Then the fins right the Aurora’s trajectory, and the rocket arrows straight up at Mach 1.81. The crew is still silent, but now with awe. It isn’t until the rocket is a tiny speck in the sky that the cheering commences. “Oh my God!” Dan Stroud says. “Holy cow! That is awesome!”
The burn lasts 7.81 seconds, and the rocket doesn’t run out of momentum until reaching 29,985 feet. A handful of amateurs have just sent a homemade object five and a half miles into the atmosphere and retrieved it, no worse for the wear, after a 28-minute flight.
“I’m not comfortable calling what we do a hobby,” says Kimberly Harms of Quilcene, Washington, who has her own crew of high-power rocketeers. “A hobby is fun. Well, we don’t come out here in 110-degree heat to fly rockets just for fun. This is a mission.”