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REV 2.4 - Tue Aug 17 04:03:48 2010

Mile High
Explorer 1

Superior, Colorado
(303) 554-1037
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SPECS: 22" x 0.97" - oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: A8-3, B6-4, B6-6, C6-5, C6-7

(Contributed - by Bryan Penfold)

Mile High Rockets ExplorerBrief:
This is the second kit available from Mile High Rockets. It is listed as a Skill Level 3 kit and utilizes unique fin rails and a tube fin setup.

Components are mostly high quality and include one cardboard body tube, one motor tube, three motor rings, an engine hook, plastic nose cone, 24" Kevlar cord and a 14" Kevlar wrapped shock cord, three cardboard fin tubes, three balsa fins, 9" of "easy-mount" fin rail, launch lug, decals and a 12.5" flame-resistant parachute kit (unassembled).

Instructions were comparable to Estes instructions, four pages with easy to follow illustrations. There is also an instruction sheet for the parachute kit. Assembly order was typical; not all that difficult for a Level 3 rocket. Pieces fit together well. I felt the balsa fins were of strange quality, but they sanded fine and are covered by decals in the end. I liked the balsa fin rail material which was new to me. It helped in attaching the fins to the body. I did have some trouble understanding how they were to be shaped with sandpaper, and I'm still not sure I did it right. The directions and illustrations seem to conflict in this area. I also had some trouble mounting the tube fins to the balsa fins. One needs to install all three of them at about the same time to assure vertical alignment, and this was somewhat difficult. I don't know if I like their flame-resistant parachute so I substituted a 12" mylar chute for the one provided.

Finishing was standard primer and paint. I used my own color selection and added only a few of the decals that were included. I didn't care for the decals much, they were a very heavy plastic and the adhesive seemed to ooze from them. After I was finished, I applied several coats of clear coat.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

I have flown this only once as the body tube was severely damaged in flight and it needs repair. Preparation is typical for rockets using wadding. First flight was on an Estes A8-3. It went straight up to about 400' and landed about 100' from the pad. I would recommend a slightly longer delay.

The recovery system is attached to the motor mount with the two Kevlar cords. I feel that the Kevlar cord sticks way too far out of the tube and I expect the rocket to zipper before long. The directions indicate that the nose cone be attached to the middle of the elastic cord and the parachute attaches at the end. I modified this, tying the nose cone at the end and the parachute to the nose cone as I would for an Estes rocket. During the first flight, the! end of the body tube was crushed, I'm not sure if it was trying to zipper or the nose cone rebounded into it.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5


  • Creative styling and unique materials, mostly high quality.
  • I really liked the fin rails.


  • The decals could be much better quality.
  • Rocket was damaged in flight.

This is a decent second effort for Mile High Rockets. I will try them again.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

(Contributed - by Layne Pemberton [Who's Who Page] - 08/14/05) Mile High Rockets Explorer 1

Explorer 1 is a single stage, futuristically styled, sport rocket and is one of two kits available from Mile High Rockets. While rated skill level 3 by Mile High, I would put it at a solid 2. Fin tip tubes and the unique fin rail mounting system, which speeds fin attachment, add a bit of flair.

The kit was supplied with:

  • 1 plastic nose cone
  • 1 BT-50 0.097" body tube
  • 1 18mm motor mount
  • 2 centering rings
  • 3 laser cut 0.0625" fins
  • 1 length of fin mounting rail
  • 3 BT-5 tube fins
  • 24" Kevlar thread
  • 1 12.5" heat resistant parachute with snap swivel
  • 1 Stubby 9" Kevlar wrapped shock cord
  • Positive motor retention hook
  • 1 tiny launch lug

PROs: The easy to follow instructions are on two 8.5" x 11" pages, printed front and back, and sprinkled with helpful illustrations throughout. The fin mounting rails, which are a great idea, needed a bit of shaping to conform to the curve of the body tube, but the slots mated up snugly with the laser cut fins. Fin alignment was a breeze and all tubes were well cut with only minor fraying. No real "gotchas" surfaced during construction. 24" Kevlar was a welcome addition.

CONs: The supplied fin alignment template is a bit small and provided little help. The Kevlar wrapped shock cord was way too short (at only nine inches long) and the supplied parachute proved to be just a tad large for this body tube diameter.

PROs: The balsa fins sealed easily enough and with just a minor amount of work. The fin mounting rails can be made to blend beautifully with the fin and airframe. A single base color is all that is needed, Mile High suggests silver but I went with gloss white.

CONs: The vinyl decals supplied with the kit leave a lot to be desired. Their thickness makes them an eyesore and the poor color quality spoils the look of the kit. The fin decals and the Explorer 1 logo were the only ones I found to be usable. None of them adhered well to the painted surface.

Construction Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Mile High Rockets Explorer 1

The first and only flight was on a C6-5. Instead of wadding, I attached a section of Nomex cloth from Pratt Hobbies to the Kevlar thread. The rocket cocked hard into the wind after leaving the rod but was stable otherwise.

PROs: Weathercocked into the 10mph breeze but still achieved ~1000' altitude. Appeared to be very stable but I will never know for sure as it landed in cow dung and is now buried in a shallow grave.

CONs: Besides weathercocking and the stench, the only flight was a success.

PROs: The 12.5 inch chute is perfect for this kit. It came down less than 200 meters away even in 10mph winds and no heat damage was observed, so maybe the chute is really heat resistant. As far as I could tell, the stubby shock cord did not cause any body damage due to rebound as expected but I would like to see a much longer one included in the kit.

CONs: After a call to Mile High Rockets, I was informed that the manufacturer is not responsible for damages received from landings in animals droppings, fresh or otherwise so I will have to buy and build another one.

Mile High Rockets Explorer 1

Flight Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

PROs: Goes together easily, parts were of good quality, prefabricated fin mounting rails are a great idea, full length Kevlar thread, Kevlar wrapped shock cord, heat resistant parachute, and good instructions.

CONs: Shock cord is way too short, vinyl decals are too thick, lack depth and color and don't adhere well, and parachute is a bit thick for BT diameter.

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

09/07 - "Nice Rocket I plan to up scale it to a 24 and a 29mm.I love the tubes on the fins I have designed several myself." (J.B.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

12/03 - "The reviewer said that he swapped out the flame-resistant parachute that came with the kit for a mylar chute. I would discourage this. I have used the Mile High chutes several times and they work much better than mylar. While stray ejection charge will melt plastic or mylar and make it stick together, the worst that happens to the Mile High chute is a few pinhole scorch marks. The Mile High chutes also have a memory, so they can be packed into a very tight wad but will still unravel themselves and deploy even in cold weather." (B.C. )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Wind Notes
08-13-2005 Layne Pemberton Est SU C6-5 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds RIP - Cocked hard into the wind after leaving the rod but was stable otherwise. 12.5 inch chute is perfect for this kit, came down less than 200 meters away even in 10mph winds. Landed in fresh cow pile, too stinky to repair. Status: Retired

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