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Seven-year-old boy builds flying rocket and wins the praise of Buzz Aldrin, with the help of Vodafone Firsts

29 May 2014Technology news
4 minute read

Czech schoolboy Ota Zelezny dreams of becoming a rocket scientist, building a rocket equipped with technology to track the flight

• In a film by Vodafone Firsts* capturing the creation of his rocket, Ota is seen launching his invention and beaming with pride as it flies

• Ota is congratulated by former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who gives him tips for the future and answers his questions

A seven-year-old boy from the Czech Republic has realised his dream of becoming a rocketeer - building a 175cm rocket that has captured the attention of former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.

From as early as he can remember, Ota Zelezny’s ambition has been to design and build his own rocket – something his father and grandfather have done as a hobby since the 1950s.

In a film by Vodafone Firsts, the build-up to the creation and launch of Ota’s rocket is captured until, finally, it is ready to take-off, standing taller than Ota at 175cm high.

Designed together with champion rocket-builder Bedrich Pavka, the rocket – created with fibreglass, wood and resin - was equipped with an altimeter to measure the height and velocity. Accurate measurement of flight trajectory is essential for acceptance by the local rocket-building club.

The rocket was equipped with a video camera and Vodafone technology was used to create a Wi-Fi hotspot so that Ota could view the footage from the on-board camera in real time. Mobile technology also enabled Ota to immediately share the footage of the flight with his rocket-building friends.

In the film of the rocket launch, Ota is beside himself with excitement as he presses the button on the launch pad, his face lighting up from beneath his space helmet as his creation flies through the air, landing beautifully after almost 200 metres.

To make Ota’s day even more special, Vodafone reached out to Buzz Aldrin, who surprised the young rocket-builder with an internet video call. Aldrin, who was shown Ota’s rocket’s maiden adventure before the video call, told the young boy: “It looked like a very smooth rocket. I think that you’ve done a great job.”

As they continued to chat, Ota asked Buzz: “Have you seen an alien?” to which Buzz replied: “If they exist and we don’t know that, they are very, very, very far away.”

Buzz bid Ota farewell, saying: “So keep up the good work, you never know, in 20 years you may be launching real rockets!” – as he signed off with a Star Trek wave.

Joining RMK Rocketry Club a year ago, Ota has built a number of smaller craft before, but this was his first ‘proper’ rocket. The rocket’s size, quality of design and the successful maiden voyage meant that, despite his young age, Ota has now qualified as a fully-fledged rocketeer in the eyes of his fellow club members.

Vodafone Group’s Brand Director, Barbara Haase said: “When mobile technology can make a child’s dream come true, it is a truly incredible thing. Launching Ota’s first rocket and connecting him with Buzz Aldrin are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. As with our other Firsts, mobile technology can enable people to do amazing things.”

For more information, contact:

Vodafone Group

Media Relations

Ogilvy London
Ceri Bevan

Note to Editors

*Further details of Vodafone Firsts can be found at:

About Vodafone Firsts

Vodafone Firsts is a programme which helps people to do remarkable things for the first time. Recently, two grandmothers from the Netherlands became internet phenomena when Vodafone enabled them to experienced flying on a plane for the first time. Other firsts have included one man surfing one of the most dangerous waves in the world and a woman who has started the first female fight club to protect women in India.

Firsts focuses on a simple concept: Vodafone inspiring people to do something remarkable for the first time, with the help of mobile technology, from making their first call to sharing their first video.

About Vodafone
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 27 countries, partners with mobile networks in 48 more, and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 31 March 2014, Vodafone had 434 million mobile customers and 9 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit:

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