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May 2019



"There Has Been An Incident On Praxis…"


First it was the Klingons, now it’s SpaceX.

If you were here last month you may recall my lack of enthusiasm of Vice President Pence’s call for getting to the moon by any means necessary, as he alluded to possible help from the private sector. I’m all for going back to the moon and beyond but after many years now without a man rated NASA vehicle, turning to the private sector seems a little desperate to me and here’s why…

On April 20, 2019, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule experienced an anomaly at Cape Canaveral AFS, during a Dragon 2 static test fire. Fortunately, according to officials at the 45th Space Wing there were no injuries caused when one of the capsule’s 8 engines suffered a malfunction during the test. Beach goers reported large plumes of smoke rising from the area, indicating something had gone wrong.


Of course, test failures are part of the game and anyone that has ever been involved with rocketry at any level has suffered a setback or two during the development process. The thing that irks me is that in order to save a buck politicians of all flavors want to depend on the private sector to keep the U.S. space program limping along rather than boldly roaring into the future. 

In almost any normal function you might mention, i.e. medical, mail, education, etc.  the private sector might well do a better job than the government but when it comes to missiles/rockets no country or private entity has ever come close to matching the American military complex and they’re the ones with decades of experience and $$$ to get us back to the moon but that realization is being ignored. 


Back in 2010, right here on Fire & Smoke, I posted that as the shuttle system prepared to shutdown, the lack of leadership from Bush II and newly elected Obama, and their indication that they believed the private sector was the way to go,  would set us back to 1958 when it came to manned flight and it would be 30 years before the U.S. Space Program was back to where it was January 1, 2010. You see, any entity outside the military complex has to go through the same learning curve NASA went through all those years ago, even when they are handed the lessons learned by NASA along the way. Why? It’s new tech and hardware, simple as that and without the power of tax dollars to fund it, it’s going to take a lot longer than if the previous industrial complex had continued to operate rather than allowed to fade away. 


Basically, the problem has always been political. The men and women at NASA are more than capable and willing but those that hold the purse strings and that should be leading the way in D.C. are to blame; ALL OF THEM and for the last 50 years!


Dragon or Orion, they’re still the new kids on the block and no matter how brilliant they are, they still have to learn the ropes. I hope they learn quickly but we’re 10+ years in now.


Only 20 more to go? 





Looking for something entertaining and fun to read?

If you'd like something entertaining and fun to read, get your copies of the entire Rocket Babe series, paperback or Kindle. Here's how...

Get The Entire Series On Kindle!

Just click the Amazon links below:


Rocket Babe: Reflection


Prefer Paperback? No Problem!

Signed / personalized paperback copies of Rocket Babe - Dust Storm, Rocket Babe - Fallen Angel, Rocket Babe - Ant Men and Rocket Babe - Reflection are all available directly from the author!

Books are great gifts for any occasion! Holidays, birthdays or just because!

Dust Storm $10.00
Fallen Angel $12.00
Ant Men $13.00
Reflection $13.00

Standard book rate shipping: $4 for 1st book; $1 for each additional book per address in the same order. Please allow 7-10 days for shipping, longer during the holidays.

*Special "Set" pricing! Get all 4 books for $46.00 includes shipping within the continental U.S.! Saves over $10 off the regular price and shipping!

*Shipping outside the USA available. Contact us for a postage quote before placing your order.


Send your email order to Verna at: with BOOK as the subject.

List each dedication separately and clearly. Be sure to include the full shipping address.

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If you have any questions PLEASE email us:


Above you see a rare photo of Dave Miller, appropriately dressed in black as owner of the clandestine black ops organization known as Sirius Rocketry! What does he do in his spare time? He reads Rocket Babe, what else?

That's a nice looking Cestris Fighter he's holding too! Get yours from


Verna Starr Cestris Fighter!


This is our favorite Sirius kit, the Cestris. The kit is intended to fly on a single engine but it was easily modified to a 3 engine cluster complete with Verna Starr fighter decals, also available from Sirius.



Just click the BLUE link below the banner!




T-Minus July 16th And Counting


Estes 1/100 single engine.

You may not see or hear them but all over the country rocketeers are building and refurbishing their Saturn V’s in anticipation of a commemorative Apollo 11 launch this coming July. As of the day of this post they have 77 days to get their rockets ready.

If you still haven’t gotten started on yours it’s not too late but if it were me, I’d get on it. Building a Saturn V is a great experience no matter which kit you use or going from scratch and you don’t want to rush through it, especially if you’re building one for the first time. But since July is coming up fast it’s past time to get moving.


Estes 1/100 5 engine cluster

If you’re not going to scratch build, which kit to use and how to power it will be your biggest decisions. Estes has 2 available at the moment, the traditional 1/100th scale and a 1/200 scale ready to fly. For those with deeper pockets and who like a higher skill level, Sirius Rocketry has what I think is the best HPR kit and value with their 1/64 scale Saturn V but note that it is a limited production item.


Sirius 1/64 scale.

Once you have your kit/parts on hand it’s time to get down to the biggest decision for most Saturn V flyers; power. Do you go single engine or cluster? Single stage or more? Our response is always “why not build several versions and power them for different uses?”

Even though we’ve clustered several, including 3 stages with 11 engines, we still get a kick out of the Estes 1/100 stock build with a single D12-3 engine. The simple D12 allows for a very realistic, slow lift off and can easily be flown on a small field. They’re great for flying at school and scout demo’s. You can see, smell, hear and sometimes taste everything. Yes, if the BP exhaust gets up your nose, you can taste it.  Just make sure the wind is below 7 mph and you’re fine. No guts, no glory.


Estes 1/200 scale

Of course, you always have the Tim The Tool Man Taylor power freaks that think every rocket should reach 10,000 feet in under 2 seconds. That’s great for 3 fins and a cone but when you’re flying a Saturn V, super fast, defeats the whole purpose of the kit. Do you really want to spend hours and hours with meticulous details just to have it launch so fast it can’t be seen? Your choice, not mine.

Regardless of what you build or how you power it you better get going. The countdown clock is on and there won’t be any, holds, on this one.




She'll go with you anywhere! Kevin, owner and moderator at the Alien Soup  sci-fi forum, enjoys Rocket Babe - Dust Storm between innings at a recent ballgame!


Visit Kevin at Alien Soup and tell him Verna sent you!





Bones says...

"Incident / Anomaly... indeed!"


Verna & Randy's Rockets is proud to have been featured by:


Darrell Mobley's Website Review on Rocketry Planet


Dick Stafford's The Original Rocket Dungeon


Apogee E-Zine Peak Of Flight issue #155


April 2006  Finishing Touches
And Virally In Ezines Like:
Hobby Media Italy


You never know who will show up on Fire & Smoke!


Brigadier, Kerla never misses Fire & Smoke!


Who do you fly with? Fly with family!




Graphics by Doc's Patriotic Graphics

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Verna & Randy

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