Can true spirit ever be ever be squashed? 17 year old Hrithik Soni’s answer is a resounding no! Read his inspirational journey into model rocketry filled with hits and misses in equal measure!
Around 20 km from the capital city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, there is a city called Gonda and in that city, there is a boy amongst the 34.33 lakh people that live there, for whom the sky is not the limit, literarily. Meet Hrithik Soni, a 17-year-old amateur model rocket enthusiast who is undeterred in his journey of model rocketry. Studying in the 11th std at Impulse International School, model rocketry is more than just a hobby for him. He has an active Youtube channel where he gives updates on the various experiments he does. What makes him a boy wonder is his ability to adapt to the situation around him and overcome lack of resources by sheer creativity. We tip our hats to him.
Here, he shares with us his journey into model rocketry and his trials and tribulations while on that journey.
I still remember the day when I decided to get in hobby rocketry. I was in 6th grade at the time and very influenced by the missile man of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Plus it also helped that I had a lot of interest in space science. And so I started making my first model rocket, but it was not easy for me as I was very green in this field with no experience and knowledge. I started searching online and I found several ways to make a rocket from scratch. But still, it was not easy for me as I lacked the resources. However, after several weeks of hard work and focus, I successfully made my first model rocket from an electrical PVC pipe. Now, all that I needed was the fuel to make it fly.
At first, I decided to use black powder motor but getting a black powder motor is not easy, so I went online and started searching for ways to make a homemade rocket motor and found a YouTube channel named “King of Random”. Here, they had videos on making a rocket motor from sugars. Filled with positive enthusiasm, I started to build the rocket motor. But this motor used Potassium Nitrate as an oxidizer and it’s not easily available in my locality. So, I started wondering if one could make potassium nitrate at home. I found a YouTube channel named “Codys Lab”, where I found a video teaching us to make Potassium Nitrate from urine and fly ash. I tried it and after finally three months of trying and retrying, I got it. However, the Potassium Nitrate was too impure for use, so ultimately I had to look for commercially available Potassium Nitrate. I found it in a shop at 20 rupees per 100
grams. To arrange for the money required, I used to make rocket bodies and sell them at 30 rupees in my locality. With enough money from the sales, I could purchase the Potassium Nitrate and I made a lot of motors.
I made around 60 rocket motors out of which 52 failed at liftoff. But my will was strong and I went on trying. After several hundreds of attempts, I finally achieved it, my first successful model rocket motor. After that, I thought to build a larger rocket and started working on it. Within a week I made my first 5 ft rocket and its motor but when it was put to test, it failed.
I felt really bad about the failure but I was not going to stop. I knew that I needed some guidance and improvements to the design. During the search for guidance, I found a model rocket enthusiast Gary Hooper, who makes and flies model rockets that go up to several thousand feet. He guided me towards the right way to pursue amateur rocketry and it helped me a lot. Now, I can make several types of fuel mixtures like KNDX, KNSU, AND KNSB, KN ERYTHRITOL, EPOXY-APCP based propellants.
I tried again to make an amateur rocket in 2018 and by hard work and luck, it was able to. Happy with the results, I also took it to the National Science Exhibition and presented it.
This rocket can reach heights of around 3000 ft – 4000 ft and is powered by a J700 sugar KNDX motor. It has a 55 inches hexagonal parachute for recovery and the ejection charge is crimson powder. I tested the J700 motor, but it failed due to detachment of nozzle. I have posted a video of that test on my youtube channel named BHARAT INDUSTRIES.
More recently, I got in contact with the famous Indian rocketry group, Rocketeers and had a really good time discussing model rockets with them…
Now I’m planning to make a model rocket that can go higher than before, and this will be the beginning of my entry into amateur rocketry in India.