It's either going to be a big success or...

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Well-Known Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Well, I decided to push cardstock model rocketry to its upper limits. I wanted to see just how large I could make a rocket out of cardstock and still launch it with an Estes E9. The result: a 4" diameter Red Max upscale!

Here are the parts ready for assembly:
Here's the fin can. Those fins are made from two layers of cardboard with crossed grain for strength, covered by two pages of 110# cardstock printed on my Epson printer.
And here is the assembled rocket, ready for its chutes and nose weight. Rocksim says it will get about 300 feet on an E9, but I will weigh it and run the actual numbers through Rocksim before actually launching it. This thing is bigger than I expected, that's a standard Alpha sitting next to it for scale.

Like the title says, it's going to be a spectacular success or... ;)

SWEET! :cool: :D Good luck too!

I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people who'll be scratching their heads over you building a rocket that large out of paper (cardstock), but I say just refer them to the FlisKits' Midnight Express... When laid flat, paper indeed has little strength but it becomes suprisingly rigid & strong when formed into certain shapes.

You just never know if it's gonna work...but it never hurts to try!

BTW, I can tell you've already invested a lot of time into building this one, but what about building an all white version to test. No point in abusing your masterpiece without (potentially) sacrificing your work... ;)

Way to push the envelope :D
Looks great! The large diameter should help. Can you share the details of the fins/rings? One layer of cardstaock, 2, 3...?

Well, best of luck. Can't wait for the flight report.

PS Wish I had thought of this idea ;)
Well, the cardboard I am using is something like a thin brown bristol board - it is about .053" thick. The fins are made from two layers each of the cardboard and 110# cardstock (which is about .005" thick). So each fin is about .116" thick.

The centering rings (there are 6) are one of the keys of the design - they are what keeps the outer skin round. They are made from one layer of cardboard and one layer of cardstock - thickness about .058".

The rocket has a .96" diameter stuffer tube running nearly the length of the rocket, and the fins go through the outer skin and are also glued to the stuffer tube - so the rocket is, in reality, like a 1" diameter rocket with a 4" skin wrapped around it - the outer skin does little for the rocket's longitudinal strength.

The nose cone is one cone, two transitions and one cylinder. There is a 1/2" foam core disk in the base of the shoulder.

I plan to put two 12" parachutes in the rocket for recovery. There is a 3-1/2" chute compartment above the stuffer tube. I didn't have any kevlar cord, so I used four strands of cotton thread for the shock cord. I cut a hole in the top centering ring and looped the string around the stuffer tube - that sucker ain't going anywhere!

All in all, I figure there are about 18 or 19 pages of printed cardstock that went into it. The forward and aft body tube sections take two pages each.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to launch it with ;)

Attached is a pdf file outlining the dimensions and positions of the parts.

I really have a feeling that will go higher than 300 feet, what does it weigh? I am guessing close to nothing
Originally posted by Justin Horne
But at the same time, weighing so little, it will slow dows really fast.. I think...

You're right...not to mention that there is a greater drag from the large diameter (surface area).
Given the relatively thick fins, the diameter, the stuffer tube, etc. this sounds like it has a very high chance of success :)
This is similar in concept and execution to the paper V2 highlighted in Sport Rocketry a few issues ago. Great idea and good job! I think it will fly well and I would also have to believe it will go higher than 300'.
Just wanted to say this looks incredible Greg.
Thanks for linking from the other thread or I would have missed it.
Good luck with the flight. I believe it will be a great success.

One question, is the stuffer tube also rolled from card stock?

That's awesome! Landings might be interesting! Looks great!
Originally posted by slim_t
Just wanted to say this looks incredible Greg.
Thanks for linking from the other thread or I would have missed it.
Good luck with the flight. I believe it will be a great success.

One question, is the stuffer tube also rolled from card stock?


Yup - the whole rocket is cardstock from the nosecone to the stuffer tube. The fins are two layers of cardboard covered with cardstock. Now I just have to put the launch lugs on and the recovery system in and she's ready to fly - hopefully in a couple of weeks (gotta go to a gaming convention next week, and the preparations are time consuming!)