Cardboard Rocket Ship

As I look around my apartment for recyclable objects and materials, I noticed that I had an excessive amount of cardboard boxes just laying around waiting to be thrown away. So I thought to myself, “why not use the cardboards that I already have and make something cool out of them, that way I can save money and time obtaining materials”.

After I was done obtaining the material, I thought about what I can make out of cardboard and decided that a small rocket ship model would be a good choice. There are many things that can be made out of cardboard, but I decided that I want to make a rocket ship model because I have always been interested in aerospace and space exploration. If I wasn’t doing mechanical engineering I would choose aerospace engineering as my major.

An actual rocket ship model include many different intricate features that cannot be recreated using only cardboard, so I aim to keep my design as simple as possible while still having the main features that a rocket ship should have. My main goal is for people to recognize that my final product is a model of a rocket ship when they see it.

After deciding on what to make, I looked up some cardboard rocket ships created by other people to have an idea of what I will be making. Right now, I’m thinking that a hexagon prism will be the best shape for the body of the rocket ship since I don’t have any carboard tube that is big enough. Because my model rocket ship will be one hundred percent cardboard, I plan to put different components together using glue. It will be somewhat difficult to cut and form the cardboards into the desired shapes, so I’d have to be careful. But even if I mess up some parts and run out of cardboard, it will be fairly easy to obtain more since cardboard boxes are everywhere.

Simple features like doors, and window cutouts, such as the ones shown in the figure above, can add to the aesthetic of the final product.



Space Shuttle Rocket Ship Decor


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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Larry Vargo
    May 14, 2021 1:05 pm

    Ok. Ran across this article by chance. Years ago, when I was a kid, I didn’t have any spending money but did have an interest in aviation. I used the cardboard stock of cereal boxes for material and glued things up with a paste of flour and water. This would harden up to an amazingly strong bond. To cover the framework I used ordinary loose leaf or typing paper. The patterns could be found in the Popular Mechanics magazines my dad collected. If the paper was thin enough you could trace the patterns out and then paste it to the cardboard. Cut it out with scissors and glue it up. Voila! Model aviation on less than a shoestring. My favourite one was a P-47. I balanced out the fore-aft cg with a piece of scrap metal from my dad’s tool box and affixed a simple free-wheeling propellor to th nose. Put a hole in a wingtip and threaded some twine through. The probably not-well-balanced air screw made a satisfying buzz as you twirled it around you, ala control-line flying (does anybody do that anymore?). Oh forgot to mention some aluminum paint my dad was using coloured the paper nicely; painted in the front of the nose (motor) black. This made a passable scale P-47 fighter considering how little it cost to produce. I think it was an issue from 1947 (don’t recall the month nor which magazine) and if I recall right was designed by Walter Musciano or something like that. Whatever, I used to enjoy “flying” it. Hadn’t yet progressed to balancing the lateral axis (roll) for free-flight for another few years so that was as good as it got. If I ever rediscover the patterns will have to take the time to build another just for the heck of it.
    So here’s an alternative to rockets, if you’re interested.

  • Hi Thuc,

    I also like space exploration so I think making a rocket is a great project! You mentioned that other people have made rockets from cardboard so I am curious to see what you plan to add to the rocket ship to make it unique. Adding color or drawings on the rocket would definitely make it pop. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    • Hi Alex,

      I currently don’t have many ideas on how to make the rocket ship more unique, but I think that adding colors and drawing are really good ideas!

  • Hey Thuc, I like the rocket-ship aesthetic that you’ve chosen. Cardboard seems to be a good use of resources when it comes to making a design. One thing that has worked for me in the past when using cardboard is to create interlocking pieces so that the use of glue is unnecessary—although it does require the use of more precise cutting tools like a laser-cutter. Classic sci-fi art might also be a good place to find inspiration on the design. Looks like a fun project, hope it turns out well.

    • Hi Daedalus,

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’m sure that using interlocking mechanisms would make the ship look more clean, but I don’t have much experience in laser cutting, and it’s kind of difficult to get access to a laser cutter right now so I think I’ll stick to using glue. I do like the idea of using classic sci-fi for inspirations though. I’ll look up some classic sci-fi art to see if I can find a design I like or maybe even small features that I can add to my project.

  • Thuc,

    I really like your idea of using cardboard for your project. It really embodies the premise of using free materials. Are you planning on adding any color to the project. It could look pretty stellar with some awesome artwork on the outside.

    • Hi Ben,

      I wasn’t planning on adding colors to the ship, but now that you mention it, I think some simple coloring would really add to the aesthetic of the project beside other physical features like fins or windows.


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