How to Build a Rocket

Knowing how to build a rocket can be useful for school projects or personal entertainment. Building a rocket is a project that can involve children as well as adults and is rewarding for all the participants. There are a variety of procedures that can be followed when building a rocket at home, but essentially the basis of the structure is a cylindrical body and any additional forms added are up to the user.

Materials

  • Cylindrical object, can or bottle
  • Balsa wood
  • Plastic cement
  • Engine mount
  • Engine
  • Ignition system
  • Nose cone
  • Wood glue
  • Parachute

Tools

  • Knife
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Paint
  • Masking tape

Instructions

  1. Create a drawing with dimensions of your rocket design, keeping it simple if this is your first attempt making a rocket. As a guideline, the body should be a cylinder, a nose cone, three fins and an engine.
  2. Cut your materials to match the dimensions of your drawn design and set them apart for assembly.
  3. Take the cylindrical body and attach the nose cone to one end using plastic cement, as wood glue will not bond with plastic. If plastic cement is unavailable to you, super glue is also a great alternative, however, use it with great caution.
  4. Smooth the fins so air will move more easily over them, eliminating unwanted drag. If you are constructing your fins from scratch, do so with the aid of a fin template placed on a piece of balsa wood and trace the shape. Use a craft knife to cut out the shape of the wood fin.After the fins have been shaped and smoothed, attach them to the body using plastic cement or wood glue, depending on what material your rocket body is made out of.
  5. Install the engine mount into the bottom of the rocket just under the fins. Apply glue to the outside of the engine mount using cotton swabs to fit it securely in the body of the rocket.
  6. Decide on how you want your rocket to be painted. A smooth painting job will aid the aerodynamics of the rocket. For a multi-coloured rocket, paint the entire rocket with one base colour first. When it dries, use masking tape to cover those parts of the rocket you want to remain in that colour. Paint over the areas that will differ in colour and wait until the second coating dries before removing the masking tape.
  7. Take your rocket for a test run before showing it off.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider attaching a parachute to the back of your nose cone as this will deploy when your engine fires its ejection charge.
  • Your engine will come with manufacturer’s recommendations for what ignition system you should use to fire your rocket.
  • Do not attempt to make your own rocket fuel; this is fatal.
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