Introduction: Prodigious Paper Rockets!

About: Happily retired.....
This instructable is for the Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest and just plain fun. Paper rockets have come a long way from the straw rocket and these rockets can fly 300 to 600 feet depending on design and how much air pressure has been placed in the launcher.

This instructable primarily addresses the construction of the paper rocket. The launchers that you see in the video were constructed out of PVC pipe and were modified from original instructions that are attached. I was able to build two launchers for $100 and had enough stuff left over to start a third.

Step 1: Supplies

The supply list is very short for building paper rockets.

1. 8.5 x 11 Card Stock.
2. A short length of 3/4 inch PVC pipe. (about 18 inches works well)
3. A pair of scissors.
4. Elmer's Glue All (white glue)
5. You may want to use high gloss enamel spray paint after the construction is complete.

Step 2: Making the Rocket Body...

Use the 3/4 inch PVC pipe as a form to create your rocket body. (Or the size of your launch tube if you modify the launcher construction.)

1. You have a few choices on rocket length.
a. Turn the card stock on its side (landscape) and roll it onto the PVC pipe. (pictured)
b. Turn the card stock straight up and down (portrait) and roll it onto the PVC pipe.
c. Longer rockets can be made by creatively joining tubes.

2. You want to keep the card stock as straight as you can on the PVC pipe and use a rolling pin
action to tighten the card stock onto the PVC pipe. You want some tension, but not too tight.

3. Once you are satisfied with the card stock tube, back off the roll about 1.5 inches.

4. Evenly spread a layer of white glue (Elmer's) along this section and roll it back into shape. Do not use too much glue because it will just squeeze out when you roll the tube again.

5. Set it aside to dry. When dry, it should slip off the PVC pipe with just a little tension.

Step 3: Rest of the Rocket Parts...

While the rocket body is drying design your rocket fins and nose cone. Just a couple of hints...

1. A rocket that flies a long distance has a long slender nose and fins large enough to provide stability,
but small enough not to create too much drag (resistance in the atmosphere).

2. You may be more interested in designing a rocket that is unique, but does not fly very far.

Step 4: Plug on End of Rocket Tube...

This is a very, very important step and time and attention to detail are essential.

1. Use the PVC pipe to trace 5 to 6 circular plugs. You can make one trace and fold up the card stock and cut them out at the same time.

2. Slip the dried rocket tube back on to the PVC pipe and slide it down until the PVC tube is 1/4 inch from the edge of the rocket tube. This will give you a foundation for gluing the plugs.

3. Place one plug on the foundation and spread a bead of white glue around the edge. Use your finger to spread it evenly over the whole plug and let it sit for a few minutes. Then take another plug and place it on top of the first and repeat the process. Continue this way until all the plugs have been used.

4. Set the PVC pipe-rocket tube vertically and let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Keep in mind that all the air pressure of the launch tube must be contained in the rocket cylinder. If the plugs are weak, the nose cone will be blown off the rocket and the rocket will remain on the launch tube. There is no such thing as too much reinforcement and make sure to let the plugs dry at least 24 hours.

Step 5: The Nose Cone...

1. Take the nose cone and place it into the open end of the rocket body. Draw a line where it fits snug with the body. Trim the nose cone around this line. Lay the nose cone next to the body to see if they fit.

2. Next, take some paper towel or tissue and tear it up into little pieces. You are going to use this material to fill up the hollow space inside the cone. This is another important step because the solid nose cone adds a small amount of weight to the nose of the rocket and increases the survivability of the nose cone when the rocket comes down. These rockets do not have parachutes.

3. Use layers to fill up the cone. Pour some white glue into the cone and then stuff a small amount of paper in. (This is pretty messy) Push the wadding down with a finger. Then add the second layer by adding more glue and putting more paper into the cone. Press them down with your finger and continue until the cone is full. Set it aside and let it dry for 24 hours.

4. Last step. Glue the nose cone to the rocket body on the side that has been plugged up. (Very important - Glue it on the end you have plugged up!)

Step 6: Rocket Fins...

1. Begin to attach your fins. Take your time. Do them one at a time and let them set before adding another. The most common fin placements have 3 or 4 fins. (Two fins will not provide stability on each axis)

2. What you end up with is a paper rocket ready to be finished. You can paint it, use markers or crayons on it, or just leave as it is.

3. It is suggested that once the fins have dried that you spread another bead of white glue along the seams to reinforce them. These rockets go from a static display to top velocity in the blink of an eye and if the fins are not attached well, they will tear off.

Good Luck and Happy Launching...
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