Ping Pong Parachute

How To Reduce The Weight Of Your Rocket

what is ping pong parachute

Ping pong parachute is an engineering-based event hosted by Science Olympiad where students are tasked to build and test a bottle rocket indoors that deploys a parachute that holds a ping pong ball. The objective to achieve the highest time aloft for the ping pong ball. These concepts also apply to Indoor Bottle Rocket, another event held by Science Olympiad. 

In this post, we will discuss how you can reduce the weight of your ping pong parachute bottle rocket.

how to reduce weight

Why is reducing weight important?

LBecause you are only limited to 60 psi to launch your bottle rocket, you should make an effort to keep your bottle rocket light so that the bottle rocket can reach the ceiling of the testing site. The lighter your rocket is, the higher it will launch.

Because you are confined to use a 1 liter bottle the only components that you can truly alter are the rocket fins and the rocket fuselage. For rocket fins, I would advise using extremely thin plastic (between 0.010″ and 0.020″) as it is extremely light but still sturdy enough to survive high pressure launches and hard falls. 

The Fuselage

For the rocket fuselage, many teams will use cylindrical ceiling light tubes, which can be an effective material but only with some modifications: the entire tube is not necessary so I would advise cutting off part of the tube and sanding the inside of the tube to reduce weight. 

However, if you are skilled with rolling balsa tube, it can be even more effective to simply make the fuselage from rolling a sheet of balsa wood.

Fin Material

Because you are confined to use a 1 liter bottle the only components that you can truly alter are the rocket fins and the rocket fuselage. For rocket fins, I would advise using extremely thin plastic (between 0.010″ and 0.020″) as it is extremely light but still sturdy enough to survive high pressure launches and hard falls.

The shape of the fins are not as important as the material only because the time the rocket is in the air is not measured; only the parachute time is measured.

Pressure vessel

For the pressure vessel, there is only so much that you can do to reduce weight without violating any of the Science Olympiad rules. As for what you can do, you can remove the label from the bottle. 

This will allow you to be better able to attach and align your fins onto the pressure vessel. However, it is also important to not discard the label because it is required that you present that label to the event supervisor at your competition to abide by the rules.

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