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This Is, Hands Down, The Best Backyard Rocket For All Ages

This model rocket is simple to use and as fun for dads as it is for kids.

The National Geographic Power Rocket is much more than the science project of your youth. This Rocket is many glorious things in one $40 package. It’s a motorized rocket that shoots up to 90 feet in the air on the way up, and transformer-style grows rotors to helicopter down that can travel laterally for distances of around 200 to 400 feet. In short: This thing is a blast.

The simple, pure joy of watching something you have a part in propelling travel insanely far does not have an age limit. We’d wager the price of one of these rockets that you’ll audibly “ooh,” “aah,” or “whoa!” when you watch it change from an upward throttling rocket to a slowly spinning descending helicopter.

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While simple in setup and use, the Power Rocket is an engineering marvel. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery takes 30 minutes to charge and can power 20 launches on a single charge. After it hits the peak of its flight, its sides open up upon its descent. This will cause it to counter-rotate, which forces wings to pop out of pouches which makes it go into a slow helicopter-style descent—called autorotation in helicopter pilot parlance. This autorotation creates a very slow downward trajectory which puts it well below breaking force when it hits the ground and allows it to cover some serious distance laterally with even the faintest breeze pushing it.

The box says it maxes out at 90 feet vertically and 200 horizontal but just know that wind can make this rocket go forever. It has three vertical distance modes: 30 feet, 60 feet, and 90 feet. While going full send and cranking it up to 90 will be tempting on your first go, we suggest starting out at 30 feet if you don’t have a huge open space. During a test flight on a soccer field, a light breeze sent it around 350 feet across the pitch, so be prepared for a hike.

If you’ve got an open field, though, go nuts. Half the fun is chasing down the rocket with your mini-me. The other half is watching their eyes light up every time this easy-to-use rocket takes to the sky.