Tintin Moon Rocket Model
For more information regarding Tintin consult the Hergé foundation's excellent
This page outlines the creation of a scratch-built working rocket model
of the famous Tintin moonship - powered by an Estes C6-5 rocket motor.
The adjacent video compares the performance of an Estes C6-5 powered US
missile model (EST1818) with that of the Tintin rocket. First there is
a demonstration of the Estes 3-stage motor - thrust, tracer and ejection stages.
This is followed by a split-screen slow-motion view of each model launching
- ignition occurring at exactly the same time. Not surprisingly, the heavier
Tintin model takes longer to clear the pad. Finally, the whole of the Tintin
rocket flight is shown.
If you want to create a Tintin model rocket then the first thing you
need is a copy of "Destination Moon." In it you will find
the most beautiful full-page blue print of the moonship - it's as if
Hergé wanted us to build it! The model was scaled such that standard
table tennis balls could be used for the landing shock-absorbers.
The model was constructed from 200gsm card and as such was simplified
to ease manufacture. The body was represented by a series of straight-edged
sections and the compound curves of the landing legs were modified to
form simple cones.
The resulting structure was 'unwrapped' and decorated prior to printing
out the components on 200gsm card.
Before flight, nose ballast was added to balance the model and ensure
that it was stable. This was achieved exactly as detailed in the Estes model
rocket instructions. These instructions are reproduced below.
Design of the model commenced in July 2009. The necessary fittings for
the rocket were cannibalized from an old Estes model.
These fittings included the motor tube and the launch
rail guide rings. The fins were constructed from 1.5mm plywood painted
The finished model measures 425mm in height and weighs 145g. The C.G.
is positioned exactly at the junction of the rocket body and leading edge
of the fin.
The initial test flights went well, however, there are two possible modifications
that may benefit the model. Both arise from the higher mass of the Tintin
rocket compared to the US missile. Firstly, the C6-5 motor has a tracer
stage that lasts too long (5 seconds) - the rocket is already well into
its descent when the parachute deploys. A C6-3 (3 second tracer stage)
is perhaps more appropriate and would lead to a longer flight time (greater
than 15 seconds).
Secondly, the parachute, which has similar dimensions to that on the
US missile, should be increased in size. This would prolong the descent
stage and hence also increase the total flight time.
Finally, a few words about flight preparation. Don't forget to take some
spare equipment to the field - such as spare igniters - as malfunctions
can (and do) happen. Also, to ensure smooth deployment, it is recommended
that the parachute is dusted with talc.
Note: operating model rockets can be hazardous if care is not taken.
Always follow the safety instructions that accompany model rocket motors
and equipment. For questions relating to model rocket safety please contact
your country's governing body. In Great Britain, the British Model Flying
Association (BMFA) is the body delegated by the Royal Aero Club to be
responsible for all aspects of model flying - including model rocketry.
Membership of the BMFA brings many benefits, including access to expert
advice, a structured achievement scheme and 3rd party liability insurance
of up to £10 million. Visit www.bmfa.org
for more information.
Guidance on shaping the body panels
- sheet 1
Guidance on shaping the body panels
- sheet 2
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