Weekend Activity Low Cost Air Rocket Launcher for Paper Rocket

Resource Info

Basic Information

Flying air rockets is a relatively safe and inexpensive way for students to learn the basics of forces and the response of a vehicle to external forces. A model air rocket is subjected to four forces in flight; weight, thrust, and the aerodynamic forces, lift and drag. Here's a making of the simplest one that uses compressed air.

01 hours 30 mins

Students stomp or jump on an empty 2-liter soft drink (“pop”) bottle and force the air inside through connected plastic pipes to propel a paper rocket.


To construct a simple air pressure launcher for paper rockets. You may explore air drag, lift, Newton's 3rd Law of Motion, projectile motion with the senior graders.

Activity Steps: 

The launcher has a base to support the rocket during launch. A hollow launch tube is mounted perpendicular to the base and is inserted into the base of the rocket before launch. The launch tube is connected to empty water bottle by a hollow feeder line. The empty water bottle is used to pressurize the inside of the body tube to provide thrust for the rocket.  For many air rockets, the pump or water bottle is simply a cylinder which can be collapsed by striking with your hand or foot, In our project, we are going to hit the bottle and launch the rocket.

The other part of the air rocket system is the rocket itself. The rocket has a hollow body tube which is opened on one end and closed at the other end by the nose cone. The body tube is only slightly larger than the launcher tube and launcher tube connected with empty water bottle, the rocket is placed on the launch tube, the body tube becomes a closed pressure vessel. The pressure inside the body tube equals the pressure produced by the water bottle. Fins are attached to the bottom of the body tube to provide stability during the flight.

Materials Needed
1.    Empty (and rinsed) 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle,
2.    1/2” elbow connectors- 2 nos.
3.    Electrical wire pipe – 2ft.
4.    1/2” PVC pipe Duct tape
Ruler Optional: PVC cutter, Eye protection for anyone near launcher


Project estimate total cost
 10 rupees only, (2 rupees for paper rocket, and electrical wiring black pipe – 2 ft. Duct tape).

Making of the launcher & rocket
1. Cut the Electrical wire pipe into the following lengths:  1 pieces 40cm” long 2 pieces 10 cm” long
2. Insert the end of one 40cm pipe a few inches into the neck of the bottle and tape it securely with duct tape.  

3.  Insert the other end of 40cm pipe a few inches into elbow and tape it securely with duct tape.

4. Insert the end of elbow one 10cm pipe into the neck of elbow and tape it securely with duct tape.