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FIRE & SMOKE!     Waving USA Flag 2 - Animated

October 2017


Artwork by Blake Driskill



Core systems transferring control to Viper fighter, launch when ready."


John Boren's upscale BSG Viper flies again on a composite F engine!


A September Halloween Launch???



You aren't usually thinking of Halloween in mid-September but Trick or Treat came early for Malcolm Jennings in the form of one massive trick!

In the photo above we see his very nice V-2 as it lifts off on a Pro 38 J-285.


No, the nose cone should not be coming off as the rocket begins to move.



And we definitely should not be seeing the casing ejecting like a bad warp core.

But... it is one of the most amazing CATO shots I've ever seen!

CATO: Catastrophe at take off


Oooo there go the fins... and no chute! Talk about picking up the pieces of your shattered life!

Pete Barrett caught this amazing sequence at the Midland Sky launch (U.K.) last month and he tells us the failure was due to the engine being a 38mm using a 54mm adapter.

It appeared the adapter broke causing it to piston through the interior of the rocket which caused the nc to come off prematurely. The engine snagged the 54mm mount, ripping out the bulkhead and crushing the boat tail. The engine cleared the bt and made it to about 100 feet before what was left came in ballistic.

On the down side, we can certainly understand Malcolm's horror as he watched the V-2 go down in flames. On the up side, Pete got a great series of shots of the V-2's demise!

One of these photos will surely be part of Pete's 2018 rocket calendar.

We just hope Malcom will try again so we can bring you a better outcome.

If you fly this month, don't get tricked.



Looking for something entertaining and fun to read?


Even the aliens can't resist Captain Starr!

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:



Prefer Paperback? No Problem!

Signed / personalized paperback copies of Rocket Babe - Dust Storm, Rocket Babe - Fallen Angel and Rocket Babe - Ant Men are all now 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

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 3 books for $32.00 includes shipping within the continental U.S.! Saves over $9 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.

Verna will reply with how to send in your money order. Sorry, money orders only.

If you have any questions PLEASE email us:





Comes stock to fly on a single D.
Ours is a 3 engine cluster. D12 core with C6 outboards!

We love the Cestris!


We are always looking for great rockets and launch photos for Verna's Photo Of The Month.
If you have a great photo send it in and you might be featured as the Photo Of The Month. Just email your best jif or jpeg to



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!



Halloween In Space - Macabre


Being born in 1956 and with a father who was Chief Engineer for a NASA contractor, I grew up dead in the middle of the Space Race. It wasn't just on TV it was in my house! I was also fortunate enough to have teachers that made it possible for their students to see every televised launch and from that, grew a deep love for all things space related good or bad, fiction or real.

There were many highs for the U.S. and the Soviet programs but there were also some lows. The U.S. reported the good and bad but the Russians, not so much. When things didn't go so well for the Soviets it was covered up and even after 57+ years the world still doesn't know the complete truth about lost cosmonauts.

Of course, it's hard to keep anything under wraps forever. With listening posts all over the world some transmissions have been intercepted and over the years bits and pieces have been leaked. Several Russian missions ended in disaster with men and women being lost without official acknowledgment.

Since the early 60's there have been stories in many publications from Reader's Digest and local newspapers to the National Inquirer of cosmonauts tragically lost on the ground and in space but most have never been officially acknowledged by the Russians.

One of the first reports I heard as a kid (1965) was about two Russian cosmonauts who missed their target and ended up in an ever expanding orbit around earth. If that did happen eventually they would have returned to Earth with a boom but long after they had suffocated in space.


Then there are the now famous Cordiglia brothers who built their own tracking station in Italy to listen in on the Americans and Russians. They claimed to have intercepted transmissions from doomed cosmonauts 3 separate times from November 1960 through May of 1961.

The first message they received was in Morse code as a SOS to the entire world. Just a short time later the Russians admitted to a failed launch but nothing was mentioned about it being a manned mission. If you know manned space flight history you know the incident would have been before Yuri Gagarin's "official flight."

The second incident the brothers claimed to have heard was the sound of a rapidly beating heart and labored breathing that they attributed to a dying cosmonaut. Of course the cosmonaut would have needed to be keying the mike at the time for them to hear breathing but I'm not sure how they could have heard a heartbeat.

On their third interception the transmission appeared to be from two men and a woman who were heard in Russian. "Conditions growing worse; why don't you answer? We are going slower, the world will never know about us."


One of several incidents I have seen posted to YouTube is a short message from a female saying, "It's getting hot." Which implies her capsule was burning up during reentry.

To this point the incidents listed above have not been officially confirmed but there have been tragedies released by the Soviets.

Valentin Bondarenko died March 23, 1961, three weeks before Gagarin's flight after a fire in an oxygen-rich pressure chamber used for training.

Vladimir Komarov, killed in 1967 when the chute of his Soyuz 1 spacecraft failed.

If you want to read or see more, there are many articles like these on the internet and YouTube about intercepted transmissions from doomed cosmonauts. Check them out and decide for yourself which are real and which are just good Halloween stories.







Bones says...

"BOO! The candy corn is mine!"


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!


Elvira and Gonk never miss Fire & Smoke!


Who do you fly with? Fly with family!




Graphics by Doc's Patriotic Graphics

Thanks for stopping by! Check back soon for a new feature on FIRE & SMOKE!
Verna & Randy

*Don't miss Verna's Photo of the Month


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