Introduction: Building a Rocket

The following information is a single lesson in a larger Tinkercad project. Check out this and more projects on Tinkercad.

Project Overview:

While the thought of living in space may seem like science fiction, as you read this the International Space Station is circling the earth at a speed of five miles per second, orbiting the earth once every 90 minutes.

In this project you will learn how to use Tinkercad to create a space station of your own. You will follow instructions on building specific components of a space station and then will be set off on your own to continue building out the required modules.

Your mission is to create the following modules:

• Command Module – Area that controls the system on the space station

• Engineering/Research – A location in the space station to do research

• Living Quarters – An area for astronauts and scientists to sleep

• Storage Module – A storage location for spare equipment and supplies

• Propulsion – A module used to maneuver the space station when required

Step 1: Introduction

In order to change the position, speed, or altitude of your space station you will need to create a propulsion system.

In this lesson you will learn how to build a rocket for your space station.

You will need a compartment for fuel and a nozzle to direct the force generated by the rocket, but feel free to be as creative as you wish once you understand how to build in Tinkercad.

Instructions

  1. Continue to the next step.

Step 2: Plan Your Build

Before you begin, take a moment to look at and identify the shapes in the model.

This will help you mentally create a plan of how the model should be created. The entire rocket is built from 4 simple shapes, including a Cone, Paraboloid, Cylinder, and Half Sphere.

Instructions

  1. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: Create the Engine Housing

We will start by creating the engine compartment as it is the largest component to which everything else will attach.

Instructions

  1. Place a Cylinder on the Workplane and size it to be 25mm in diameter and 25mm tall. This will represent the engine compartment and is the largest component to which everything else will attach.
  2. Continue to the next step.

Step 4: Build the Fuel Canister

Now we will build the canisters that surround the engine compartment.

Instructions

  1. Place another Cylinder on the Workplane and size it to be 5mm in diameter and 18mm tall.
  2. Continue to the next step.

Step 5: Add Canister End Caps

To complete the canisters you will need to place a matching half sphere shape on each end.

Instructions

  1. Place a Half Sphere shape on the Workplane and size the diameter to 5mm.
  2. Duplicate the Half Sphere and rotate it 180°, so it is upside down. You now have the canister end caps and they need to be positioned on the ends of the canister.
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 6: Position Canister End Caps

Next we need to position the end cap on the ends of the canister cylinder.

Instructions

  1. Select the first Half Sphere and raise it up off the Workplane to match the height of the canister by left clicking and dragging the black arrow above the shape.
  2. Lower the upside down Half Sphere to the bottom of the canister in the same way.
  3. Tip: Remember you can change the snap grid to 0.5mm to assist in moving the Half Sphere shape. Since they are 2.5mm tall the 0.5mm snap grid setting will make it easier to position the shapes. You may also want to set it back to 1mm after positioning the shapes.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 7: Align Canister End Caps

We are now ready to align the canister and end caps and group them into a single object.

Instructions

  1. Select all 3 shapes that make up the canister and select the Align tool from the adjust menu.
  2. Align the shapes so they all share the same axis vertically and Group then into a single shape.
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 8: Position the Canister on the Engine Compartment

We can now position the first canister on the engine compartment and prepare toe copy that around the engine compartment.

Instructions

  1. Select the canister and the engine Cylinder and align them to the center in one direction and to the maximum on the Workplane and align to the middle vertically. Doing this will make the canister centered touching the outside wall of the Cylinder in a tangent fashion at a single point, but the canister will be inside the Cylinder.
  2. Tip: Temporarily changing the main Cylinder to a Hole will make it easier to see the canister inside the Cylinder.
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 9: Move the Canister Into Position

After aligning the canister in the previous step it will be located inside the main cylinder. We need to make the canister stick out form the side of the engine compartment.

Instructions

  1. Make sure the Grid Snap is set to 1mm.
  2. Select the Cylinder and press the arrow key on the keyboard twice to move the Cylinder away from the canister. This should cause the canister to stick out of the Cylinder. Each time you press the arrow key the Cylinder will move 1mm.
  3. Press the arrow key until the canister is extending about half way out of the Cylinder.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 10: Copy the Canister

To make it easier to create the pattern of canisters around the engine compartment we will start by creating a pair of canisters on opposite sides of the engine compartment and Group then into a single item.

Instructions

  1. Duplicate the canister by selecting Duplicate from the Edit menu. This will create an exact copy of the canister in the exact same location.
  2. Use the arrow key on the keyboard to move the copy to the opposite side of the engine compartment, so it sticks out from the other side of the engine compartment.
  3. Select both canisters and Group them together.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 11: Create Canisters Around the Engine Compartment

We are now ready to create the canisters that will surround the engine compartment.

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Instructions

  1. Select the grouped canisters.
  2. Duplicate them by selecting Duplicate from the Edit menu.
  3. Rotate the duplicate canisters 45° on the workplane.
  4. Select Duplicate two more times to create canisters all the way around the engine compartment.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 12: Change the Colors

We now have the engine compartment and fuel canisters complete, but we need to adjust the colors.

If we were to simply group all the object now the engine compartment would remove material from the canisters, but we want them to join into one item.

Instructions

  1. Select all the canisters and select a new color that you like. I will select black for the lesson.
  2. Select the engine compartment and change it from a hole to a color you like. I will use a grey color for the lesson.
  3. Select all the shapes and Group them into a single object.
  4. Doing this will make all the shapes turn the same color. With this new group selected, select the Color box from the Inspector window and check the Multicolor checkbox. This will keep the shapes grouped, but allow the individual colors in the group show through.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 13: Add a Nose Cone

The next step is to create a rounded nose cone on the rocket which will be quite easy because we have already taken these exact steps when we were creating the canisters.

Instructions

  1. Place a Half Sphere shape on the Workplane and size the diameter to 25mm.
  2. Lift the Half Sphere upward off the Workplane 25mm to match the top of the engine.
  3. Select the engine and the nose cone and Align them vertically.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 14: Add the Thrust Cone

We are now ready to add shapes to the bottom of the rocket to create a nozzle to direct the thrust of the engine.

We can do this with a Cone and two Paraboloid shapes.

Instructions

  1. Place a Cone shape on the Workplane and size it to be 25mm in diameter to match the engine diameter.
  2. Rotate the cone 180° so the flat part of the Cone is facing upward.
  3. Using the black arrow above the Cone, lower the Cone 25mm so it matches up with the bottom of the engine.
  4. Continue to next step.

Step 15: Align the Thrust Cone

In preparation for adding the Thrust Nozzle, we need to align the cone and the engine.

Instructions

  1. Select all the shapes and Align them vertically.
  2. Select all the shapes and press D on the keyboard. This will lift the shape up so the lowest point of the selected shapes sits on the active Workplane.
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 16: Add the Thrust Nozzle

Now we need to add a nozzle to direct the engine thrust. We will do this with two Paraboloid shapes.

Instructions

  1. Place a Parabaloid shape on the Workplane and size it to be 25mm in diameter.
  2. Select all the shapes and Align them vertically.
  3. Select the nose cone and the thrust cone and set them to the same color as the engine compartment.
  4. Select the thrust nozzle and lift it upward off the Workplane 5mm.
  5. Select all the parts and Group them. The new shape should remain multicolored, but if it doesn't, then select the color tool from the Inspector panel and check the Multicolor check box.
  6. Continue to the next step.

Step 17: Hollow Out the Thrust Nozzle

The Rocket is almost complete, but we need to hollow out the inside of the thrust nozzle.

Instructions

  1. Place a Parabaloid shape on the Workplane and size it to be 25mm in diameter.
  2. Change the new Parabaloid to a hole.
  3. Select all the shapes and Align them vertically.
  4. Select the rocket and use the black arrow on top to lift it upward 2mm. This will increase the thickness of the thrust nozzle when the inside is hollowed out by grouping the shapes.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 18: Hollow Out the Thrust Nozzle

Grouping all the rocket shapes will remove material from the inside of thrust nozzle

Instructions

  1. Select all the shapes and Group them.
  2. With the new shape selected press D on the keyboard to place the final shape onto the Workplane.
  3. Continue to the next lesson.

Step 19: Space Station Connection

To finish up the rocket we need to create a way for the rocket to attach to the space station.

We will add a connection point to the top of the rocket so it can easily be attached at different location on the space station.

Instructions

  1. Place a Cylinder on the Workplane and size it to 15mm in diameter and 15mm tall.
  2. Change the color of the Cylinder to match the engine nose cone.
  3. Select the rocket and the new Cylinder and Align them vertically, then Align them to the top so the Cylinder matches the top of the rocket.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 20: Create a Hole in the Connector

The final step in creation is to create the hole that will allow the rocket to be connected to the space station.

The tube the rocket will connect with has a diameter of 10mm, so we will have to make the hole slightly larger to allow the pieces to connect smoothly.

Instructions

  1. Place a Cylinder on the Workplane and size it to 10.5mm in diameter and 10mm tall. Remember: You can change the Snap Grid settings to 0.5mm to make this adjustment, but remember to set it back to 1mm when finished.
  2. Change the Cylinder to be a hole.
  3. Then align using the same steps as the Cylinder. Select all the shapes and Align them vertically, then Align them to the top so the Cylinders align with the top of the rocket.
  4. Complete the rocket by selecting all the shapes and Grouping them into a single object.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 21: 3D Print Your Rocket

The way this rocket was designed does not require any special support or raft options.

Instructions

  1. Select Download for 3D printing from the design menu.
  2. Select .STL as the download format. The .STL file format can be used with any 3D printer.
  3. Import the .STL file into your 3D printer software and print.

In the next lesson you will learn to add a place for the astronauts to live!

Next Lesson:Building a Housing Module

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