Golden Words DIY: Build your own rocket


*Disclaimer* While Golden Words does “employ” five EngPhys majors, we have given this article to a writer whose knowledge of the laws of spaceflight is limited to repeated viewings of Apollo 13 and Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’. So besides knowing that “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids”, you should probably not trust the following article to give you a reliable model for spaceflight for under $50. However, if you’re drunk tonight and looking to find some cheap thrills via blowing up your neighbourhood, you should find the following enjoyable.

TL;DR – There is probably close to 0% truth to any of this science.


This is a true story- in my basement back home, my Dad has a book from the early 80’s called “The Space Shuttle Operator’s Manual”. Being an avid young reader, I devoured that book full of proper diagrams, procedures and protocol for operating the world’s most expensive flying machine. Throughout childhood, I wanted to be an astronaut (or, at the very least a cosmonaut – I was more than willing to become a communist for this privilege). However, when I was 12, it all came to a shocking halt when I discovered that astronauts cannot be deaf. I’m deaf so this was a crushing blow. But it never destroyed my dream of going to space, even if I had to work outside of the system.


Thus I present to you my secret step-by-step process for building your own rocket.


(WARNING: If you are a member of ISIS; The KGB; or a Western Student, you should stop reading now for your own good. We wouldn’t want this dangerous info falling into the wrong hands.)


Most of the following supplies can be purchased for a total of under $50 from your local hardware store or weapons dealer.



  • Good spirits! (by which I mean alcohol)
  • A strong team behind you (Can’t spell Large Orbital Projectile without TEAM)
  • 18L of Liquid Hydrogen & 12L of Liquid Oxygen (if unavailable, substitute 2L bottle of Coke and pack of Mentos)
  • An appropriate launch site, preferably at least 3 km in all directions from habitable dwellings. I suggest Leonard Field.
  • 1.5-inch-thick Titanium to be constructed into rocket body. Can usually find rummaging through your neighbour’s recycling.
  • An adventurous pilot. I would recommend one of your more ‘disposable’ housemates.
  • Plenty of imagination! (and preferably a PhD in aeronautical engineering)

The Process:


Step 1: Coffee break!

Step 2: Ok, time to get the ball rolling. Now let’s seeeee… Uh, Steve, why don’t you gather up all those screws and, uh…I’ll go see if I can start molding the titanium and…NONONO JACK DON’T DROP THAT CIGARETTE!

Step 3: Funeral Break

Step 4: Fuck it, check the Instruction Manual.

And there you go! So with some hard work and a little bit of luck, you can build your rocket and, like me, achieve your dream of being an astronaut. It may end up costing you a little bit more than $50 – some guys I know spend like $75 so they could give it a nice paint job, and NASA spent $209 Billion, so they gotta be doing something right.