Introduction: Assemble a Model Rocket

For a Humanities class assignment, we were told to make something that was DIY. The limitations were near nonexistent, so I decided to base my project off something I love, space. Now, I don't have the money to actually send anything to space, so I decided to do the next best thing, a model rocket. While these things won't reach orbit, they are a fun, simple, and relatively cheap way to send something flying up in the air. Model rockets can be made by practically anyone, and with the right materials, you can be on your way to making your own.


- Be careful at launch. Make sure any spectators are at a far distance, and you as well. The flight controllers wires usually go long enough for you to stand far away.
- If the rocket doesn't launch, wait 60 seconds before inspecting the rocket. Make sure the ignitor is all the way in, which is the usual error.
- If you are underage (-10) have some sort of parental supervision, especially at launch.

Step 1: Materials

Materials for this project can be bought online, or maybe at a store near you. While kits are possible, we decided to get all the materials separately, so incase any of you wish to make your own modifications for your rocket, you can have at least a basic understanding of what you need, without just taking out a kit.

As the image from NASA shows, each model rocket should contain the following

1. Nose Cone
2. Shock Chord
3. Launch Lug
4. Parachute
5. Recovery Wadding
6. Engine mount for (We used one for D and E engines)
7. Rocket Engine (We used a D12-5 Engine)
8. Fins
9. Body Tube (We used a BT-80)
10. Ignitor
11. Flight Controller (With 4 AA Batteries)

You can get these materials from wherever they provide them. We purchased ours through Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and Estes.

Additional Tools
1. Glue
2. Scissors or Utility Knife
3. Pencil for markings

Step 2: The Engine Mount

The Engine mount is critical. How the engine mount can be made depends on the body tube. It's best to buy engine mounts in a pack, and specific to your chosen engine (ie we used one for D and E engines, since we had a D12-5 Engine). Here are the steps we used.

1. Make two pencil markings on the engine tube (1/2 and 2 1/2 inches)
2. Make a slit with your knife on these two markings.
3. Glue around the part of the tube
4. Lay the engine hook so the side shown on the image is off the engine tube. These will go in a slit and will have glue.
5. Insert the Mylar and green centering rings, in the positions where the two slits made were.

Step 3: Fins

The fins of the rocket will help with stability. We used cardboard for our fins, but if you can use better materials, than do so. It is possible to use fin sheets, commonly found online

1. Draw the sizes of your fins in proportion to your rocket.
2. Carefully cut them out.
3. (If from a fin sheet) sand the fins.

Step 4: Decoration

This step can be near wherever, but we chose to do it before we attached anything to the body tube (ie fins or engine mount). This process is simple, optional, and completely up the user. We chose the colors of black and yellow, for the fins and the body tube.

Step 5: Installing the Launch Lug

The launch lug is where the rod in the launch pad is place through. For installation, you need a launch lug, and glue.
1. Make a glue line near the 4" Mark of the top of the body tube
2. Press the launch lug on it, and make sure it dries before letting go.

Step 6: Shock Chord

Most shock chord products will contain something along the line of the image shown above. To install the shock chord, do the following.

1. Place one end of the shock chord near the number 1 part of the paper, make sure it's glued.
2. Fold them. This will make it so you can glue it to the body tube

Step 7: Install Fins

In order to have a strong accurate fin placement, use a fin placement guide.
2. Glue fins based on these lines in the guide for each fin
3. Have them dry, set it on a flat surface

Step 8: Install Recovery Systems

The recovery will use the nose cone, your parachute, and the shock chord placed earlier,

1. You will see a little area at the bottom of the nose cone, cut the middle of it out to allow insertion.
2. Pull the parachute lines through it, and tie them.
3. Attach the shock chord, as well. Do so with a knot.

Step 9: Loading the Rocket

With all of the materials ready, it's time to load the rocket. Here are the steps.

1. Insert the engine mount at the bottom of the body tube (side with the fins). This should go in fairly easily. Make sure to put the engine itself in (like my D12-5)
2. Insert 3 folded pieces of recovery wadding. This is important. It's what separates the engine and the parachute, so the parachute isn't harmed.
3. Put in the parachute and shock chord (note the parachute should be folded, they usually come in easy to fold).
4. Close it with the nose cone

Step 10: Launching and Ignition

You will need a flight controller with batteries, as well igniters (available from estes, Walmart, etc.)

1. Place the clip ends on the end of the ignitor not going in the engine mount (part not bent)
2. Take the other side, and put in inside the whole in the engine. Make sure it reaches the propellant. Most launch failures are because the inability to put the ignitor in the right place.
3. Pull the engine cap into the engine to stabilize the igniters place
4. Use the safety key before ignition. This is found in the flight controller
5. Count from ten, and push the controllers button and launch.