A group of Okotoks residents will join dozens of others for an annual rocket launch spectacle at Rock Lake. 

The annual event, south of Lethbridge, is not only a fun time to launch homemade rockets but also gives those taking part in rocketry to enhance their skills and hopefully build bigger, better rockets. 

“It's a bit of a testament to the builder's skill and to their ability to build and fly rockets and it's also a bit of a check and balance to make sure that people are safe to fly," said Owen Plumb of Okotoks, who has been building rockets with his family for about 10 years. 

He explained that the launch at Rock Lake is a chance to get his Level 3 Certification, the second highest level in rocketry. That will allow him to buy some higher power motors for future rockets. 

But that’s not all. 

“I'm also looking to fly a bit of a meme rocket. It's a crash test dummy head on top of a kind of standard rocket body and my sister's going to be flying her Level 1 certification and my cousin's also looking to fly his Level 1 Certification,” said Plumb. 

He added that some of the rockets being launched at Rock Lake can get up to one or two kilometres in altitude, with some Level 4 rockets climbing as high as eight kilometres. 

The Rock Lake launch site sits 24km east of Wrentham, a hamlet roughly 57km south of Taber. 

The site has been used for high-power launches for more than 20 years and is designated as Class F airspace by Transport Canada. 

“When we activate the range, that airspace essentially is ours and aircraft, there's no TAMS issued to pilots and pilots have to fly around our airspace. You can't fly through it,” said Ian Stephens of Cochrane. “It's one of the best sites probably in Canada for launching high-powered rockets and it's in the middle of nowhere.” 

Stephens and three others from Calgary are not only attending the launch on Saturday but bringing a scaled-down version of the Artemis I rocket to Rock Lake. 

The four rocketeers have been building and flying the crafts for decades and last year, decided they wanted to do something out of this world. 

“It's got a core stage with two boosters. The boosters have motors in them and there are three motors in the core stage. They'll all light on the launchpad pretty much at the same time,” he said. 

“When the motors burn out, the boosters will detach from the core and then they'll deploy their own parachutes and come down, and then the core stage will continue up, coasting a little way until it reaches apogee, and then parachutes will get deployed and all the parts will come down.” 

Stephens said it will be quite a spectacle if it successfully launches but is keeping an eye on the weather for Saturday, particularly the wind. 

“With any of the rockets, the wind is kind of our enemy,” he said. “Rockets will fly upwind and so the greater the wind, the more horizontal the rocket will wind up being. Just because of the way the fins are, the way the fins interact with the wind. So, we want as little wind as possible so that it doesn't arc, and we get a more upright straight-up flight.” 

He added that if the winds are over 15 kilometres an hour, the launch may not happen. 

The forecast for Saturday is calling for a mix of sun and cloud with a high of around 20 degrees. 

Regardless of whether the rockets launch, Stephens and Plumb say one of the best parts of the event is getting together with other rocket enthusiasts. 

“There is a lot of great people that get together. A lot of people with a lot of knowledge on rockets and it's great just being able to talk with everybody and yeah, have a good time.”