DIY Rocketeer Creates Working Self-Landing SpaceX Replica After 7 Years

Joe Barnard has propulsively landed a model rocket for the first time, achieving a long-time dream.
Joe Barnard has propulsively landed a model rocket for the first time, achieving a long-time dream.
The landing of Scout F. Image: Barnard Propulsion Systems
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A DIY rocketeer has fulfilled his vision of sticking the landing of a model rocket, in a miniature version of the same maneuver pioneered on much larger scales by the company SpaceX, after seven years of meticulous trial-and-error.

Joe Barnard, founder of Barnard Propulsion Systems (BPS), has developed a career out of hobby rocketry and earned a loyal following with his videos of launches and attempted landings. On July 24, he announced that he had at last accomplished his goal to propulsively land a model rocket for the first time, offering a miniature version of SpaceX’s touchdowns with his vehicle “Scout F.”


On Monday, Barnard followed up with a video that includes mesmerizing footage of the much-anticipated landing, interspersed with shots of his equipment and working process that shed light on the complexity of this multiyear odyssey. 

“I started this project back in the fall of 2015 with the goal to propulsively land a model rocket, not because it’s revolutionary or game-changing for model rocketry, but because it’s a really cool project and I knew I would learn a lot,” he said in the new video. 

“And I did learn a lot,” Barnard continued. “You can scroll back on this channel and see for yourself how I started by failing and failing and failing and burning out and failing more and burning out again. But slowly, over time, you can see the reliability of these flights just inch up, tick by tick.”

No sooner than Barnard celebrated the triumph than he was outlining out new goals for the future. His ultimate dream is to launch a rocket to suborbital space, meaning an altitude greater than 62 miles, but he also teased the development of a larger rocket model and a mysterious project called the “Meat Rocket.”  

“I’m not going to tell you what the Meat Rocket is,” Barnard said in the video. “I’m not even going to give you a hint. You’re just going to have to find out. It’s crazy.”