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Safety Guide

Safety is very important with any rocket. Rockets are safe when everyone understands and abides by safe behavior. Only plastic drink bottles should be used, and new bottles should be used whenever possible. Bottles should be retired from use after 10-15 launches.

CAUTION: Children should be closely supervised when they are using rockets. Even if they understand and agree to the safety rules, there will be lapses in concentration or judgment. Children cannot be made responsible for the safety of others. A child may feel it is enough to tell a two-year old to stay out of the way.

Launch Safety Instructions:

  • Select a grassy field or athletic practice field that measures at least 30 meters in width. Place the launcher in the center of the field and anchor it in place. (If it is a windy day, place the launcher closer to the side of the field from which the wind is blowing so that the rocket will drift onto the field as it descends.)
  • As you set up your rocket on the launch pad, observers should stand back several meters. It is recommended that you rope off the launch site.
  • Do not point your water rocket at another person, animal, or object. Water rockets take off with a good deal of force from the air pressure and weight from the water.
  • The team member responsible for pumping air into the rocket should wear eye protection. The bottle rocket should be pumped no higher than about 50 pounds of pressure per square inch, but never above 90 psi. Before launching, consult the following table provided for coaches in the Science Olympiads:
Table of Distances for a Given Pressure
Typical Classroom Maximums
20 psi

26 meters

40 psi
51 meters
60 psi
77 meters
80 psi
102 meters
  • When pressurization is complete, everyone should stand in back of the roped off area for the countdown. Two-liter bottles can weaken and will explode. Bottles should be retired from use after 10-15 launches.
  • Continue to countdown and launch the rocket only when the recovery range is clear.
  • If you do not experience successful liftoff, remember that the bottle is pressurized and may blast off when you touch it. Be careful; do not let it hit you. Never stand over the rocket.
  • A team member should retrieve the rocket.


Any comments, concerns, or questions should be addressed to:    

Developer: David Mazza    
Responsible NASA Official: Jo Ann Charleston    

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