Monday, May 1, 2017

The Astron Star Blazer

If I remember correctly, the first Star Blazer was a "FREE KIT" included in Estes orders over $5.00. That's where I got mine, anyway.
It certainly wasn't a favorite design but at thirteen years old a free rocket was always a good thing.

This rocket used "Short" engines. They were 18mm engines but one inch shorter at 1.75" long.
On this face card illustration the recommended engines were the 1/4A3-1S, 1/2A6-2S an the 1/2A6-4S.
I don't remember ever using a 1/4A3-1S engine. In a rocket this size that would be like a MicroMaxx flight with the one second delay.

The Star Blazer made its first catalog appearance in 1970.
The engines are more powerful now, with a 1/2A6-2S, A5-2S and A5-4S.

The Star Blazer had an interesting design feature, the hand carved canopy.
Here's the illustration from the Estes instructions.
To see them, go to Jim Z's: CLICK HERE

The Star Blazer disappeared in the 1972 catalog. At this time, many of the "S" engine models were being replaced or redesigned for the 13mm "T" engines.

A new Star Blazer appeared in 1973. This one I did buy.
Sleek and more modern, this time with an easier to make card stock canopy. The three fins were now squared off and not glued at a 120 degree spacing.
To see these instructions, CLICK HERE
The catalog number was now TK-31. The "T" engine selection included the 1/4A3-2T, 1/2A3-2T, A3-4Tand A10-3T.

I was going to make a Star Blazer style canopy here on the blog. But those posts became much more involved than I thought. I might submit the posts as an article to the Apogee Peak Of Flight Newsletter.


  1. Hey Chris,
    Wow, that brings back memories. I remember trying to cut, sand and shape the Astron Starblazer canopy from a block of balsa with marginal results. Of course, when you're a kid close is good enough. It was all about the launch, not the build back then. Also remember a ton of free Streaks, Mosquitoes, and Gyrocs from Estes. Lost every single Gyroc: not one straight flight. The design seems prone to windcocking.
    Going off topic, in regards to the Apr. 3 post about the change in instructions for the Starship Nova per John Boren: I was browsing YORF today and came across that same recommendation by Gordy Agnello (Sandman) in a post dated 5/18/14 (Here):
    He says on the next page that the Starship Nova was his first clone, he thinks around 1992. Just giving credit where credit is due.
    As far as the General brand hole puncher, let me guess: Made in China? I'm hoping your MPC X-2 Invader flies stable. Interesting that your Cadet Cruiser was squirelly. My Lunar Shuttle ( same rocket, different wrap) flew straight on a windy day. Didn't want to risk losing an expensive rocket. Maybe the windcocking offset any instability and it flew straight? Cheers!

  2. Hi BAR,
    I think ALL the rotary punches are made in China. The new one just has tapered, sharper tubes. The MPC Cadet Cruiser flew unstable in very low and no wind conditions. I just don't know why, it looks like it should be stable.

    1. I've had vertical launches with my more recent Gyroc. The one I made in the 1970s wasn't as good. Sometimes the vane would flip at boost. My first try wasn't built correctly. The tabs holding the vanes against the extended engine were friction fitted, not tapered and "around" the sides of the casing.

  3. Hi, Chris,
    It's very timely that you posted about the Starblazer rockets. My second ever model rocket build back in 1973 was one of the K-31 kits. By that year, the model was changed to take the 13mm engines, as Estes had stopped producing the shorties. A clone of K-31 has been high on my build list, and just this past week, I have been gathering the parts. Some build posts will likely appear over the next month or so over on my blog.
    I recall that my original was painted all silver with black fins. It was a very good flier, and was eventually lost during a 1975 demo launch in Limon, Colorado.
    By, the way...I really enjoy your blog. It's always one of the top web visits every day. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Edward,
      I just realized I have a TK-31 (revised) Star Blazer in a box upstairs. That might be a good blog build. I still might do a tutorial here on the canopy carving for the first Star Blazer kit.

  4. I liked your article on this hand carved canopy in Peak of Flight. :-)

    1. Thanks Scott!
      Publishing the article came at about the right time to match up with the X-15 blog build.