Like to launch water boost rockets?
You might have enjoyed making your own paper rockets and watching
them soar in the air. Each time you see your paper rocket fly off, the
desire to make a real rocket must have increased. So, how would you feel
if you were given an opportunity to make your own miniature rocket using
advanced components rather than mere sheets of paper?
However, this is something you really can do in this country itself,
thanks to the initiatives taken by the Arthur C. Clarke Centre Institute
for Modern Technology (ACCIMT) which organises a competition in this
This year’s venture of the ‘Water Boost Rocket’ competition took
place on September 27, and today we will give you details about this
amazing competition as well as the interesting piece of science called
the Water Boost Rocket.
Indika Medagangoda, a Research Scientist of the Space Applications
Division of the ACCIMT, who also happens to be the driving force behind
the competition, filled us in about this exciting initiative.
The Water Boost Rocket Competition has been an annual competition
held by the ACCIMT since 2005. This is held because the ACCIMT is a
member of the Space Awareness and Education Working Group of the Asia
Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) and this latter
organisation had decided in 2004 to conduct competitions to kindle up
the enthusiasm among children.
Working Group members are entrusted with the task of organising the
national level competitions, and Medagangoda is the Working Group member
who is acting on behalf of the Space Applications Division of the ACCIMT.
The competition is open to children between 12-16 years and the
winners, along with their teachers will be sponsored to attend the
regional competitions held in the country hosting the annual meeting of
Winners of the 2005 and 2006 Sri Lankan competitions went to Japan
and Indonesia respectively.
Sri Lanka won third place at the competition held in Japan. In 2007,
the number of winners sponsored to take part in the regionals was
increased from one to five and the winners flew to India to take part in
the regional competition. In addition, since 2006, it has been decided
to hold workshops before the competition in order to give the students a
good knowledge about Water Boost Rockets.
The competition mainly focus on the stability and the launcher of the
rocket. Contestants are given a target in terms of distance for the
rockets to land and marks are given accordingly taking into account the
deviations from the target. The rockets leave the launcher and travel as
a projectile and land on the ground.
The success depends on many factors such as the proportion of water
inside the rocket, pressure, stability, launch angle and so on. Students
of schools with Astronomical Societies which have registered under the
Space Applications Division of the ACCIMT can participate in these
annual competitions. All it takes is a free registration and the
membership would definitely give exposure to many exciting things like
This year’s competition was held on September 27 at the University of
Moratuwa playground. The winners will compete at the regionals in
Vietnam. Even though some of you couldn’t register for this year’s
event, you could target next year’s competition.
How to make a water boost rocket
Where the construction of the rocket is concerned, it is pretty
simple and can be done using plastic bottles (PET bottles). A nozzle
should be attached to the opening of the bottle, and this would act as
the exhaust of the rocket or the ‘boattail’. Attach fins to the bottle
symmetrically around the nozzle. Thereafter, make the ‘nose cone’ of the
rocket on the bottom part of the bottle. Now that the construction is
done, next would be to launch it.
The launcher should have a valve which can fit tightly to the nozzle
(air tight) and it should also have a mechanism to release from the
nozzle instantly. Then connect the valve to an air pump like a bicycle
pump. With this set up, next fill a portion of the bottle with water by
pouring water in through the nozzle.
Attach it to the valve of the launcher. The rocket should be in an
upright or angled position at this stage. Thereafter, pressurise the
content within the bottle by pumping air into it. Once the air and water
get sufficiently pressurised, stop pumping and release the valve. The
rocket will shoot out from its launcher according to Newton’s Third Law!
Although this sounds simple, precision and predictability is really
important to get successful results and avoid accidents. Therefore, any
attempt to make this should be under the supervision of a knowledgeable
- Aravinda Dassanayake