How To Make Amateur Rockets Bookset
If you have dreamed of designing, building and launching your own rocket, you have come to the right place. CP Technologies was started in 1994 with a three booklet/video series on how to make your own solid rocket motors. These booklets grew into the bookset "How To Make Amateur Rockets", which include a DVD video and software. The rocket motor used in the Pathfinder Rocket above was designed by students using the information in the "How To Make Amateur Rockets" bookset. Pathfinder was the first rocket launched by NASA that was entirely designed and built by college students.
"How To Make Amateur Rockets" was written by John Wickman, a professional rocket propulsion engineer with over 40 years of experience in solid, liquid and exotic Space propulsion technologies. The 2nd Edition classic book/software/video set sells for just $49.95, which includes shipping within the United States. This book is completely illustrated with photographs and drawings. Click on the Publications tab above for more information and to order your copy.
Solid Rocket Motor Design Classes
The 2021 classes have already been held, but more class will be scheduled in 2022.
In 2004, we started a "hands on" motor design class that we continue to offer three times a year during the summer. This unique class offers a way for people who want hands on guidance on their first rocket motor to get into the hobby. Unlike other classes that only show you how to mix and cast propellant, this class lets you design, build and test fire your own rocket motor. We have also taught a modified version of this class for new engineers at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory as well as college students and instructors. If your organization wants a special class, let us know. Click on the Design Classes tab above for more information and to register for a class.
Resources to Help
Our resource page has a list of suppliers for chemicals, electronics and things you will need for your rocket and rocket motor. It also has blank FAA waiver forms, information on data acquistion software installation instructions, book updates and a lot more. Click on the Resources tab above for more information.
It may be hard to believe, but yes, they were at one time. Even Robert Goddard conducted his initial rocket experiments with only his limited personal financial resources and never did make a living out of it until World War II. You see amateur rocketry is the foundation for all rocketry today whether it be professional, model rocketry or high power rocketry. The great ancestors of the modern rocket were amateur rockets built by the early pioneers of rocketry. These men had dreams of rockets taking people to the Moon, Mars and beyond. For the most part, they were considered crackpots who did not understand basic physics - "rockets cannot work in the vacuum of Space as there is nothing for the rocket exhaust to push against". Of course, today we know that this is utter nonsense.
In the 1930's, these crackpots formed amateur rocketry societies to pool their financial resources and combine their skills to make successful rockets. These groups had names like "Verein fur Raumschiffahrt - VfR" (translation: Society for Space Travel) or the "American Interplanetary Society". The American Interplanetary Society later renamed itself the American Rocket Society (ARS) in an attempt to lessen chuckles and hoots from the establishment press and scientific/engineering community. The VfR had members like Wernher von Braun, Klaus Riedel and Willy Ley. The ARS had members like H. Franklin Pierce, Max Kraus, Edward Pendray and James Wyld. The ARS later became the professional society for aerospace engineers, The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics or AIAA.
Amateur rocketry was given an undeserved bad reputation with the propaganda theme of "you'll kill yourself if you make your rocket motors". Model rocketry organizations and commercial manufacturers led a major propaganda campaign to paint all amateur rocketeers as "basement bombers". The drum beat steadily until this "politically correct" message was firmly imbedded in the minds of all rocketeers, fire marshals and government officials. The few voices speaking out against this propaganda were not given much credibility. The old time amateur rocketeers of the 30's were now "professional" aerospace engineers and had no time or interest in the survival of amateur rocketry in America. Forgetting their roots, these engineers felt amateurs had nothing to contribute to rocketry except bad publicity and accidents.
Today, things are different. Amateur rocketry is emerging from the dark ages of the past few decades. Technologies in the form of composite solid rocket propellants and the personal computer are responsible for the renaissance of amateur rocketry. While many commercial manufacturers and some model rocket organizations are still trying to suppress amateurs, they are losing the battle. NASA and aerospace industries are realizing that amateur rocketry lays the best foundation for aerospace engineering skills that will be needed tomorrow.