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Rockets to soar into desert sky this weekend

Rocketry club set for blast off at annual winter launch

The sky will light up with thousands of rockets during the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association's Desert Heat 2012 this weekend.

The Federal Aviation Administration will clear airspace as high as 6,500 feet above the field at 3250 N. Reservation Rd., for the club's 7th annual two-day winter rocket launch Saturday and Sunday, said SARA President Sean Keane in a press release.

A night launch Saturday is expected to light up the sky from dusk to 9 p.m.  

"If you've never been to a night launch, it's very exciting to watch," said Eric Burch, of SARA, in the press release. "In a daytime launch, you see mainly smoke, but at night you'll see flames coming out of the rockets in a variety of colors."

The event will include a 12-foot-tall Crayon rocket and a children's rocket launch that will feature 50 tetrahedron rockets kids can retrieve to exchange for prizes. 

The rockets range in size from simple models to more than 10 feet tall and reach a height of up to 6,500 feet. Some even have the ability to carry high-tech equipment such as a GPS or radio tracking transmitters, Burch said.

Each rocket will be designed and built to remain intact during flight and deploy a parachute to land safely on the ground that can be reused. All rockets must pass a safety check before they are flown, Burch said.

"We want to put Tucson on the map when it comes to rocketry, because we have some of the best weather and wide-open space available," said Burch in the press release.

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The rocket launch will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at 3250 N. Reservation Rd. Admission is $5 for adults and free for SARA members and those younger than 18.

SARA was formed in 1994 as part of the National Association of Rocketry and helps promote rocket models, high power rocketry, interest in engineering and increase awareness of rocketry as a hobby.

For more information about the event and SARA visit www.sararocketry.org.

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Pam Shoemaker/SARA

Sean Keane helps his son, Duncan, prepare one of his rockets for flight.

If you go

  • What: Desert Heat 2012, the 7th annual Winter Rocket Launch
  • Where: 3250 N. Reservation Rd. (between Manville and Mile Wide roads)
  • When: Saturday from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
  • What to bring: Lawn chair, hat and sunscreen