The hobby of building model rockets and shooting them up and away, hopefully to be recovered.
Most rockets I shot ranged from 3" long to 4' and had one or two engines. However professionals, entrepreneurs and rocket scientists (of all things) concoct awesome high-altitude contraptions with hopes of someday reaching orbit.
A simple rocket is a cardboard tube with a removable nose cone on one end and another end with fins on it. That's were the engine goes, a little cardboard cylinder full of solid propellent available in various sizes and types (ranging from small A's to big D's). Behind the pointy end is your recovery device, usually a parachute or streamer. Between the recovery device and engine is some recovery wadding, which thermally shields the recovery device and acts like a piston to push it out.
There are rockets that can haul payloads (a camera using 110 film, an egg, etc), have multiple stages, or resemble some type of aircraft.
The launch process is like this:
The launcher is merely a four foot long thin metal rod, which attaches to a blast deflector (a metal plate to keep the engine from starting grass fires), which then attaches to a short tripod.
There is a guide tube glued to the rocket, which paralells the rocket's body. You slide this down the launch rod, onto a metal blast deflector.
You shove an ignitor into the engine, then use your electric launcher to burn the ignitor (after walking away). Hopefully the engine catches light, and poof, it's off like a prom dress. The rocket reaches top altitude in few seconds. The engine will burn a bit of smoke within the body, which serves to activate the recovery device and help you see the damn thing in the sky. The smoke causes pressure in the body and off pops the nose and pushes out the parachute. After a few minutes it'll come down to earth (or much faster if you had a recovery problem).

One day it looked like rain was about to happen and my buddies and I decided to wrap things up in a hurry. We started launching rockets as quick as we could shove engines into them. Then I heard a thump behind me, and saw a smoking rocket's ass sticking out of the ground a foot behind me. Autopsy revealed in someone's haste a rocket went up without the wadding and melted the parachute. The nose cone didn't pop off, and upon apex the thing just pointed down and cruised right at me at some 130 miles per hour. It seemed like a laugh at the time but I bet that would've hurt. A lot.

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