Want to add some extreme zip into your next model airplane project? Try converting a glider into a rocket-powered NASA research aircraft. In this case, the glider is an Aero-Graphics Messerschmitt Me-163B "Komet" kit. Originally designed for the hard-to-find Jetex-50 rocket propulsion system, our "Pocket Rocket Komet" is powered by a single A3-4T Estes model rocket engine.
In 1986, the movie Space Camp was released and freeze-dried ice cream became all the rage around the country. These small packages of impossibly light and dry Neapolitan ice cream were everywhere. For many of us, this unusual, crunchy confection was our first introduction to freeze-dried food. Freeze-dried ingredients were originally popular with the military and NASA, and later gained a foothold with camping outfitters as an extremely lightweight way to carry a variety of foods into the wilderness that could be easily prepared with the simple additions of water and heat.
When Neil Armstrong pressed the first bootprint into the Sea of Tranquility, most of humanity watched the televised low-res blob and felt pride welling up in their chests. But a few watchers felt something entirely different—an unconfirmed, squinty-eyed skepticism that something about the whole deal smelled fishy. How could the United States, which could barely put a chimp into space in 1961, get two full-grown men on the surface of the moon eight years later? How could anyone confirm that men actually made it to the moon? And, how, exactly, had that $25 billion Apollo budget been spent?
On December 6, 1957, hot on the heels of Sputnik, the United States Navy readied the first American satellite, Vanguard, for launch. The grapefruit-sized device lofted 3 feet from Earth before it exploded. Press and public jeered, dubbing it "Flopnik." ("The exact cause is classified," says the crisp narrator in a vintage video [below] of the attempt.) A red-faced U.S. government redoubled their efforts. Within a year and a half, Vanguard's replacement took the first measurements of Earth's upper atmosphere and its successor, Vanguard II, the first scan of Earth's clouds.
I’m in awe of NASA as much as the next guy. But, as the venerable space agency toasts its golden anniversary next month, I just can’t escape the Grouse in me. Sure, the last 50 years of extra-terrestrial poking around have been filled with innovation and breakthrough. Unfortunately, there’s also been a lot of crap—specifically on the consumer side of things. Why does it seem like only the lamest, most cheeseball products on the market claim to be NASA-approved?