Introduction: Build a Paper Rocket and Paper Launcher

About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
I was looking for a demonstration on air pressure for the Webelos Scientist Activity Badge when I came across this.  Not easy enough for 10 year old boys, so when I had an hour the other day, I brought it out and gave it a try.  The master for the rocket and launch pad are found here:, by a brillant guy called Groeg.  The hardest part was getting the accordion fold right for the billows of the launcher.  Once I figured it out it wasn’t so hard the second time.  So here is how to build a paper rocket and launcher.

Step 1:

Copy of master on regular copy paper,
Craft knife
Self-healing mat or glass mat to cut the paper on
Paper glue (I used YES paper glue, it dries flat)
Small paint brush (to spread the paper glue)
Paper clips (you will need them unless you have more than 3 hands to hold things while they dry)
Bone folder (for creasing and folding paper)
Ruler or other straight edge
Clear tape (not shown)

Step 2:

On the master you will find this piece of writing here:

Step 3:

I was a little confused until I figured out that the outside folds were hills, and the inside folds are valleys.  I know about hills and valleys, I live at the foot of Rocky Mountains.

Step 4:

I cut out the top of the billows for the launcher.  I placed the ruler along the lone line that indicated that the fold was a valley, then, I folded it to be a valley.  I also cut out the hole where the launch tube will go.

Step 5:

Then I cut out the bottom of the billows for the launcher.  I placed the ruler along the lines that indicated that the folds were valleys,

Step 6:

and then I folded them to be valleys.

Step 7:

Next I cut the billows out.  This next part wasn’t so easy.  Part of each line was hill folds while the rest of the same line, are valley folds, and all these folds will make 90° corners made of more hill folds. 

Step 8:

So I carefully, creased the lines on front or back as needed to be able to create the right hills and valleys.

Step 9:

The best way to make the next step happen is to fold in the valleys and hills on each end, I used paper clips to hold the folds together.  Since the folds in the middle were the in the opposite direction of the ones on the ends, I carefully folded them in the opposite directions and made the 90° corners happen in the process.  Yes! It worked.

Step 10:

Next I glued where it says “glue this side to the top of the base plate” to the billows base, using the paint brush to spread a goodly amount of glue in the lightly shaded area, and stuck the pieces together. 

Step 11:

I then used paper clips to hold the parts together while they dried.

Step 12:

Next, I cut out the launch tube. 

Step 13:

I rolled the tube around the handle of the craft knife to that is was inclined to be round and then I used tape to make the tube.

Step 14:

I folded all the little triangles into valleys, and spread glue on the valley side tips and pushed it up through the hole in the top

Step 15:

and glued the little triangles to the bottom side of the top of the billows.

Step 16:

I then glued 3 of the 4 sides of the top of the billows to the accordion sides, right where it said to glue.  I used paper clips to hold the papers together while they dried.

Step 17:

Next I folded the valley fold on the bottom up and over the white triangles that were all together on each end of the billows.

Step 18:

Then I glued down the rest of the top to the bottom part.  More paper clips were put in use.  Set it aside to let it dry.

Step 19:

Next I cut out the rocket cap, and then I put some glue on the white area.

Step 20:

Then I over lapped the black area so that no white shows and paper clip them together until dry.

Step 21:

I then cut out the rocket, even the little white triangles.

Step 22:

I rolled the tube around the handle of the craft knife to that is was inclined to be round and then I used tape to make the tube.  This tube need to be a larger circumference, because it need go over the top of the launch tube.

Step 23:

Cut out the fins.  They come in sets of two pieces per fin. 

Step 24:

Fold the valleys and glue the main parts together.

Step 25:

Glue the tabs of the fins to the rocket.  The white area tells you where to glue.  This time the little triangles were folded into hills.  I put glue on the little triangles and, after removing the paper clip, stuck the cap on them.  Now let that dry.

Step 26:

Once everything is dry, I blew some air into the launch tube.  There was a leak and I used some tape to seal it off.  Next I pulled the billows out as much as it would go and still have hills and valleys, and I put the rocket on the launch tube.

Step 27:

Count from 3 to 1 back ward… 3..2..1.. and pushed down on the billows making the rocket blasted off.  That was pretty far considering the first one I made never left the launch pad.  Enjoy!
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