HERE ARE YOUR SATURN V RELAUNCH UPDATES FOR WINTER 2014:
1. WE FOUND THE ROCKET
Let me back up here. If you read update #26 you know that we snuck back to the original site and had a flawless launch. What you probably don’t know is that after 3 hours of searching thru dense underbrush, we couldn’t find the Saturn V.II. This was back in October and my next chance to be up in Binghamton was over the holidays. So on Christmas day 2013, my brother-in-law Mike Roeder (a golf professional from Rochester, NY) and I, returned to the area. This time we searched thru snow but not thru foliage. Mike found the first stage tangled in some pricker bushes a few feet off the ground. The nose cone was about 100 ft. north on the edge of the parking area, only a few feet from where I was almost arrested 6 months previous.
Lesson: Always bring a golf pro with you when you are looking for anything in the woods.
Despite the fact that the rocket was out in the elements for 3 months (was water logged and was home to a field mouse), it is in pretty good shape.
2. WE HAVE A ROUGH EDIT FOR THE DOCUMENTARY VIDEO
An original score is being developed by composer Shea Lynch. No dates yet but the video will wrap before the book.
3. THE FINAL EDIT FOR THE BOOK IS UNDERWAY
We are doing a final edit of the more than 400 images we shot of the attempted relaunch, the relaunch and re-relaunch (and recovery). Then it’s on to South Korea for printing. Again, no dates yet. Stay tuned for further updates.
Years from now, when my boys are looking thru a copy of the book—that many of you have been patiently waiting for since last October—they’ll ask how long dad’s Kickstarter took. Then I can say without exaggerating: "YEARS."
Thanks for your patience and continuing support.
Editing the images
Get off my rocket!
3:08 pm • 20 March 2014 • 4 notes
We Did It
Helen Walters (a backer) travelled from Brooklyn to Binghamton for the relaunch in August and wrote about it here.
If you read ‘til the end you’ll find that i didn’t leave it to the authorities. In October 2013 I returned with my family and a repaired V.II and launched from the original spot. Well, i suppose we re-re-relaunched.
I’ve attached a quick clip. if you’re wondering what that weird spot is…its mold on the camera lens!
The video (all shot 8mm on old cameras with equally old film) and book are progressing nicely. I will post an update when i have firm release dates.
P.S. After searching for 3+ hours we couldn’t find the rocket. I guess it’s still up there.
3:06 pm • 20 March 2014 • 2 notes
Saturn V Relaunch Recap: 2013 is not 1973
It’s been a few weeks since the relaunch.* I had to let some time pass before writing this postmortem—not to create an artificial sense of suspense about the outcome as some of you suspect—but rather because I needed to make some sense of what went down. And I mean that literally.
*If you are new to this blog, you might consider clicking on ‘ABOUT’ on the nav bar to the left for a project synopsis.
The rocket in Mom’s backyard (photo: Michael Northrup)
Now that it’s over, I can’t help but feel ambivalent about the outcome. For me, the relaunch didn’t end up being about my dad or my boys or even about a specific memory in quite the way I expected. It did however end up being a subtle form of time travel. Only instead of traveling backwards, I almost feel like a naive 8 year-old who got into a time machine in 1973 and was surprised by what he found when he stepped out.
In other words 2013 is not 1973.
While this might seem obvious going in, especially for someone who lives and works in a post 9/11 New York City and who is pushing 50, I have to say it caught me completely by surprise. Of all of the outcomes I envisioned when I set out on my ‘dad do-over,’ I didn’t expect to be left with a new understanding for how my hometown/country/world has changed. That the harmless act of launching a toy rocket would reveal paranoia and distrust that was not there when I was growing up.
Eli after a successful test the morning of the launch (photo: Michael Northrup)
It is not an exaggeration to say that we were harassed pretty much everywhere we went in the Binghamton area that weekend. In total, we had 2 run-ins with the police. The first was at the designated launch site (yes, it was on private property and we didn’t have permission to be there) but the second was at a public park. At a third location (another park) no squad cars showed up, but we were asked to leave by none other than the town supervisor of Kirkwood, NY (population 5,857). Photographer Michael Northrup was even hassled by a shop owner in another part of town when he pulled into a strip mall and tried to take a picture of the 20-foot rocket on the sign out front.
He took the photo anyway (photo: Michael Northrup)
But please don’t get the impression that the relaunch wasn’t carefully planned. It was. I thought of little else while I sat hour after hour gluing and sanding in my Manhattan studio. The trouble was that I apparently left some of the details to my inner 8 year-old.
The launch was scheduled for Saturday evening August 3rd in an enormous parking area in the back of my dad’s former place of employment that as far as I could tell, hasn’t been used for years. Grass grew from cracks in the asphalt, lines from long ago parking spots barely visible. This area was near the spot in 1973 that dad had brought us to watch the launch of his Saturn V. I say near because the exact location was about 200 feet away in the middle of some very large trees that weren’t there 40 years ago. The parking lot was a bit of a compromise position to begin with, but it seemed to me to be the more responsible place to launch a model rocket.
Empty! (photo: Michael Northrup)
The plan was to use the parking lot on a day and time when no one would be there (end of the day on a weekend), the way we would play street hockey as kids. Avoid business hours and you were golden.
The weather was my major concern leading into the weekend. Rain and model rockets don’t mix and hotel rooms, bus tickets, camera rentals and equipment had to be brought up from the city. In addition to Michael, who was driving from Baltimore, I had two videographers and two assistants coming up as well. When we arrived on the evening of the 3rd, the sun was shining and the place was totally empty.
Jason Fulford of Scranton PA (photo: Michael Northrup)
To my mind, even if not on the actual spot, we had to launch at my dad’s work. I decided early on not to contact the company to get permission, figuring that there was a good chance the launch wouldn’t happen thru official channels. Perhaps a mistake in hindsight, but I figured we would have a better chance if we just showed up and did it. If anyone asked what we were doing, I was sure that once I explained why we were there—to honor my deceased father Ken Sahre, who worked for this company for 30 years—we would be fine. After all, how could an aeronautics company object to a model rocket launch if family and friends had already gathered? If that didn’t work, I figured I’d simply speed things up and launch the rocket before any police showed up.
You know what? I just remembered something. I worked at the Singer Link Company (now L3 Link Simulation)! My dad got me a job in the mailroom while I was home from college one summer. 1984 I think.
Anyway, as spectators began to arrive a security guard walked out to see what was going on. After explaining what we were doing, I was asked to leave the premises. He was just doing his job. After I told him we’d be out of there right after the launch, he retreated into the building to call for back up. Time for plan B: HURRY! But there was a problem with plan B: The typography.
I work with type everyday. I love type. I loved my dad. Therefore I wasn’t going to do this thing without involving typography somehow. What I had envisioned was my rocket rising majestically off of dad’s launch pad from the middle of a ring of type reading “Try Try Again.” After all, it was the project mantra. It would be concrete poetry in concrete (well asphalt but close enough).
Accessories: Erik, Luca and James Victore (photo: Michael Northrup)
(photo: Marine Benz)
Ok, I knew that painting on a parking lot would send up a red flag but we were using children’s tempera paint. It’s water soluble right? A few rainy days and it would be gone. And I can tell you, there are a lot of rainy days in Binghamton. You should have seen the expression on the guard’s face when I told him that. Local law enforcement has no sense of humor.
Setting up the rocket (photo: Kris Northrup)
The type did us in. My assistants Erik and Marine were finishing the temporary vandalism and I was frantically setting up the rocket when two New York Sate Highway patrol cars pulled up. By the time they arrived the gathering of family, friends and Kickstarter backers had swelled to more than 40 people.
Try Try Again w/officer (photo: Jason Fulford)
Again I explained the situation; the troopers—who I’m sure, had better things to do—even tried to broker a deal with the company to allow me to launch. As phone calls were made, and despite feeling incredibly silly at all of the fuss this was causing, I continued to prepare the rocket. I was eventually informed that while the company would not press charges, we had to leave the premises. No launch. At that point launching the rocket would have only taken a few minutes and then everyone would leave anyway. So it was really about stoping the launch. A toy rocket was dangerous somehow.
I should have mentioned that I was a former employee. I’m sure that would have made all the difference.
My nephews Matthew and Christopher Roeder keeping an eye out. (8mm film still: Joe Hollier)
When I persisted, things escalated. As we stood in the type circle, one of the officers grabbed my arm the other grabbed the rocket. Cameras were everywhere and it was clear that if I didn’t stop I would have my very own “don’t taze me bro!” moment. I mean this had to be the most well documented launch in the history of model rocketry; my videographer Joe Hollier was probably getting all of this on super 8 I thought. I gave up.
Harry with patrol car in the background (photo: Marine Benz)
(photo: Harry Sahre)
As we were packing everything up and prepared to leave, one of my boys jumped into my arms and gave me a high five. “Hey! Daddy didn’t get arrested!” I was going for memorable, so in that sense, mission accomplished!
In retrospect the officers showed an amazing amount of patience, all things considered.
Lupos Spiedies (photo: me)
Regrouping at Mom’s. Erik, Santiago, Marine and Joe (photo: Michael Northrup)
My brothers bowling trophies (photo Michael Northrup)
The next day my family and crew regrouped at a public park. In between thunderstorms we launched the Saturn V.II from a pitchers mound. We were missing my nephews and brother-in-law who had to head home to Rochester and my brother Greg (who remembers the 1973 launch as fondly as I do) was so freaked out about what happened the day before that he avoided the re-relaunch entirely. I felt awful about this, but the reality of the situation was the cameras were there. Funds were dwindling. We were committed. The dangers of messing with something private in such a public way I thought. I would have to make it up to my brother later.
Walking to the alternate launch site (photo: Michael Northrup)
(photo: Michael Northrup)
Joe with the super 8 (photo: Marine Benz)
My boys carried the rocket to the launch pad while side B from Rossini’s William Tell Overture played on a portable turntable. We counted down and my mom pushed the button. The rocket soared for a brief moment but at about 30 feet it veered suddenly, did a backflip, and almost hit my sister’s car as it crashed to the ground. It lay there sputtering for a few seconds until the ejection charge popped off the second stage, deploying the chutes. An examination of the damaged tail section revealed the real culprit for the crash: one of the three engines failed to ignite, making the rocket unstable. Two tail fins were damaged and it could not be flown again that day. It immediately started raining again anyway and this is when the aforementioned town supervisor pulled up. Everything had come full circle. The whole thing was beautiful in a totally pathetic, anti-climatic sort of way. I certainly don’t expect to forget the smiles on everyone’s faces or my mom yelling “oh that did NOT go up 500 feet!” any time soon.
Full circle (photo: Kris northrup)
Erik with one of the fairings (photo Marine Benz)
But I also come away from this with a slightly different understanding of the “If you see something, say something” world we live in. It’s not just the big city that has changed; the small town has changed as well. In 1973, a rocket represented exploration and possibility. In 2013, a rocket means something very different.
I set out last fall on a tongue-in-cheek “attempt at dad redemption” and “to right a family wrong.” I’ve even joked in a couple of recent lectures, “who knows how my life would be been different it my dad’s launch in 1973 had succeeded. I might be a doctor or lawyer or even an aerospace engineer like my father instead of a graphic designer.” At the very least, the universe has answered that question. I crashed my rocket just like dad so the space-time continuum has not been affected. I can move on confident that I am doing exactly what I should be doing with my life.
Who knows, maybe this experience will have the same effect on my boys and they’ll avoid engineering and graphic design and they’ll become New York State highway patrolmen. Either way, this is the world my sons have to live in, so I suppose this experience this isn’t the worst thing. After all I didn’t get arrested, I almost got arrested.
But I hope that if they remember any of this, it’ll be seeing their father try, fail, and laugh about it afterwards.
Just like I did 40 years ago.
Dad, 1973 (photo: Elaine Sahre)
Mom, 2013 (photo: Michael Northrup)
5:18 pm • 19 August 2013 • 25 notes