How to Make a DIY Rocket You Can Launch From Home
Calling all future NASA rocket engineers!
Erica Silverstein · 5 days ago
You don’t have to be a grownup to design, build, and fly your own rocket. You also don’t need to buy expensive model rockets, engines, or generators to send your creations skyward. Just choose your propulsion style — air, fire, rubber band — and hit up a hardware store to create a DIY rocket you can launch from your backyard...or any safe, obstacle-free area close to your house.
Baking Soda and Vinegar Rocket
What do volcanoes and rockets have in common? Answer: You can make DIY versions of both with everyone’s favorite reactive chemicals, baking soda and vinegar. Andrew W.K. shows you how you can launch a rocket made of a two-liter bottle using pantry staples for power. (We do not recommend you launch this rocket indoors—this thing really moves.)
DIY Stomp Rockets
Even NASA scientists love stomp rockets, the birthday-party-activity favorite that uses your own jumping, stomping power to send foam-and-plastic rockets onto your friends’ roof—or up into nearby trees. You can purchase stomp rockets pre-made at the Camp store, or follow these instructions from a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech. (Yeah, that’s some real rocketeering street cred right there.) Create your launch pad from PVC pipes and the ever-so-useful two-liter soda bottle, and make your rocket out of paper, then take the whole set-up outside and start the countdown!
Alka Seltzer Film Canister Rocket
Little rockets can still be big fun, especially when you want to make a rocket you can safely launch indoors. Ask your parents to acquire some plastic film canisters — don’t worry, they’ll explain what film is and how it was used in old-timey cameras. These will form the body of your mini-rocket. A little water and an Alka Seltzer tablet — yeah, you’re probably too young to know about heartburn and indigestion too, but just roll with it — will serve as your reactive rocket fuel to propel those film canisters into the air.
Air pressure and chemicals are all right, but sometimes what you really want is firepower. Grant Thompson, a.k.a. The King of Random, can teach you how to build a tiny yet mighty rocket using match heads, wooden skewers, and aluminum foil. His clever design is portable — because you'll definitely want to find an open space, like an empty parking lot, to launch these little missiles. Thompson claims they can fly up to 40 feet and leave an impressive smoke trail in their wake. (Check out the rest of his YouTube channel for more advanced home rocket building that definitely requires parental supervision.)
Water Bottle Rocket
Newton said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If knowledge is power, you can use your knowledge of his third law of motion to power a water bottle rocket. Your soda bottle design will be similar to the baking soda-and-vinegar rocket, but your propulsion won’t come from a chemical reaction. Instead, the Sci Guys demonstrate how to use a bike pump to increase the air pressure in the rocket, which forces the plug out of the bottle, sending the water pouring out of the bottle (action) and the rocket soaring into the sky (reaction). This experiment is dubbed NSFH (not safe for home), so take your launch party outside.
Plastic Straw Rocket
Our friends at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab might spend their time inventing technology to aid in space exploration, but they also know how to liven up a rainy day with easy DIY plastic straw rockets. You don’t need a Texas-sized launch site to shoot off these tiny paper rockets. A big breath and a straw will send them soaring across your living room. Master the design, then let the competition begin! Experiment with the size and design of the rocket’s fins and nose cone, or even the type of paper you use to build the body, and see which design will fly the farthest.
Foam Rocket Flinger
Yes, the very serious folks at the Arizona Science Center will teach you how to build a rubber-band powered rocket that you can fling — ahem, launch, at your sister, parents, and dog. The fuselage is a pool noodle, the fins are cardboard, and the fuel is that rubber band you may already know how to let fly with a quick finger flick. This easy indoor rocket will teach you about science, but it’s probably best if you don’t launch it at your family members and pets.