Awesome Water Rocket

Me and my gigantic water rocket in 2008

Me and my gigantic water rocket in 2008. Click for larger image

As we approach the summer solstice, minds at NPL turn inevitably towards the NPL Water Rocket Challenge. Sadly I have been too busy to prepare an entry this year, but I have consoled myself with the thought my gigantic 2008 entry has inspired a few people to ‘Think Big’.

NPL Water Rocket 2011

NPL Water Rocket 2011. The components circled in red are discussed in the text.Click for an even larger version!

And indeed last week I learned that  my colleague Richard Shaw has been working with our design and manufacturing gurus towards the construction of a truly awesome creation. And yes, I use the word awesome with its original connotation of inspiring fear. This device has 14 separate pressurised containers and a total pressurised volume of nearly 300 litres!

My rocket lacked rigidity because it was held together with Duck Tape – but the NPL team working on project Colossus have linked the bottles together with two rigid plates (shown circled in red on the picture above). But they had to make the plates very rigid, AND very light. I thought you might be interested to note that they solved this problem exactly as I described a week or so ago – using corrugated cardboard sandwiched between two sheets of thin carbon fibre.

Early tests indicate that it should make a good flight – but you will have to turn up on the day to see what actually happens. And by the way, I have heard whispers around the laboratory that we may also see one of the world’s smallest water rockets as well. Hope to see you on Wednesday.

  • You can find a guide to building water rockets here
  • And a software simulator for Windows, here,
Special thanks to the NPL team: Rob Roskilly, Mike Harrison, Richard Shaw and Michael Parfitt

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