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Launch Pads for Model Rockets

You have a few different options when it comes to getting a launch pad for your model rockets. And all of the options are inexpensive. First let's take a quick look at what a launch pad is.


What is a launch pad?

Pretty simple thing here. It is just a safe place to launch a rocket from and they all share some similarities. They have some kind of a metal sheet or pad that shields the blast of the rocket when it takes off. And secondly they have some kind of a straight rod that the rocket rides on in its first couple of feet of flight.

There are variations from there and the biggest variation is size. If you launch bigger rockets you are going to need a bigger launch pad.

Let's take a quick look at the basic pad.

A basic Launch Pad

This picture shows a basic launch pad. I will explain the numbers:

1. This is the metal rod that the rocket rides up

2. This is the circular metal plate blast shield that protects the pad and ground from the blast of the rocket engine.

3 the three plastic legs of the launch pad

4. the hand held contoller (black) with connecting wire (red). This is where you put the batteries and press the button to launch the rocket.


Launch Pad Components

The launch pad in this picture and in the previous picture is the Estes launch pad. This picture here shows the various parts that you get. You quickly assembly this and your launch pad is ready. It is made to assemble and disassemble quickly and easily so you can transport it out to your launch site. I have a tutorial with a video showing how to assemble this exact launch pad


Rocket on the pad

One more thing I want to point out before we look at launch pads. This picture here shows a close up of a rocket (Big Bertha: Estes 1948 Big Bertha Flying Model Rocket Kit ) sitting on the launch pad. It hasn't yet been wired up to fire but you can see the launch lug on this rocket. It's been painted white. That is a plastic tube much like a straw that has been glued to the rocket. It slides over the metal rod of the launch pad. When the rocket launches it rides right up this launch rod.


Options for buying Launch Pads

The tandem X launch system

You can buy a launch pad separately and they are quite cheap but if you are new to rocketry you can also buy a nice little kit that comes with a rocket or rockets and the launch pad. It takes a lot of the hassle out of getting started. I bought the Estes tandem-X shown in the picture here. It comes with two rockets you can build and the launch pad. Almost everything you need. (You have to buy rocket engines separately) Estes 1469 Tandem-X Launch Set



About the above Tandem X set:I have a complete tutorial on this. I show you unboxing, making the rockets and more.


Stand Alone Launch Pads

Estes Launch Pad

Estes 302215 Porta-Pad II Launch Pad

Sturdy, plastic tripod design with tilt adjustment (up to 30 from vertical). Easy to set up and take down - no tools required! Comes complete with blast deflector and standoff, two piece 1/8" (3 mm) launch rod and safety cap. Porta-Pad II can accommodate a 3/16" (5 mm) Maxi launch rod (#302244) - not included.


Quest also makes a nice launching pad

The Quest launch Pad

Quest Aerospace Model Rocket Launch System

This package contains the Quest Lift Off Launch Pad, the Quest Controller and the Quest External Battery Connector for a great savings off the individual prices.

The Quest Lift Off Model Rocket Launch Pad features a 36in (91cm) two-piece launch rod, blast deflector plate, tilt adjustment, rockd safety cap and wind streamer. With it's wide base design and single-leg tilt adjustment, the Quest Lift Off Launch Pad is equally at home on rocky terrain or smooth grass.

The Quest Model Rocket Launch Controller features a blinking arming saftey light, beeping alarm and deluxe saftery key in a 'suregrip' design. The Quest Launch Controller is easy for all ages to use. Requires one 9v alkaline battery.

The Quest External Battery Connector (EBC) is an excellent resource for the larger group launches. The Quest EBC allows you to easily use the 'lantern style' batteries with your Quest launch controller. Simply attach the Quest EBC onto the 9V connector of your Quest launch controller and connect the other end to a standard 'lantern battery' and you're ready for a full day of launching model rockets!

When you are ready for a bigger rocket and a bigger launch pad:

Mantis Launch pad by Aerotech

Mantis Launch Pad The Mantis is perfect for flying both mid-power rockets (E, F, G) and small model rockets (A through D) as it accepts 1/4", 3/16" and 1/8" launch rods. Mantis makes loading a rocket easy with a swing-arm that can lower the launch rod to a horizontal position. Loaded rockets sit well off the ground for comfortable igniter hook up. Mantis is the only midpower rocket launch pad that allows launch rod elevation and azimuth adjustments to be made without having to pick up and move the entire launcher. Mantis come with a two-piece 1/4" diameter launch rod.


This mantis launch pad also comes in a nice kit.


Aerotechn starter pak

Initiator Systems Pack, RMS

The Initiator Systems Package is your basic introduction to big hobby rocketry. This comprehensive kit contains everything necessary to fly the big stuff! The starter kit includes the Initiator rocket kit, Mantis launch pad kit, Interlock launch controller kit, 29mm Reloadable rocket motor casing with hardware, and complete easy-to-follow illustrated instructions. 29mm Motor reloadable propellant, and motor igniters are not included, but necessary to fly the assembled rocket. The portable launch system is designed to fly the entire line of AeroTech rockets.