Advanced Bottle Rocketry

Project Status: COMPLETE


Goal: Make a large bottle rocket out of standard soda bottles capable of carrying a camera payload and returning safely via parachute.

Outcome: Semi-successful. The original goal was to make a rocket out of 2L bottles and drop-away boosters, like this:

However, initial attempts to use PVC cement with all of the 2L bottles was unsuccessful, and they were no longer suitable for re-use with PL Premium, as other water rocket hobbyists have done. Only 1L bottles were available in the quantity I needed them in, so I switched to that. The original launcher was built for 2L bottle sizes, so boosters were no longer an option.

2 rockets were created, one slightly larger than the other, each with a different parachute deployment mechanism. At the time I didn’t have the time (or spare change) to create an intricate mechanical or electronic deployment mechanism, so I resolved to two methods: the first was a “magnetic tumbler” system, seen here:

The other was a simple weighted nosecone designed to “fall off” at apogee, exposing the parachute. Neither system worked.


Initial test of the launcher on a 1L bottle:


Test of the rocket using glued-together bottle caps (with holes drilled for air/water flow) to attach rocket segments together:

^the above test, as you can clearly see, was unsuccessful. The pressure was too much. I eventually just glued in short pieces of PVC pipe with PL premium. I wanted to avoid this because if the rocket did crash,  damaged segments could no longer be swapped out.


LAUNCH DAY: (skip to 0:50 if you just want to see the good stuff):

Now let’s not forget, this thing was almost as tall as I was and the video was filmed with the world’s crappiest camera from a 70ft cliff about 100 yards away. That rocket sounded like a MISSILE. I must also add in that we never found that second rocket. I’d like to think that it made it into space, but it probably nailed the building/shed not too far away. Google Earth coordinates to come soon.


Here’s the picture gallery:

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