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Don’t have the time or enough PVC pipe to build a heavy-duty launcher for your paper rocket? Don’t worry, you can launch a rocket with just a short piece of pipe, a recycled pile of “trash,” and a little bit of tape. It works a lot like the kind of Stomp Rocket you may have seen at the toy store, but you can make this one yourself!

The instructions below are just for the launcher. If you want to know more about making a rocket, we’ve used this template for the Compressed Air Rockets, adapted from a design by Rick Schertle. You’ll need paper and masking tape to build those, but you can put just about anything on this launcher. See step 10 of the Compressed Air Rocket project to learn more about making a paper rocket that fits on this design.

milkjuglauncher Milk Jug Rocket Launcher

img 45041 e1404156423640 Milk Jug Rocket Launcher

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Steps

Step #1: Collect your materials.

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • Use a bike inner tube that is beyond repair. It's fine if it's full of pinprick leaks that you don't want to patch. I pumped mine up first to make sure that I used the worst of my collection of old inner tubes.
  • You may want to have a spare milk jug or two around, too, as the plastic may break after repeated launches.

Step #2: Remove the valve.

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher

Cut the inner tube on each side of the valve.

Step #3: Attach the tube to the milk jug.

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • Stretch one end of the tube over the mouth of the milk jug. This may require extra strength from an adult. Try to get it far down over a ridge.
  • Add some duct tape around it to keep it snug.

Step #4: Attach tube to pipe.

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • Wrap the other end of the tube around one end of the pipe.
  • Add some duct tape around this end of the tube it to keep it snug and minimize air leaks.

Step #5: Make a rocket!

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Milk Jug Rocket LauncherMilk Jug Rocket LauncherMilk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • The instructions below are just for the launcher. If you want to know more about making a rocket, we've used this template for the Compressed Air Rockets, adapted from a design by Rick Schertle. You need paper and masking tape to build those, but you can put just about anything on this launcher. See step 10 of the Compressed Air Rocket project to learn more about making a paper rocket that fits on this design.
  • Rocket instructions: http://makezine.com/projects/make-15/compressed-air-rocket/
  • Template: http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/rocket-form-template.pdf
  • TIP: have extra pieces of pipe with the same diameter to use as a physical form, so you can wrap your paper at the right tightness--not too tight (or it won't be able to slide off) and not too loose (or the air will escape out the back instead of propelling it forward.)

Step #6: Put your rocket on the end of the pipe.

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher

Slide the rocket over the open end of the pipe, but not as far down as the duct tape.

Step #7: Prepare for Launch!

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • Hold the pipe over the duct tape. Make sure you're not touching the rocket.
  • Aim the rocket up ... or at least away from everyone else.
  • Lay the tube flat so that there are no kinks or folds in your line that would slow your launch.

Step #8: Count down to BLAST OFF!

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Milk Jug Rocket Launcher
  • Pick the person who can stomp the hardest. Or find a place to grab onto something while you jump onto the jug with all your weight. You need a lot of force to crush the milk jug!
  • Count down: 3....2....1....
  • Jump onto the jug and watch your rocket fly!

Step #9: Refuel the launch pad.

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Milk Jug Rocket LauncherMilk Jug Rocket LauncherMilk Jug Rocket Launcher

Wash off the pipe's end with soap and water, dry it off, and blow air back into the jug so you'll have some "fuel" to launch the next rocket.

Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka

Michelle, or Binka, is the Director of Custom Programs for Maker Media, overseeing publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.


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