Here's one that we launched earlier...

Story from the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald

IT is a programme best known more for making models from empty washing-up liquid bottles and sticky-back plastic, but tonight viewers will see how 'Blue Peter' launched a real rocket near Kingussie.

Show presenter Zoe Salmon called in rocket expert Damian Hall to help design and build the 'Blue Peter' rocket and find a discreet launch site for the long-running show's inaugural space mission.

After months of planning, a nondescript convoy of vehicles arrived at Balavil Estate late last month to prepare the way to launch the 'Blue Peter' rocket.

A team of engineers selected a launch site in the middle of a large open glen on the estate belonging to Mr Allan Macpherson-Fletcher, and began to erect a gantry for the 28-foot-high rocket.

Weather conditions were declared perfect on May 27 for the rocket to take to the skies, and Mr Macpherson-Fletcher, Zoe and her TV crew were ushered back a safe distance to watch the launch.

Lift-off went smoothly at about 8pm, after a first attempt was delayed by a problem with a fuel leak.

Soon the craft was soaring to a height of 3,000 feet above the launch site before the carefully-planned return journey and a smooth landing near the launch site.

But that was when the drama unfolded.

First the rocket's parachute failed to deploy correctly, and then the launch team noticed it was making straight for the only exposed rocky surface for miles around... at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, the 'Blue Peter' rocket did not explode on landing, although it did break into two parts.

"It landed about 400 yards away from the launch site in two sections, and everything was filmed by a camera on a model aeroplane," said Mr Macpherson-Fletcher.

"We had to be careful that the rocket didn't set fire to the hill – that was my main concern – but everything went fine in that regard."

Zoe added: "I've been involved in the construction of the rocket from the start, and seeing it ready for take-off in the middle of the most breathtaking Scottish heathland made me feel pretty emotional.

"I had learned all about how rockets work, but the launch itself was so exciting, it felt more like a drama than a documentary. We have now got to decide whether it's time for Blue Peter to enter the space race!"

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The Blue Peter Rocket...One small step for Zoe Salmon!

It's a flag, a children's book award, a yearly fund raising appeal, a UK
wide children's awards scheme, a series of books, a steam train, a fleet
of lifeboats, a hot air balloon, an asteroid and a plane.

Now Blue Peter reach for the stars because Blue Peter is also a ROCKET! A
massive one, the rocket is definitely not made out of sticky back tape and
wasn't made using old washing up liquid bottles either; it is one of the
largest ever launched from British soil.

Blue Peter and the Rocket Men have been in cahoots over this top secret
project for several months. Normally, projects of this type would be hugely
expensive, way beyond the budget of children's television. However, Damian
and Colin both watched Blue Peter as young boys and they felt the need to
make the rocket so young people could be excited and enthused about
Engineering and Science. So, after much deliberation and scratching of
heads,
The Rocket Men decided to offer their time and effort to Blue Peter for
free.

Zoe Salmon was specially drafted in to assist in designing
and building the huge rocket. At 28 foot tall the rocket is larger than
a house. The massive power and size of the Blue Peter Rocket meant that
Damian had to talk to the Civil Aviation Authority to obtain special
permission to fly the huge monster!

After much consultation a launch location in the remote moors of Scotland
was selected. The drama doesn't stop there! The challenge of transporting a
huge rocket and launch facilities up the foothills of the Cairngorm
mountains is a huge and also a potentially dangerous task. The rocket is a
surprisingly delicate flying machine. The rough terrain of
the Cairngorm mountains might damage any number of the sensitive computers
and motors that make the rocket work correctly. Any hiccup at this stage and
the rocket could blow itself into a million pieces at the launch pad or make
it career into the ground at enormous speeds. The task is a big one!

Special permission from four Air Traffic Control agencies were also required
before Zoe could even consider launching her rocket into the skies. We
needed to make sure that any civil airliners in the area didn't get shot
down by the large beast. To do that a large rocket flight such as this one
requires real time co-ordination with Air Traffic Control.

Does the rocket get off the ground? Does it fly properly? Blow up into a
million pieces on ignition or perhaps it careers of course and crashes into
the beautiful but harsh terrain of the Cairngorm mountains?

Special Blue Peter website content has been created so young people all over
the country can start making and flying their own rockets. Just like Colin
and Damian did when they were young boys. Having said that, Colin's wife
Heidi has described her husband as, "An eight year old boy, trapped in a
man's body!"

Tune into Blue Peter, Wednesday 18th June, BBC1 at 4:35pm. The programme
promises to be spectacular. Whatever the outcome of the rocket flight!

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