Revised 3rd Edition, Copyright: 2008

Model Rocket Design And Construction

  • Author: Timothy S. Van Milligan
  • ISBN: 978-0-9653620-2-3
  • Format: Paperback
  • Date Published: 10/01/2008

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How much money can you save by building your own designs instead of from a commercial kit? You'll have money left over to buy motors to fly it! Learn the tricks and tips that the experts use to design rockets that are both lightweight and durable.
You Can Design and Build Truly Awesome Rockets!

Rocket Science -- Simplified! That's what this 328 page book is all about. It takes the all the tough aspects of creating unique looking rockets, and breaks it down into easy and simple steps. And we really mean "simple!"

When you get this book in your hands and start flipping through the pages, the very first thing you'll notice is that it is stuffed full of illustrations and pictures. The reason for this is that pictures is the perfect way to make complex subjects easier to understand. Even youngsters will be able to grasp the concepts in this book because of all the illustrations. Because of this, the book makes a great gift for your student that has an interest in rocketry.

But really, what is "rocket science?" You're probably thinking that rocketry is easy and you've got along well without a manual like this book.

You're right. In a way, model rocketry is simple. It uses common items like tubes, centering rings, and balsa wood for fins.

Rocket Schematic
Where it gets more complex is when you want to make rockets that have unique and eye-catching shapes to them. Not only are they harder to build, but they may not fly as straight as simple rockets. It also gets harder to figure out which rocket engines to use for them, and if they are tough enough to withstand repeated launches.
Model Rocket Design and Construction will walk you through all those important topics. Additionally, it will guide you through the process of building high quality rockets that will be the envy of all your friends. It takes more to make rockets than quality parts. It takes a good fit where parts mate together. This is especially important when you are making your own components from items around your house. Sanding Centering rings


Download A Large Sample Of the Book NOW!

We're so confident you'll love this book, we'll give you a free sample of more than 2-1/2 chapters! No conditions attached! Just Click Here (1.6 MB pdf).

You will hear the plain speech in the text, you will see the instructive nature of the photographs, and you will behold the clarity of the illustrations. You will feel that it was written to elevate you from a novice modeler into an expert designer and craftsman. This is a .pdf document; and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.


Its stuffed with all kinds of secret building tips!

If you've ever talked with someone that has a copy of this book, they'll tell you that it is stuffed-to-the-gills with all sorts of tips and tricks. There are a lot of secret techniques the author learned when he was a designer with Estes Industries.

It includes things like how to get that perfect paint finish, and how to repair rockets that suffered landing damage. You'll also find tips on how to build for maximum strength without sacrificing performance by making the rocket too heavy. These are real aeronautical principles that most modelers don't seem to know about.

Why not take 2 1/2 minutes now to order this money-saving book for some rocketeer in your life. Not only will they learn all of the expert building tips, but also save a lot of money by making their own rockets out of inexpensive materials.

Inline fins


So you think you know it all about building rockets? Here's a test:
  • What thickness of wood should you use for fins a rocket powered by a D motor?
  • What are the nine types of fin construction? Rank them from weakest to strongest.
  • What are the other five different recovery methods besides: parachute, streamer, glider, and helicopter recovery?
  • What size wing do you need for a rocket glider using a "C" size engine?
  • How does high power construction differ from small rockets?

How did you do? If you couldn't answer them, you'll be happy to know the answers are in the book Model Rocket Design & Construction. It was written for modelers that want to build their own designs.

This 328 page reference book is the classic "how-to" design manual for model rockets. With over 453 photographs and illustrations, this is the book that will turn you from an average modeler into a real rocketry expert. I guarantee it!

In this book, you'll also learn important
things like:

  • Five "light-weight" ways to reinforce fins.
  • Airfoils on fins.
  • Four ways to secure a motor when using a minimum diameter rocket tube.
  • How to make a fin alignment jig.
  • How to get a glass-smooth paint finish.
  • Two light-weight methods of strengthening body tubes.
  • Three ways to build rockets that don't require recovery wadding.
  • Four ways to anchor shock cords in large rockets.
  • Eight types of rocket glider (RG) designs.
  • How to design helicopter recovery models.
  • Staging and clustering techniques.
  • Repairing damaged rockets.
  • And much, much more...
Each page is blanketed with drawings
Each page is packed with drawings!
After you're done reading this book, you'll know more "how-to" information that most people that call themselves rocket experts. That is why you should order this book right now.


This Design Book Saves You Money!

Many people have told me that this book is a bargain at just $36.00. Here's why...

Consider the average price of most Estes, LOC and PML kits these days. You know how expensive they are: $20, $60, $100 or more. It isn't like the good-old-days, when a $20 was the most expensive kit in the entire catalog.

To combat these higher prices, you should be designing and building your own rocket kits. For less than the price of most any medium size rocket kit, you can own this book. Once you do, you'll have the all guidance you need to make your own rockets. Most of the time, you can make them from inexpensive household items.

Imagine getting three or four new rockets added to your fleet for the price of just one "kit" rocket you bought from the store. And then do this month after month. In a year, you'll have a huge rocket fleet. By the end of the year, think of the money you would have saved! It could easily be in the hundreds of dollars in savings! Possibly enough to buy yourself a new flight computer or a arm full of reload casings.

I know you want to save money on rocketry. With the economy the way it is, you've got to scrape by on a limited budget for your hobby. That is why it is important to make every rocket count. Can you afford to have an expensive kit rocket go squirley at lift-off and smash itself into thousands of bits and pieces?

That is why you need this book. It will give you the guidance to design and build low-cost rockets that fly straight-and-true every time.

But more importantly, after the cheers and the applause die down when you launch your rocket, people will come up to you and ask where you got that cool looking kit. You may have a hard time convincing them that you designed and built it yourself (I know this feeling -- its often happened to me).


What's New in this 3rd Edition?

From the author:

It is hard to believe it was 1995 when I wrote the first edition of Model Rocket Design and Construction. Five years later, I completed the second edition and I was really happy, as I added 40 pages worth of new information. That book was 160 pages long, and I thought that there wasn't much more I could put into it. I was wrong. I kept learning new stuff from other modelers.

The new book is 328 pages long. That's a bit more than double the size of the 2nd edition! What's new in it, you ask? I did use a lot of the how-to construction articles that have appeared in the Peak-of-Flight Newsletter. Having all the information in one book is a lot easier than having to download the articles from the internet. And it will be in formatted in the correct sequence with the basic information that the book already contained.

But there is a lot of new stuff that has never been printed before. For example, the chapter on rocket construction techniques has a lot more information now; it went from 20 pages to 49 pages long!

One area that I put a lot of work on was classifying the different types of recovery systems used in model rocketry. In past editions, this part of the book has become one of the most quoted/reviewed sections. I suppose it is because everyone that teaches rocketry to students has to cover the topic of recovery systems. The obvious place to look for that information is in this book.

In the first edition, I had the basic categories that most everyone knows about. You know... parachute recovery, streamer recovery, nose blow recovery, tumble recovery, glide recovery, drag recovery, and helicopter recovery. I think Estes' educational information didn't have nose-blow and drag recovery, so in 1995 I felt personally proud that my little book had something that they didn't have.

The second edition of the book added two more methods that weren't previously classified, bringing the total to nine different recovery types. This third edition has sixteen different categories! There are two new ones that I had to make up brand new words for, because they had never been classified. I can't take credit for inventing the new recovery types, as I've seen other people fly them in the past. But I do take credit/blame for the new recovery-type names.

The number of new line-art illustrations is something that I know you'll cherish. It takes an incredible amount of time to make the line-art drawings compared to dropping in a photograph. But they are so much cleaner looking, and it is easier to emphasize the important stuff that rocket designers need to know. That is why I do them. I want you to design successful rockets. In fact, I redrew a large number of the old drawings because I felt that they weren't good enough at explaining things.drawing comparison

I added a bit more on building high powered rockets. But Mark Canepa's book Modern High Power Rocketry is so well done, that I decided to concentrate on other aspects of rocket design. If you don't have Modern High Power Rocketry, get it. It is worth it!

Another new section I added in this book is how to accomplish successful parallel staging. You know... strap-on boosters! Everyone asks me about them, and I don't think any other book covers this topic. So look for that too. It goes really well with the new feature of RockSim version 9!

There is one completely new chapter in this book. It is about using your computer as a rocket design tool. You've probably read in the past that RockSim is a direct descendant of this book. Paul Fossey, the programmer of RockSim, read the first edition of this book, and was so inspired that he contacted me about writing a program to assist rocket designers. And from that, RockSim was born. Because of that, your PC has become probably the most important design tool in your arsenal besides your own brain. That makes it worthy to write about. So the new chapter describes all the neat things you can do to make better models with the help of your computer.


Here is a list of the 21 chapters in the book:
1. Getting Started - what do you need to know?
2. Stability: Getting Rockets To Fly Straight
3. Drag Reduction and Aerodynamics - Make them fly higher
4. Construction Tools - You DON'T need expensive tools - see why in the book.
5. Basic Raw Materials and Which Ones To Choose
6. Construction Techniques - Build strong, but lightweight.
7. Building Higher Powered Rockets - Special tips and tricks
8. Painting and Decorating - You want them to look good too?
9. Repair Techniques - How to make them "show-room new" again.
10. Streamer and Parachute Recovery System Design
11. Designing for Glider Recovery
12. Helicopter Recovery Design
13. Scale Models
14. Payload Rockets - What can rockets be used for?
15. Multi-stage Rockets - How to get the highest flights.
16. Clustered Engine Rockets - Big burly rockets with lots of smoke.
17. Rocket Engines - Which ones should you use?
18. Flight Testing - Things to look for during the first launch.
19. Displaying Your Completed Model
20. Starting a Rocketry Club
21. Using A Computer To Design Your Rockets
Appendix: Other Design Resources - where to get more information...


About the Author: Timothy S. Van Milligan

"I wrote the book on rocket design, and now you too can learn my secret design and construction techniques."

Timothy S. Van Milligan is a real aeronautical engineer, having worked for McDonnell Douglas launching the Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. As a launch operations engineer, he was responsible for getting the Delta II rocket erected on the launch pad and prepared to launch its payload into earth orbit.

After launching the big rockets into space, Tim then went to work for the famous Estes Industries as a senior rocket designer. While there, he invented a number of rockets, including the Skywinder rocket (US Patent #5,413,514).

Since 1994, Tim is even more active in designing and building rockets as the owner of Apogee Components. His goal is to inspire a new generation of modelers to push for even greater accomplishments. As he says: "The first step into space is a model rocket!"

Author with design book


Frequently Asked Question about Model Rocket Design & Construction:

I have RockSim, Why Do I Need This Book?

Model Rocket Design and Construction is where you start before entering the rocket dimensions into the RockSim software. For starters, it gives you ideas for designs that look truly unique. For example, what fin shape or nose cone might look cool on your rocket? It will also tell you the best construction method for putting your design together - sorta like a step-by-step instruction sheet; but for your own designs.

I think it is the perfect companion to RockSim. It gives you the techniques and construction methods you'll need to assemble them after you've simulated them in RockSim.


Actual Customer Comment:

"If you own no other book on model rocketry, get this one. It's $36 list price is modest for this type of book today, and it is well worth it. Tim covers all the bases in model rocket design and lays out a general how-to-do framework that future model rocketry activity can be placed upon. It is not just thorough; it is thoroughly enjoyable for the advanced rocketeer or the beginner alike." -- Francis Graham (Founder: Tripoli Rocketry Association)

"My wife purchased Model Rocket Design and Construction, 2nd edition for me for father's day and it was my favorite present. Once again your accessible prose style, wide breadth of ideas to try and frank debunking of some of the high power myths was enjoyable and informative. -- I am beginning to think of Apogee the way I used to think of Estes and Centuri in my youth, i.e. as a company that gets why rocketry is a great hobby and one that works to grow it, not just milk it." -- Ron Kaminski

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