(Contributed - by Chan Stevens - 01/17/06)
This X-Prize scale rocket showed good potential and an intriguing stealthy
boost glider design, but save your money though, as it's a real clunker for
Parts list includes:
- BT-55 fuselage tube
- BT-50 motor tube/pod tube
- Laser cut fins
- Molded plastic upper and lower halves
- Plastic display nozzles/nozzle base
- 18" plastic chute
- Assorted centering rings and hardware details
The instructions are fairly clear with plenty of good illustrations. It's
rated as a skill level 2 kit although I would have put it closer to a 3.
You begin with the construction of the pop pod. Nose weight is added in the
form of 4 heavy steel washers on the forward end. On the aft end, there's a
motor hook, block, and a wire assembly that serves to lock the elevators in
place for flight.
The fuselage tube is simple, basically serving as a conduit to hold the pop
pod. It gets a bulkhead on the forward end and is eventually mounted to the
balsa wing assembly.
For a largely plastic body, this kit has a lot of balsa, adding both weight
and complexity to the construction. There is a pair of matching wing halves,
top and bottom vertical stabilizers, and a pair of elevators (one fixed, one
floating). I goofed and didn't catch that the lower stabilizers are not
symmetrical--there's a definite left and right--and I got them backwards
initially. They have to be right or else the elevators and wire retention hook
won't line up correctly.
The plastic fuselage halves are then bonded to the balsa frame. I couldn't
get mine to line up very well and it took some trimming and a lot of gap
filling before I was finally done. The instructions call for using a silicone
adhesive. I used , which was just as effective but not as clean
and easy to work with.
Finally, there is a display plug that has three nozzles. It's a nice visual
Finishing on this kit is a bit of a pain. There's the matter of fairly ugly
seams between the fuselage halves and there is plenty of exposed balsa grain. I
applied a couple of light coats of primer, then sanded down to at least cover
the worst of the grain. After that, I went with a tan finish paint, followed by
a trim of gray, per the standard paint scheme. Masking off the gray is
challenging, given the contours of the fuselage. Finally, there are a
smattering of peel 'n' stick decals for trim.
out of 5
At nearly 9 ounces, I think the recommended D12-3 is overly optimistic. The
Estes catalog claims altitudes of 250 feet. I think this rocket would benefit
greatly from substituting higher thrust composite Es.
The flight profile is intended to have elevators locked in opposing
positions during boost, giving it a roll to help stability. At apogee, the
ejection charge forces the inner pop pod out, which falls under chute recovery.
By removing the heavy pod, the glider is now light enough to fly and the
floating elevator can spring into a lift-generating position. At least, that's
My flight lifted off fine although very slowly. It gently climbed with a
slight roll. About halfway through the climb, it arced over and started a nose
dive, crash landing under thrust. The pod deployed with a great deal of force,
still on the ground. The impact cracked both fuselage halves, one section of
balsa wing, and generally rendered this rocket to be retired from future
service. A very disappointing performance.
The only feeble pro I can offer up is that a few of the kids at the launch
thought the wreck was cool.
The cons are obvious: lousy flight, underpowered for the weight.
out of 5
There are very few rockets I've ever built that I felt were complete wastes of
my time and money. This was definitely one of them. It might make a nice
display model but not a good flyer.
out of 5
(Contributed - by Bruce D Canino - 08/17/06)
The Estes Cosmos Mariner is a 1:67 scale version of the Lone Star Space Access
team rocket plane for the X-Prize. It is a single stage D12-3 power glider with
pop-pod on 18" parachute recovery.
1 main body tube with 24mm pop-pod insert. The pop-pod have centering rings
that fit the body tube and 4 heavy washers for nose weight on boost. Flat wing
glider is made from 6 laser cut wing panels. There are also 4 fins (rudders).
The rest of the body is made from two large vacuumed form sheets of plastic.
There are three display engine nozzles that come off for flight.
The instructions are easy to follow and the illustrations are good. You must
have a good flat surface to build the wing. The wing consists of 6 large
sections of balsa, 3 for each half of the glider wing. It is very important to
have all pieces glue together flat. The hardest part was gluing on the two
vacuum form body sections. The body sections didn't fit the assembly well. The
instructions call for using a silicon adhesive. I used GE Silicone II. You have
to wipe away any excess glue as you cannot sand it later. I was not impressed
with the glue joint. If I had to do it again, I would use a thick super glue
No special requirements for finishing. The balsa wings need a lot of sanding
sealer to get smooth. The paint scheme is easy. There are a few stick on type
out of 5
The only recommended motor is the D12-3. The model boosts nicely with a slow
roll during boost. It is important when flying to make sure that the elastic
that pops up one elevator is attached well and when the pop-pod is inserted,
the movable elevator is facing the opposite direction of the glued on elevator.
This is what rolls the model during boost. Once the pop-pod ejects, the movable
elevator pops up to get the plane into glide configuration. This glider is hard
to balance. Even with glider at the specified balanced point, the glider stills
stalls in flight. It is hard to test glide it since it a fairly heavy glider.
It will take quite a few flights to trim out the glider. One person mentioned
to me that even though it was stalling, it was one of the best glides he seen
out of this kit.
I flew this model as a entry in SF/FF event at NARAM 48. On the first flight,
the parachute on the pop-pod got tangled in the wire hook on the back of the
pop-pod and never really opened, so it came streaming into the ground. The RSO
DQed the flight as unsafe. The pop-pod with all those washer is very heavy, so
it is important safety wise to make sure the chute will always open. On the
second flight, I got rid of the Estes supplied chute and use a nylon chute of
the same size. I also shortened the shroud lines and taped them to the pop-pod
way from the wire hook in the back so there was no chance of them snagging on
the wire. On the first landing, both wings cracked down the wing grain of the
balsa to a point outside the lower rudders. This was repaired with super glue
and flown again. Admittedly the ground at NARAM was hard packed and there was
no grass to cushion the landing. I am sure landing on macadam or concrete would
also be very bad for this glider, so avoid flying it near paved areas.
out of 5
I like this glider even thought it is on the heavy side. Most of the glider
seems right on except for the back where the engine goes. On the picture on the
package, it has the engine sitting inside the three display nozzles, however,
when you build it, the display nozzles come off and leave an ugly gap where the
body wrap doesn't quite fit around the body tube. I am guessing the original
plan was to have the display nozzles and backing on the pop-pod for flight but
was given up during the kit release. I think it is possible to grind out the
display backing to fit the pop-pod with the display nozzles but that is
something for another time.
out of 5