Apollo 50th Anniversary
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The Road to Apollo

In August 1959, without computers and before the Kennedy Space Center even existed, a few good men and women set out to qualify various solutions to the myriad of problems associated with the development of manned space flight. Human ‘computers’ made manual calculations with a slide rule and ignition sequences were developed on mechanical timers. This effort originally dubbed Project Mercury, eventually evolved into the Apollo Program.  After a full decade, the imagination, innovation and sheer tenacity of over 400,000 people created the opportunity for a man to walk on the moon.

Fifty years later, Americans will come together to celebrate that awe-inspiring historic event. On July 20, 2019 we can all remember or imagine what it was like to be an American during the original Space Race. When as one united nation we watched our countrymen and women work relentlessly as they thought up, designed, failed and eventually accomplished the herculean task of landing a spacecraft on the moon and returning its crew safely back to earth. 

Estes Rockets paid homage to Nasa’s success in the Apollo program by creating remarkable replicas of the test vehicles used during this time. We designed each scale rocket off the original as our research and product development team worked diligently to create sketches, mechanical drawings, parts, prototypes, and tooling to deliver a final, flying model rocket which is a work of art worthy for display. 

This is the road to Apollo.

A pioneer spacecraft in a historic endeavor, the Little Joe I was one of the first operational launch vehicles to use the rocket cluster principle. The primary purpose of this relatively small and simple booster system was to test the aerodynamics of the Project Mercury space capsule and ensure our Astronauts could escape from an explosion at or during launch. The Little Joe ended up being a series of five, with a total of six successful launches. Almost 60 years later, Estes developed our own Little Joe I  (1:100 scale) off the LJ-5, the very rocket that qualified the Mercury capsule and moved it from R&D to operational mode.

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Before a man can walk on the moon, he first needs to be in orbit. It took seven years, seven men and $277MM ($2.3B in today’s dollars) to make that first step a reality. The astronauts that took part in this epic event are forever remembered as the “Mercury Seven”. Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the USA consisted of 20 unmanned flights and six successful manned flights from 1959 to 1967. The first attempt lasting a whopping two seconds and achieved a mere four inches in height, which can only showcase the age old saying — if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Gus Grissom flew in the second manned spacecraft, nicknamed the Liberty Bell 7, which is the vehicle we based our Estes model on.

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Sometimes bigger is better. The Mercury-Atlas launch vehicle, a subset of Project Mercury was 94.3 ft tall, 10 ft wide and weighed in almost 200K lbs heavier than its predecessors in the Mercury Redstone series. The extra brawn enabled the Atlas to be the only launch vehicle in the US arsenal that could put a spacecraft into orbit. The first four launches were unmanned, the 5th carried Enos, the first chimpanzee ever launched into an actual earth orbit which led to the remaining four, manned, launches. The US met its goal for putting a man into orbit on February 20, 1962, when John Glenn made three orbits around the Earth in the Mercury- Atlas 6.

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Circling the Moon and landing on it are two very separate things. Enter Project Gemini, the very project that put the US in the lead during the Cold War Space Race. Gemini’s objective was the development of the space travel techniques to support the ability to LAND a spacecraft on the Moon. It performed missions long enough to simulate a trip to the Moon and back, perfected the ability to work outside the spacecraft, and pioneered the orbital maneuvers necessary to achieve space rendezvous and docking. Without these two new techniques mastered, Neil Armstrong would never have been able to have taken that iconic first step.

View Rocket >>

A pioneer spacecraft in a historic endeavor, the Little Joe I was one of the first operational launch vehicles to use the rocket cluster principle. The primary purpose of this relatively small and simple booster system was to test the aerodynamics of the Project Mercury space capsule and ensure our Astronauts could escape from an explosion at or during launch. The Little Joe ended up being a series of five, with a total of six successful launches. Almost 60 years later, Estes developed our own Little Joe I  (1:100 scale) off the LJ-5, the very rocket that qualified the Mercury capsule and moved it from R&D to operational mode.

View Rocket >>

With questions answered and problems solved by the original test vehicles, NASA, and the world, was (almost) ready for the Saturn V, the very rocket that made the landing on the Moon possible. In anticipation of the Saturn V, NASA requested an interim launch test vehicle to further test and retest curtain situations while the Saturn V was being developed. The Saturn IB (pronounced one B) was built to allow flight testing for an entire year before the Saturn V was ready.

View Rocket >>

“We choose to go to the Moon . . . not because [it’s] easy, but because [it’s] hard . . . because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept . . . and one we intend to win.” said JFK in 1962. In July of 1969, JFK’s goal was fulfilled when America completed that challenge and the Apollo 11 landed safely on the moon. And when Neil Armstrong made that first step, he did not just make history. He showed the world that if we put our minds to something and face a challenge head on, we can achieve anything. Estes’ Saturn V scale models are masterfully crafted from the Apollo 11 with exceptional detail to capture the monumental achievement of this magnificent vehicle.

View Rocket >>

Little Joe I

A pioneer spacecraft in a historic endeavor, the Little Joe I was one of the first operational launch vehicles to use the rocket cluster principle. The primary purpose of this relatively small and simple booster system was to test the aerodynamics of the Project Mercury space capsule and ensure our Astronauts could escape from an explosion at or during launch. The Little Joe ended up being a series of five, with a total of six successful launches. Almost 60 years later, Estes developed our own Little Joe I  (1:100 scale) off the LJ-5, the very rocket that qualified the Mercury capsule and moved it from R&D to operational mode.
Little Joe I Rocket
Mercury Redstone Rocket

Mercury Redstone

Before a man can walk on the moon, he first needs to be in orbit. It took seven years, seven men and $277MM ($2.3B in today’s dollars) to make that first step a reality. The astronauts that took part in this epic event are forever remembered as the “Mercury Seven”. Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the USA consisted of 20 unmanned flights and six successful manned flights from 1959 to 1967. The first attempt lasting a whopping two seconds and achieved a mere four inches in height, which can only showcase the age old saying — if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Gus Grissom flew in the second manned spacecraft, nicknamed the Liberty Bell 7, which is the vehicle we based our Estes model on.

View Rocket >>

Mercury Atlas

Sometimes bigger is better. The Mercury-Atlas launch vehicle, a subset of Project Mercury was 94.3 ft tall, 10 ft wide and weighed in almost 200K lbs heavier than its predecessors in the Mercury Redstone series. The extra brawn enabled the Atlas to be the only launch vehicle in the US arsenal that could put a spacecraft into orbit. The first four launches were unmanned, the 5th carried Enos, the first chimpanzee ever launched into an actual earth orbit which led to the remaining four, manned, launches. The US met its goal for putting a man into orbit on February 20, 1962, when John Glenn made three orbits around the Earth in the Mercury- Atlas 6.

View Rocket >>

Atlas Rocket
Gemini Rocket

Gemini

Circling the Moon and landing on it are two very separate things. Enter Project Gemini, the very project that put the US in the lead during the Cold War Space Race. Gemini’s objective was the development of the space travel techniques to support the ability to LAND a spacecraft on the Moon. It performed missions long enough to simulate a trip to the Moon and back, perfected the ability to work outside the spacecraft, and pioneered the orbital maneuvers necessary to achieve space rendezvous and docking. Without these two new techniques mastered, Neil Armstrong would never have been able to have taken that iconic first step.

View Rocket >>

Little Joe II

Sometimes bigger may be better, however, a small package can still pack a hefty punch. The Little Joe II, the smallest of the four launch rockets used in the Apollo program helped to protect the lives of the Astronauts who were willing to risk theirs to win this unprecedented race. Little Joe II was developed as a test vehicle to verify the performance of the Apollo’s parachute recovery system in the event a catastrophic situation occurred, resulting in the need for a mid-flight abort.

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Little Joe II Rocket
Saturn 1B Rocket

Saturn 1B

With questions answered and problems solved by the original test vehicles, NASA, and the world, was (almost) ready for the Saturn V, the very rocket that made the landing on the Moon possible. In anticipation of the Saturn V, NASA requested an interim launch test vehicle to further test and retest curtain situations while the Saturn V was being developed. The Saturn IB (pronounced one B) was built to allow flight testing for an entire year before the Saturn V was ready.

View Rocket >>

Saturn V

“We choose to go to the Moon . . . not because [it’s] easy, but because [it’s] hard . . . because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept . . . and one we intend to win.” said JFK in 1962. In July 1969, JFK’s goal was fulfilled when America completed that challenge and the Apollo 11 landed safely on the moon. When Neil Armstrong made that first step, he did not just make history; he showed the world that if we put our minds to something and face a challenge head on we can achieve anything. Estes’ Saturn V scale models are masterfully crafted from the Apollo 11 with exceptional detail to capture the monumental achievement of this magnificent vehicle.

View Rocket >>

Grand Prize

Photo Contest

We’re having a photo contest to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing!

Join in on the worldwide celebration of the awe-inspiring launch by launching your own rocket. All types of rockets will do and no launch is too small. To enter, snap a photo of you (or a family member or friend) launching a rocket and submit it to us using the button below for a chance to win!

One grand prize winner will receive four realistic and artistic model kits from our Apollo Program Scale Series. Two runner-ups will receive a limited edition, super-detailed, ready to fly Saturn V 1:200 scale kit. All prizes include launch set, controller, engines and accessories required to fly. Winners will be chosen at random.

Enter by July 19th, 2019 for a shot to win!

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