the best motor to use. Should be able to get it all for under $50 if you shop around.
 

oldeflame

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Thank you, we had already looked at Estes online, a bit. Price is really not an issue, but getting it right is.

We are in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
 

MikeyDSlagle

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If you would like it to be a small private matter then buy you a kit, some are nearly assembled, and some motors. Find you a field and launch. Better yet buy a launch set and you will have the launch equipment as well.
Are you wanting to see the apogee event and the scattering of the ashes?
Are gong to want to keep the rocket afterwards?
Many folks here would be willing to build you a rocket to do it with. Possibly free of charge. It would be a good project.
I would recommend finding a club and maybe speaking one on one with someone knowledgeable about rockets and maybe have them attend the launch to make sure everything goes right. You wouldn't want the rocket to not get off the ground.
You can absolutely do it yourselves if that is what you choose. Will be easier to get help and maybe ground equipment from a rocket ever though.
 

boatgeek

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Thank you, we had already looked at Estes online, a bit. Price is really not an issue, but getting it right is.

We are in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
I'm in the area as well. The easiest place to launch rockets in the area is at 60 Acres Park in Redmond. You can check out the calendar here: http://www.60acres.org/calendar.html. The park tends to get really busy in late June, so you will want to move pretty quickly. By early July, soccer will have taken over the fields all day every day until September.

If you send me a personal message, I can help you out with a rocket, motor, launch pad, etc. or point you to others who can help. The easiest way to do this is to borrow equipment, but if you want something personal, you can also build your own rocket. I believe that Galaxy Hobby up in Lynnwood has a few starter sets and kits if you want to go that route. If you are building your own, choose one that goes to 500-1000 feet, as going higher than that can lead to drifting off the field into horse pasture, river, or trees at 60 Acres.
 

oldeflame

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Yes, the family plans to watch the scattering; it will be a separate event from the memorial service, and it will probably be over water so recovering the rocket is not a concern.

I tried contacting a local group via email and got no response, which is why I posted here.

I am quite willing to try this on our own, but if anyone here is willing to put a suitable rocket together for us, we would be happy to compensate you for your time and trouble; as I said upthread, its getting it right that's our concern.

Many thanks for the replies.
 

Peartree

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Small and private is certainly possible and there are still likely to be folks that will be more than happy to help (and some of them have already chimed in). The reason for mentioning a club was that if you wanted a "bigger rocket" to "go higher" then you might have wanted to use a high power (HPR) rocket, but for that you would need a waiver from the FAA which is just easier at a club launch where they already have one. If you fly a low power (LPR) rocket, of which there are many, then you can fly it most anywhere, most anytime (as long as it's daytime).

Best wishes for a positive resolution and fold memories.
 

oldeflame

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Thank you. Most of the family is on the West side of the Sound, from Bremerton down to Tacoma. We have not decided exactly where to launch, but it will likely be over water and we are not concerned with recovering the rocket.
 

oldeflame

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Small and private is certainly possible and there are still likely to be folks that will be more than happy to help (and some of them have already chimed in). The reason for mentioning a club was that if you wanted a "bigger rocket" to "go higher" then you might have wanted to use a high power (HPR) rocket, but for that you would need a waiver from the FAA which is just easier at a club launch where they already have one. If you fly a low power (LPR) rocket, of which there are many, then you can fly it most anywhere, most anytime (as long as it's daytime).

Best wishes for a positive resolution and fold memories.
Thank you for your kindness! Its a tough time for the family, as this is the second unexpected death we've had to deal with since January.
 

ActingLikeAKid

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I'm so sorry for your loss, and I think this is a lovely way to memorialize a family member.

If you plan to build and fly the rocket yourself, I would recommend trying a few practice launches just to get familiar with the equipment. While launching a rocket is pretty straightforward, there are a couple of "newbie mistakes" [see below] we've all made that you'd want to avoid at the ceremony.

Good luck with this. And we're all here if you have any questions.



*-Off the top of my head:
-Make sure the controller has fresh batteries.
-It's easy to short-circuit the igniter. Make sure the leads only touch at the tip.
-Make sure you have enough wadding and that it's packed loosely.
-Make sure the nose cone isn't too tight
-Make sure that all of the fins are on securely (you should be able to nudge them with a finger without snapping them off)
 

AfterBurners

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I was thinking the same thing for myself. I can build rocket for my L3 attempt then get certified as my ashes are scattered over the dessert playa.
 

oldeflame

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wow, thank you! A great recommendation about some practice launches. One of us will do that.
 

MikeyDSlagle

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Thank you for your kindness! Its a tough time for the family, as this is the second unexpected death we've had to deal with since January.
I can relate sir. Though I can't imagine losing one of my brothers, I lost two cousins and an aunt within 2 weeks around Easter this year. It was tough. I lost one of my grandmothers in June and the other in December of the same year and a great uncle sometime in between.

You have my condolences. I would be more than happy to build you a rocket or donate one I have already built. Time just won't allow that though.

Good luck to you.
 

Exactimator

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I did this once with a modified Aerotech G-Force and a soda can with the top cut off, but honestly it didn't work that well (33% success rate). I'll echo what others have said. Wrap the ashes in some wadding or a nomex chute protector so the ejection charge pushes it out at apogee.

The only things I would add are:

You can practice using ashes from Kingsford charcoal. They're similar. It'll let you see how well they scatter and how well you can see it at altitude.

Have a back-up rocket or two. That way if you have a failure you'll be able to continue the memorial service. I went through three G-forces. One crashed during testing and both the others crashed at the memorial launch. I was able to scatter ashes twice.
 

oldeflame

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Thank you! I appreciate the advice from someone who has done this. I'm thinking we are only going to be able to launch an ounce or two of the ashes... is that reasonable?
 

Exactimator

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Thank you! I appreciate the advice from someone who has done this. I'm thinking we are only going to be able to launch an ounce or two of the ashes... is that reasonable?
No problem.

An ounce or two of the ashes? I guess it depends on what you're going for.

I wanted a big send-off. I wasn't certified for high power, so I got the big G-Force and launched it on Aerotech G single use white thunders. It was loud with a big flame, went a decent height (maybe 800 feet) and scattered enough ash (about 8 ounces) to make a small white cloud.

A couple ounces may not be much to see more than a few hundred feet up. But maybe that's all you're going for? A simple launch on a low power rocket to a few hundred feet with a little bit of ash. On a clear blue day you might be able to see it well. Maybe you line a few up and launch them right after another in a multi-rocket salute.

If you have time, try this: Get some decent size low power rockets like an Estes Crayon, Freefall or Sizzler. Very little assembly required. The Freefall is actually designed as a payload freighter. It pops a little army guy out, who descends on his own chute. Get some C6-5 motors and some BBQ burnt charcoal ashes and try it out. See how high it goes, how much ash it can lift, how well you can see the scatter. If you like it there are other model rocket kits that size you can build and paint custom if you like. Like a Big Daddy or Big Bertha.

You might decide it's not enough of a show for a good send-off. If not, there are MANY other larger rockets and motors you would still be able to fly without a certification. Come back here and we'll help you out. Or as others have said, get in touch with your local club. Rocketeers are good folks who would be happy to help. That's how I did mine. I found the local club and contacted the president who had done it before and helped me. I've never met BoatGeek, but based on his TRF posts he'd probably be a great help for you.
 

Exactimator

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Here's a pic of the ashes being scattered. Like I said, that's about 8 ounces (half a soda can) at about 800 feet.

Picture 4.png
 

oldeflame

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Totally cool, and that would be my preference, but is that within the capabilities of a bunch of somewhat elderly amateurs?
 

Tonimus

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It might be worth contacting someone in the hobby and seeing if you could buy a bird that is ready to be retired. If cost isn't an issue and you want to do it yourself, an Aerotech Initiator kit with launch equipment would work well. You could always come back here or locally sell the launch equipment.
 

KennB

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Thank you. Most of the family is on the West side of the Sound, from Bremerton down to Tacoma. We have not decided exactly where to launch, but it will likely be over water and we are not concerned with recovering the rocket.
I'd like to add my condolences to those that have been offered here.

If the final launch will be over water, I'd like to recommend a kit without a plastic nosecone. The Fliskits Thing-a-Ma-Jig is a good size rocket that is very easy to build correctly.
 

Exactimator

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Totally cool, and that would be my preference, but is that within the capabilities of a bunch of somewhat elderly amateurs?
That rocket had several modifications and was still tricky. I'd recommend getting some local experienced help to make sure you have a good, successful memorial.

There's an option for a large, low cost rocket here just to give you more ideas: http://www.estesrockets.com/rockets/pro-series/rockets/e2x-kits/009708-pro-series-iitm-e2x-mammothtm

KennB has a good point. If there's a chance this could end up in the water never to be retrieved, it might be best to use a rocket of all cardboard and wood that would eventually disintigrate.
 

Exactimator

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How's it going, oldeflame? Have you figured out what you're going to do yet?
 
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