How to Choose a Model Rocket

The most import factor in choosing a model rocket is how much time is available to build the rocket, and how difficult should the assembly be. To help with this, the model rocket industry has a set of Model Rocket Skill Level standards, ranging from 1 (the easiest) to 4 (the hardest). A rocket will usually be Skill Level 1 unless otherwise stated.

Another factor is cost. Part of the model rocket product lines are bulk packs, which contain multiple rockets (usually 12 per box), which provide significant cost savings when buying rockets in bulk. If someone is just starting to get into rocketry, then the model rocket starter set is a great option as it contains the model rocket, a launch system, and the model rocket engines. Everything needed to build and launch a rocket.

The most exciting option is variety! There are hundreds of model rocket kits to choose from. Each offering a unique design, look, or flight style.

Rocket Build Time

Most often, a driving factor is how much time is available to build the rocket, such as with a Boy Scout meeting, school science class, church youth program, or summer camp.

The ready to fly style model rockets are the simplest since they require no assembly. Beyond that, there are a few things to look for:

  • Plastic fins are much easier to install than are balsa fins, especially when the plastic fins come as one unit that quickly glues onto the body tube.
  • Model rockets that do not require painting can be built much faster than those that require painting.
  • Smaller rockets are typically easier to build than longer rockets.
  • The model rocket glue chosen can have a big impact on assembly time, as a slow drying glue may not let the rocket be built in the amount of time available.
  • Rockets that have a separate motor mount kit are more complex since the motor mount kit must be pre-assembled first before it is installed into the rocket.
  • Single-stage rockets are MUCH simpler than multi-stage rockets.

Rocket Complexity

Once the appropriate type of rocket is determined by how much time is available, then the choice becomes how complex of a model rocket kit can the rocketeer build? There is no strict guidelines to this, as everyone is different. The adult supervisor should be able to judge the model building skill of the rocketeer and select an appropriately challenging model rocket.