Introduction: 10 Minute Rocket

Picture of 10 Minute Rocket

This instructable will teach you how to build a simple, ultra light rocket from household items (and of course a rocket engine)
Here's the supply list:
- 1 tube of superglue
- 1 roll of tinfoil
- 1 straw big enough to fit around your launch rod
- 1 deck of playing cards that you don't mind parting with
- 1 C rocket engine
- several rocket engine detonators + plugs
- 1 electronic detonator (and necessary cables)

WARNING: This is totally dangerous. I didn't die, but you might. It is NOT MY FAULT if you hurt yourself following these instructions.

Step 1: Building Yourself Some Fins

Picture of Building Yourself Some Fins

The fins themselves are pretty simple, the difficult part is positioning them evenly around the rocket. To make a fin, first you'll need to fold a playing card in half hamburger style. Take your superglue and seal the folded halves together, like a sandwich. Glue is going to ooze out the sides and get all over your fingers, but just suck it up and take it like a man. Make two of these sandwiches and let the glue completely dry.

Now you can need to do a little bit of measuring, but nothing too complicated. Take one of the folded cards and put it perpendicular to the other, forming an L. Mark off the edge and cut it away so you're left with one square-ish shape. Repeat with the other folded card and, if you've done everything correctly thus far you should be left with two pseudo-squares.

Take these faux-squares and cut diagonally across from the curved corner to the corner directly opposite. You should now have four fin shapes, congratulations. Now onto the difficult part, attaching them.

Step 2: Attaching the Fins

Picture of Attaching the Fins

Basically, you want the fins to be completely perpendicular to each other. I realize that this is darn near impossible, but if you somehow screw up the positioning horribly the rocket could possibly come back and hit you in the face. Take your time.

I've attached a template PDF to this step, I would recommend printing it out and using it as a guide when you're gluing. Superglue is really REALLY good at bonding cardboard, so you're only going to get one shot at this. Line up your engine, apply a small amount of glue to the edge of the fin, and take the dive. The first fin is the easiest, but every other fin has to be positioned as accurately as possible to prevent the rocket from spinning out. Again, just take your time and it should be fine.

Once you have all the fins loosely attached, apply a liberal amount of glue to the seams. You do not want one of these falling off mid flight.

Put the rocket in the sun to dry, the next step is going to take a while.

Step 3: Sculpting a Nose Cone

Picture of Sculpting a Nose Cone

Take a large piece of aluminum foil, about 5" by 5", and begin to shape it into a cone. This step is a little tricky and it takes a bit of practice, but you'll probably get it after your third or fourth failed cone. You'll want to rub it on a smooth surface to work out all the kinks, and over time (with liberal amounts of elbow grease) the cone should begin to take shape. Be sure to check that the tip is centered after every few minutes of honing, if it is skewed it could also affect the trajectory of your rocket.

Once you're satisfied with your cone, just glue it onto the end of your rocket. Mine happened to fit perfectly within the cardboard tube, but it's fine if yours is a bit larger. I applied a good puddle of glue around the cone and waited for it to harden, just to ensure the cone was attached snugly.

Step 4: Attaching the Launch Lug

Picture of Attaching the Launch Lug

Cut a piece of straw about the length of your rocket's body. Carefully glue it between two of your fins, and position it parallel to the body. Wait for it to dry, and then again apply more glue. You don't want this one to fall off either, it's a pretty crucial part of the rocket.

Once your launch lug is dried on, you're all done. FInd a good open area to launch it and prepare the detonator.

Step 5: LAUNCH

Picture of LAUNCH

Carefully insert the detonator and seal the hole with a plug. Clip the leads onto the ends of the detonator, and tilt the launch pad away from you at about a 45 degree angle. Step back, and press the button. If all goes according to plan, the rocket should shoot off the launch pad and fly pretty darn far. I've attached a video of two launches to this step; the first was a failure, but the second was a success. Just note that it was a really windy day, I would really recommend launching on a much calmer day. Have fun!


full_court_baller101 (author)2015-05-20

Great. Except I'm not a certified rocket launcher and I don't want to have to buy myself a engine or whatever it is called. If you have any suggestions please let me know. I'm only a beginner. First time.

You dont have to be certifed to get small engines

mugshotremoval (author)2014-06-01

This looks like a neat project to try out with my son.

Encik_Google (author)2012-10-12

cool rockets.are its works?

jackjackboom (author)2012-09-27

Well gee I just read all of ur comments and i think that i would learn less in a beginning physics class!

Shadow13! (author)2012-05-12

Great instructable. I've thought about doing this in the past and just haven't taken the time. Clever idea for the nose cone. If you backed each fin up a little then they could help support each other(see diagram). The only problem with a rocket like this is if it maintains a parabolic trajectory towards the ground rather then just tumble because if this happens then it will continue to gain momentum as if falls and can do considerable damage. Hopefully when the ejection charge blows it will blow the nose cone off causing it to tumble rather then follow a parabolic trajectory.

pie R []ed (author)2012-05-12

Hello (zach),
I loved the instructable, and it reminded me of rocket I made last summer. By made I mean that I found as many engines as I could, chad staged them, and stuck fins on 'em. Attached is a picture. It flew. Mostly.

MD_Willington (author)2008-05-27

LOL... Did this with a D engine. We glued a kabob stick to it so it looked just like a bottle rocket. Fun stuff, still have all our fingers !

ekulmeekul (author)MD_Willington2008-07-14

and eyes?

Ph3nomin0n (author)ekulmeekul2008-12-20

Yes but i doubt he can hear anymore lol

MD_Willington (author)Ph3nomin0n2008-12-20

Yep, I can still hear, although all of the industrial tools I've used have knocked my hearing out in a few places.

Epeoples (author)MD_Willington2009-11-14

 Unfortunately, I'm blind in both ears and deaf in both eyes, so...

yapoyo (author)Epeoples2012-04-27


MD_Willington (author)ekulmeekul2008-12-20

Yep, both eyes

galenorama (author)MD_Willington2009-02-07

Gluing a pointy stick to an already unstable rocket is about the only thing you could do that is more stupid then actually making it in the first place.

blaahhaa (author)galenorama2009-07-18

The stick makes it stable.

MD_Willington (author)galenorama2009-02-07

Cast the first stone...

frenchie16 (author)2010-09-11

I saw somebody launch a multi-stage one of these! Just loosely tape a booster engine (something like a B6-0) to a regular engine (say, a B6-5), put a cone-shaped thing on top, and tape the fins to the upper engine, but so that they extend down past the lower one a bit. WHen he launched it, it went up for a ways, we saw the second stage ignite, and then… it just disappeared into the sky.

ilpug (author)frenchie162012-03-05

Is the booster engine on top, or on the bottom?

flamekiller (author)frenchie162010-10-13

That's the most awesome thing I've read all day.

jakee117 (author)2008-05-28

u get a three good, but I extremely dislike the thought that i could kill my self... but I'd be happy what a hell of a way to die in your own amazing explosion dreaming of bigger ones.... im not emo I just like explosions and you may need to put a little more thought into the disclaimer, cuz it will probably not help you any... good one!

Colonel88 (author)jakee1172009-11-26

No, it wouldn't explode, the rocket will probably just fall over, crack your rib if it hits you, and probably make you go to da hospital. If it hits your nuts then you can be just like Justin Bieber, with his girly voice. Stoopid can drive says if we get the most cans in the Tri-State region he comes to give our school concert.

jakee117 (author)Colonel882009-11-26

lol....that'd still hurt though

hawkfrost64 (author)jakee1172010-08-20

But then you'd be able to say, "I've been hit in the chest with a rocket" And Girls would be like, "Oh, wow, he's tough. Or an idiot." It depends, girls are weird.

Good point.

Shut Up Now (author)jakee1172008-12-20

the only way i could see this killing u is if u lit it and then stuck it up anyway, its that or shoving it down ur throat and then igniting it. (tho there wouldnt be enough oxygen for it to stay lit)

CyberBill (author)Shut Up Now2008-12-22

"(tho there wouldnt be enough oxygen for it to stay lit)" Rockets don't need outside oxygen, they have the fuel and oxidizer both in the mixture. That's why we can use rockets in space. :)

im pretty sure they dont use rockets much in space, most of the time its just compressed air jets

dla888 (author)greatchrismyster2009-09-24

Compressed air wouldn't work in space because... There's no air in space! The gas that was rushing out wouldn't work cause there's nothing for it to push against. They use rocket engines in space. Basically they have fuel and an oxidizer. The oxidizer provides the oxygen and the burning oxidizer and fuel provides the thrust.

clazman (author)dla8882011-09-26

Compressed air would still work!

The physics behind rockets is that "mass" be it air or other molecules. are exhausted from the nozzle. "Equal and opposite reaction"

The only problem with compressed air is that to achieve a sufficient mass flow rate the volume and pressure would be HUGE!!

Please take a physics class.

CyberBill (author)clazman2011-09-26

Instructables has a policy: "We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site."

The comment you responded to is 2 years old, and the information you posted was already covered in other comments. You posted 3 comments on this thread, and I would say that none of them followed the 'be nice' policy. People are here to embrace knowledge and to help each other, please don't talk down to them.

I know that it can be hard to humanize some random post on the internet, but remember that there is a person on the other end.

CyberBill (author)dla8882009-09-24

Compressed air works exactly the same way that rockets in space work. You don't have to "push against something". All you have to do is throw something off of the back really fast and for every action, you get a reaction.

Mathias Re'eh (author)CyberBill2010-02-14

newtons law " for ever action there is a equal and opposite reaction"

dla888 (author)Mathias Re'eh2010-02-14

True, but that law was made on Earth. I'm not sure if it would apply to space.

clazman (author)dla8882011-09-26

Now, I've heard everything. Please take a physics class!!!!!!!!

CyberBill (author)dla8882010-02-15

Newtons laws apply everywhere, even space.  :)

zottffssen (author)CyberBill2010-02-17

They don't apply at the quantum level.  :)

Benjicg (author)zottffssen2010-12-12

and on the quantum level you do not exist untill I observe you, which since i have not done, renders your argument invalid

SirCheez (author)Benjicg2011-06-14

I love literalists. :D

Benjicg (author)SirCheez2011-09-17

literallists like you but dont think they know you well enough to say they love you ;)

Mathias Re'eh (author)SirCheez2011-06-19

I just realized how bad my spelling is xD

dla888 (author)CyberBill2010-02-15

I did not know that. I thought that gravity affected them a lot, but it's been awhile since I looked at Newton.

CyberBill (author)Mathias Re'eh2010-02-15

In the case of rockets, the rocket is "pushing against" the gas that is being expelled.  Or, perhaps more correctly, the gas is "pushing against" the rocket.

There are two equal forces - one force is pushing the rocket one way, and the other force is pushing the gas the other way.

Imagine a mouse trap in space that is loaded with a marble - so that when the mouse trap triggers the marble goes flying.  What will happen is that the marble goes one way and the mouse trap goes the opposite direction.  There doesn't need to be a third thing (air) to 'push against'.

Since the marble has less mass than the mouse trap, and since the forces are equal, it means that the acceleration/velocity will be different for the two items - remember that F = mA (Force = mass * acceleration) and K = mV (Kinetic energy = mass * velocity).  If the marble is half the mass, it will be moving twice as fast.

This is exactly what happens when you expel compressed gas or use a rocket - the tiny particles of gas have very small mass, but they are moving incredibly fast.  This gives an appreciable amount of acceleration to the rocket.  This is why you always have to take into account that a rocket loses mass as it accelerates.

half right and half wrong.

the main rockets use ignition to produce thrust.

The MMU's (manned-maneuvering units) use small amounts of compressed air to move the astronaut in certain directions.

temp (author)greatchrismyster2009-12-31

have u ever seen a rocket launch. there is a lot of fire coming out and that is not from compressed air and that continues to happen in space

whered u get that fact from??


Shut Up Now (author)CyberBill2008-12-25

forgot that. thx lol

NetReaper (author)Shut Up Now2009-01-04


qballcat (author)NetReaper2009-06-18

and boom goes the dynamite

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