5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... Ignition! (in 10 minutes or less)
For these little rockets, first you absolutely must find a safe "test range" to launch them. They're small, but they can fly a long way, and sometimes they're still hot and aglow when they land. Often they don't fly the trajectory you plan, and they can start a major unintentional fire unless they're launched in a very safe place. Please, don't experiment with these little missiles around dry grass, buildings, trees, or civilization. Real rocket scientists use their heads, especially when they choose a test site.
You can experiment with variations, but we've had the best success with the design described below. If you use these exact components, you'll be flying in next to no time.
Components and Tools List
Several "strike-anywhere" type wooden kitchen matches
A small swatch of thin kitchen-type aluminum foil
- Cut a small square of aluminum foil, about an inch square
- Very tightly wrap the foil around the head of a match
- Use a twisting motion to make the foil wrapper tight
- Place the prepared match-stick rocket on a suitable launching platform, angled about 45-degrees upward
- Put on some safety goggles, clear the area of spectators, give a countdown warning, and heat the foil-wrapped match head with another match, or a cigarette lighter
- After a few seconds heating, the rocket will sail away, sometimes in a more or less straight line
Experiment with thicker and thinner foil, and more or less wrapping, so you get the right combination of a tight, flame-proof seal without too much added weight. If you can manage a straight-line flight of 20 feet, you're doing good!
Except in this simple design, matches and match heads are NOT suitable for use as rocket propellant. Do NOT even think of putting match heads into a container, to make a rocket. Dozens of experimenters have lost their hands, their eyes, and worse attempting to use match heads as rocket fuel. Please don't do it. Instead, get a good book about simple rocket propellants (we have several in our eBay Store) and learn about how to do it safely, legally, and successfully.
Model rocket engines can be built and flown safely, if it's done the right way. Check out books like Amateur Rocket Motor Construction, Guide to Amateur Rocketry, and Building Amateur Rockets for terrific ideas, plans, and propellant formulations that work. They're listed in our eBay Store.
And see our other eBay Guides for information on related rocket science subjects.