A whatta to wha? What do I mean by a ladder to space? Am I going to try to build the World’s Largest Structure Ever Conceived by Man?
DTH Rocket Endeavors’ Ladder to Space – noun: A metaphorical ladder consisting of certain steps I must take in different seasons of life to get to the point where I have the ability to build spacecraft and other Vehicles of Wonder.
As far as I can see, this ladder has 5 rungs:
1) Model rocketry
2) High-power rocketry
4) Either get a job or start a privately funded aerospace research company, eventually augmenting the resources for step 5
5) Build a spaceship
Model rocketry is now pretty much where my foot is on the ladder. As I reach for higher rungs, it is what I learned in the basics of model rocketry that gives me the foundation I need for more complicated topics.
Model rockets are small, lightweight rockets propelled by commercially-manufactured, NAR-certified motors under 160 Newton-seconds (35 pound-seconds) of total impulse (that probably doesn't mean anything to you, but it equates to a type "G" motor). On the low end of the spectrum, model rockets are typically made from a paper tube, balsa wood fins, a plastic nosecone, and are propelled by black powder propellants. On the large end of the spectrum they are usually powered by ammonium perchlorate composite propellants, which is what NASA uses to power the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters!
Step Two: High-Power Rocketry
This step will probably stick with me for the rest of my life, because it ranges from rockets slightly larger than the ones I'm building now to behemoth monsters that are as tall as some model rockets can fly (That might be a slight exaggeration)! There are three levels of high-power rocketry, but I like to think of it as four, because beyond level three you have to build your own motors. Each level is defined by the impulse of the motors.
Level 1: H - I motors
Level 2: J - L motors
Level 3: M - O motors
Level 4: Research rocketry - Scratch built rocket motors up to size "T." That's 131,072 times the impulse of the largest model rocket motor!
Step Three: College
Outer space, what can be found there, and the method of getting there are such complex subjects that this is very well the most important step. I hope to study aerospace engineering.
Step Four: Engineer
There are zillions of things I could do in this step. I could either get a job with a pre-existing aerospace company, or I could start one. I could build experimental research rockets, join the air force as and aerospace engineer, or anything else that would give me valuable experience and consolidate my resources.
Step Five: Outer Space
Uh... Why would I devote my entire life to this? The answer is surprisingly simple: I am fascinated by it. I want to go there. And it's not just outer space that fascinates me, it's the vehicle to get there!