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Mars is there, waiting to be reached

— Buzz Aldrin
1972 Estes Catalog Page 25
In the early 70s, most kids ran to the mail box to grab the Sears or Monkey Wards catalog wish books and then spent days dreaming over the pages. Not I, I grabbed the Estes Rocket Catalog and spent years dreaming about the potential rockets that I would one day construct and fly. But there was no rocket that sparked my imagination more than the Mars Lander. Man going to the moon was becoming as routine as driving to the grocery store, but Mars still had potential. We all knew we would have bases and be living on Mars before the 70s ended. The Estes catalog description for the Mars Lander seductively read:

authentic, futuristic, concept in a planetary exploration vehicle, lands upright on spring loaded gear after parachute recovery, highly detailed body panels with colorful decal sheets

At that time, the Mars Lander kit cost a whopping $7.75, far out of reach for a ten year old dreamer. Also, it was skill level 5, the hardest of all rockets to build. I built many rockets from the Estes catalog over my life but never the Mars Lander. Then Estes stop offering the Mars Lander and the dream ended.


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Later on in years, a company called Semroc offered the Mars Lander kit but by that time I was only interested in High Power Rockets and a small 12 inch kit did not warrant a second look. However, the Mars Lander still called out to me, those spring loaded legs, parachute recovery, landing upright, it haunted me through the years, it beckoned from deep within my subconscious. Then for Christmas 2010, my wife gave me a box with a bow. I opened it and inside was a 2X Mars Lander from Tango Pappa. The 2X is the upscale size and meant that this rocket was twice as large as the original, and more importantly, it had a 38mm motor mount. Oh the possibilities for the Mars Lander now that it could fly on an H and I class motors. I quickly studied the directions and started its construction. I share this build with fellow dreamers of the seventies.

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1972 Estes Catalog Page 25