Sputnik 1’s 98-minute jaunt around the planet in 1957 ignited a passion for space among amateur rocketeers that endures today. Models slake our thirst for thrust without billion-dollar budgets. But while their small combustible motors offer plenty of lift, they typically sacrifice either altitude or acceleration. The Apogee Aspire can deliver both for around $60.
Weight: 1 ounce A cardboard fuselage and hollow nose cone minimize the 29-inch missile’s weight to maximize efficiency. Sanding down the laser-cut balsa fins creates smooth edges that reduce drag.
Max height: 1 mile+ Choose a slow-burning motor to push the Apogee more than a mile high. A metallic ribbon attached with a Kevlar cord (which also secures the nose cone) makes it easy to track across the sky and recover after landing.
Speed: Mach 1+ With a hotter, faster-burning fuel source, the Aspire easily exceeds the speed of sound. It hits Mach 1 as it passes 200 feet, creating a sonic boom on its way toward the heavens.
This story originally published in the Out There issue of Popular Science.