Introduction: Powerful Paper Airsoft Rocket With Parachute

For years, i've always been fascinated by rocket, from their launch, to their parachute recovery and their sleek slimlined body. I've experimented with water rockets but they aren't that slimlined and is a bit difficult to make them longer and to custom shapes. So i decided to experiment with paper airsoft rockets since they can be built more streamlined and offer more flexibility in terms of design and shape. Also since the rockets are relatively light and made from paper, kids can launch them even without parachute since the paper will absorb the impact. I will try my best to explain every step in detail for beginners, Sorry for the long sentences :-)

If you like this project or idea, please vote for it in the Make It Fly contest if you think it deserves it. Thanks


Most of the materials used in this project can be found at home except for the pvc pipe/fittings. Also you can substitute some parts if you can't get hold of them.

For Rocket and Parachute

  1. Paper Deodorant ball(or pingpong ball)
  2. Cardboard
  3. Soda bottle
  4. Tape
  5. Nylon bag
  6. Nylon string


  1. Large Soda Bottle
  2. Shrader valv(bicycle/car tire valve)
  3. Two 1/2" pvc elbow connector
  4. 1/2" pvc end cap
  5. 1/2" pvc t-joint
  6. Approximately 1meter long 1/2" pvc pipe


  1. Hacksaw
  2. Hotglue
  3. Epoxy
  4. PVC cement(optional)

Step 1: Making the Fuselage

Draw a line straight up 2cm from the left side of the paper and another line 5cm from the right side. Roll the A3 paper lengthwise along a 1/2" pipe and then mark where the end edge of the paper meets with the rest of the paper(Please refer to thr pictures above). Unroll the paper and draw a line lengthwise along the mark you've made. The paper should now be divided into 6 parts. Use a ruler to divide the bottom right part lengthwise into three parts. These lines will be used to align the fins. Draw a line straight up 2cm to the left side of the middle bottom part(box) and divide it into four equal parts using a ruler,this will be the support arm alignment template. Roll back the paper into a tube and seal the edge with sellotape. Next, push the remaining pvc pipe into the paper tube until it reaches the top 2cm mark you've made and then push the paper inward to close the top of the tube. I used hotglue to seal the top.

Step 2: Nosecone and Parachute Deployment System

I made the nosecone from the top part of a soda bottle whose neck has being cut-off. I then sliced a deoderant roll-on ball (you can use a pingpong ball) in half using an x-acto knife and glued the half sphere to the top of the bottle neck. The parachute deployment system here is a nosecone fall, meaning the nose cone will be loosely mounted on top of the rocket body so that it will fall off due to wind/drag when the rocket starts to tip over(decelerate) at its maximum altitude releasing the parachute.

To make the nosecone support arms, cut-out 4 pieces of right-angled triangles 2cm high and 2.5cm wide. Now, you'll need to make a small groove so that the bottle top can sit on. Measure the bottom diameter of the bottle top and substract by the diameter of the fuselage(somewhere between 2cm-2.2cm), and then divide the answer by 2. In my case =1.6cm. This is the distance to make the groove from the 2cm high side of the traingle(See above pictures). Glue each of the support arm to each line of the support arm alignment template.

Step 3: The Fins

The fins stabilize and control the path of flight of the rocket. Since this is a small rocket, the shape of the fins doesn't really matter that much, but the alignment does matter. You can experiment with different fin shapes. Mine were three acute trapezoids.
I made the fins out of a thick cardstock paper(usually found in packaging). Start with a 5cm square and then mark a point 1cm from top-right vertice and another point 0.5cm from the bottom-right vertice, connect the two points to the top and bottom left vertices of the square respectively. Hotglue the fins to the fin alignment lines at the bottom of the rocket making sure they are aligned.

Step 4: Making the Parachute

I made the parachute out of a plastic bag as the chute doesn't need to be extraordinarily strong since the rocket is lightweight. Cut open the plastic bag and cut-out a large circle using a box-cutter/sharpie. I'm making a simple 8-point parachute. Here are the steps to make one.

1. Lay the circle on a flat surface.

2. Fold the circle in half.

3.Bring the right corner to the left corner of the semi-circle.

4.Fold the bottom-left side of the quadrant to the top side.

5.Cut-out a small piece of the top of the section.

6.Use a ruler to gently flatten and crease the edges. Unfold everything and you should end up with a circle evenly divided into 8 parts and a smaller circle in the middle.

To make the chute stronger, wrap a small piece of tape around each crease. Use a small screwdriver/pencil to make a hole approximately 0.5cm from each end of the crease. Cut 9 pieces of string approximately 30cm long and double tie to each hole. Bring all the ends of the strings and tie together. Also tie the 9th string to the bundle. This will be the shock-cord. To make the parachute compact, fold the chute in halves until you have the desired size and wrap the remaining string around it. For more information on parachutes and how to fold them, here's a useful website. Glue the end of the shock cord to the top of the rocket fuselage and put the parachuteon top of the rocket. Place the nosecone on top.

Step 5: Making the Launcher

I designed the launcher in a way so that i could use some parts i had from a previous project. You can modify the design as you wish but keep in mind that the ball valve needs to be between the air tank and the launch tube not between the air supply and launch tube. The launcher has an airtank so that a larger volume of air can be stored and then supplied to the rocket at an instant when the ball valve is opened and a removable launch tube for easy storage and for launching different sized rockets or multiple rockets.

Use a hacksaw to cut the pvc pipe into two 15cm long tubes, 8cm long, and two 4cm long pieces.The remaining length of the pipe will be the launch tube. The remaining length of the pipe will be the launch tube. Connect the two 15cm tubes together with a t-joint. Glue the 8cm long tube to the bottom of the t-joint. Your halfdone launcher should now look like a giant letter T. Next drill/make a hole about 1cm wide at the center of the pvc end cap. Push the schrader valve through the hole and use a plier with a piece of cloth wrapped around the valve to pull and wiggle the valve stem(not thread) in place until the groove on the stem gets sitted on the cap. Glue this to the bottom of the uncompleted t-shaped launcher.

Step 6: Airtank and Release System

Since the airtank we're gonna be using here is a soda bottle, then you'll need a way to connect the bottle to the pvc pipe. To do this, i simply cut round the inner circumference of the ring in the bottle cap which turned out to be a perfect fit. Sand the bottom of the bottle cap with a rough grit sandpaper and also one side of the pvc elbow so as to have a rough surface for epoxy to adhere to. Glue the 4cm long pipe into the sanded end of the pvc elbow and then push the bottle cap into the pipe. Secure everything in place with epoxy.Use a generous amount of epoxy as mine gave way and launched the Airtank Skyward while testing. Let everything dry and then glue it to the left side of the gigantic t-shaped launcher.

For the release system, simply glue together the ball valve and the other pvc elbow with the 4cm tube connecting them together. The open end of the pvc elbow should face to the left while the handle of the valve should face towards you. Glue this section to the right side of the launcher. Squirt some lubricant onto the valve where the valve handle enters the body.This will loosen the valve and make it easier to open/close. You can now insert the launch tube into the other end of the ball valve but do not glue it in place as this part of the launcher won't be pressurized. The launcher is now complete. if you want, you can attach the final launcher to a sturdy base(in my case MDF wood).

Step 7: Safeting Measures

As the plastic bottle is being pressurized, do not go over the top of the bottle as any failure in the joint can cause the bottle to launch, this's why the bottle is pointed upward not sideways.
Also when you are about to launch the rocket, be careful with your face and also be careful of the fins.
Periodically inspect the joint between the air chamber(bottle) and the launcher

Step 8: Test Flight

Upon completion, I realized that the rocket looks a bit like the SpaceX falcon 9.

My first attempt to launch at 30psi was succesful although the parachute got tangled, it did manage to bring back the rocket safely to the ground. Also i wrapped the parachute too tighly,i guess that's why. On the second launch, the parachute did not deploy, after having a closer look, i figured out that the parachute got stuck inside the nosecone(too loose). Despite the hard crash, it was still in good condition. My third attempt at 50psi was a complete success, fast,powerful launch and successful recovery. I will launch the rocket at night in three days time. So remember to check back.
Again, If you like this project or idea, please like and vote for it in the Make It Fly contest if you think it deserves it. Thanks

Step 9: Future Improvements

Like any other project, there are still some improvements that can be made. Some of the improvements that can be done include:

  1. Adding led for an awesome effect at night!
  2. Figuring out a way to launch the rocket at an angle while still having a parachute to deploy.
  3. Modifying the launcher to be able to launch multiple rockets at once e.g rocket with boosters.
  4. Adding another air chamber to the launcher to increase its total volume.

If you have another improvement that can be made, then don't hestitate to comment down below.

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