Saturday, June 24, 2017

Delay in the Estes Starship Nova Release?

Estes has had the Starship Nova shown on the Coming Soon page since March.
It seems this kit release has taken longer than normal.

A thread on YORF (CLICK HERE) might explain the delay. Go to Page 4.
Bob Sanford received an early release of the Estes Starship Nova kit -

Bernard Cawley posted:
"But if you look in Bob's second picture there you can see that the main body tube looks a little odd. Apparently there was some kind of miscommunication with the supplier and the BT-50 in the kits that are in the warehouse in Penrose don't have a glassine layer. may be a bit yet before the kits get distributed."

John Boren (of Estes) added:
"The first production run of this kit will in fact have tubes without glassine on them. The cost and time needed to get new tubes to China would stretch the release of this kit into at least first quarter of next year."

My thoughts:
It's not a big deal to buy a replacement BT-50 tube. The old kit instructions (CLICK HERE) say it is a BT-50K at 15" long. 
If it were me, I'd buy a replacement BT-50H (heavier wall BT-50) before buying a kit with a no glassine layer tube. (See comment responses below - go with the BalsaMachining T50H-34 tube). BT-50 tubes are thin enough already and prone to buckles on a hard landing. Without that glassine layer, the tubes in the first run of the Starship Nova kits will be even thinner than normal. That thin plastic layer seals the tube and adds a lot of strength. Rough tubes can also suck up more paint.
I'm not complaining about a kit release taking some time. The Pigasus and F-16 kits took a year from initial drawings to the first kit sold. Stuff happens and you want it to be right!


  1. Chris, Would a couple wraps of paper around a normal BT50 tube do the trick? I ask as I'm not having luck finding BT50H tubes.

    Or, would you mind posting a link for a suitable BT50H tube?

    1. Hi Scott,
      A paper wrap could be a mess and end up too thick. The glassine wrap is very thin but adds a lot of strength.

      Go to
      At the top, "Kits & Bldg. Supplies"
      At that pull down, click on "Low Power Body Tubes & Couplers"
      Scroll down to "Body Tubes and Couplers"
      Scroll down to -
      T50H-34 . 990 x.950 x.020 x 34" Heavy Wall $2.25

      It's a LONG tube and requires a long shipping box. Save the leftover tube for the next time you have a kit with a thin BT-50.

  2. Balsa Machining had theirs. It's diameter is .014 larger than Estes, due to a thicker wall, which could make a difference.

    1. Hi Metal,
      The inside diameter is still the same, the outside diameter is a little wider. It won't effect the fit of 20/50 centering rings or nose cone. On most models it actually fits the nose cone shoulder ridge better.

    2. Thanks for the clarification Chris. I don't have experience with these tubes, which is why I have the warning. It's good to know that they will work, should I ever need something this small. :)

  3. Scott, erockets has the Semroc BTH-50 at 8" or the Totally Tubular T-50MF at 34". I would buy the TT tube rather than two Semroc tubes and a coupler. You can save the excess for another build. They both are designed with a metal foil lining since they were meant to be used for motor mounts for 24mm motors. Same ID as a regular BT-50 but slightly larger OD (0.992").
    While you're there check out the Starship Nova fin set and centering ring set ( under Parts from Semroc). It made things much easier when I decided to do a clone a couple of months ago. Got the droop nose from Sirius Rocketry in their Moldin' Oldies parts section. Home printed the decals from the old plans. I used a regular BT-50 though, not the heavier wall tube.
    So, I have my Starship Nova now instead of next year. Oh, and I incorporated the suggestion by John Boren and Gordon Agnello to cut the intake tube rather than the main body tube as in the original plans. Makes more sense that way, as well as being easier from a build standpoint. Happy cloning!

    1. Hi BAR,
      You don't want the metal lined tube for this LPR rocket. The foil lined tube is meant for hot composite motors. I get my BT-50H or T50H-34 from Balsa Machining. It's the same tube I used on the Odd'l F-16 and Break-Away models.
      I've also thought about doing a clone of the Starship Nova but now will wait for the kit.

  4. Now that I think about it, gluing a motor mount to a foil lined tube could be problematic. A standard BT-50 should be OK. Cheers!

    1. Hi BAR,
      Yep, the foil lined tube could be a problem! See responses above for the right supplier.