diy {Shuttle launcher}

My friend Cindy told me about a project her kids did at the Tulsa Air & Space Museum. She was confident we’d enjoy it…and she was so very right. The concept is super simple: make a paper airplane and shoot it off using pvc pipe, tape, & a 2 liter bottle. Here is how we did it:

Step 1: Create your aircraft. We had paper shuttle models from Amy, so we used those. And I found where you can download the same ones! The base of the shuttle did not fit on top of the pvc pipe (this will make sense later), so I added a tube of paper that fit over the pipe and shoved it up into the shuttle. I recommend decorating your shuttle, then cutting and taping it all together.

Step 2: Create your launcher. Make and “L” out of pvc pipe. Tape an empty 2 liter bottle to the short side.

Step 3: Launch your shuttles. Slide the shuttle onto the top of the launcher. Take turns jumping or stomping onto the bottle. The air going out of the bottle with shoot the shuttle into the air. To launch again, blow into the pvc pipe to fill the bottle back up with air. You might have to re-tape the bottle to the pvc every now and then if it comes loose. Your cheeks might get sore from blowing too much!

My boys could have done this for a hour….my cheeks could not. I think this would be an awesome birthday party game. You could even let each kid make their own launcher and send it home as the party favor.

Happy Monday!

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  • Tess S. - great idea!

  • Brook S. - What a super fun idea! When it warms back up here in Kansas this week, I think we might just do this! 🙂

  • Pamela - What an awesome idea!

  • Kristin Eldridge - Thanks for another good kid activity!

  • amy jupin - i love everything about these pictures.
    makes me so happy!
    (yep, it’s confirmed…i’m a space geek.)

  • megan - thanks so much for sharing this! my printer’s humming right now. the kids are going to love this! adorable overhead table photo, by the way.
    blessings to you this day!

  • Danielle - What an awesome project!

  • meg duerksen - i think this would be a really fun and different take on craft thursday!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Wow! Such fun!
    I wanted to be an astronaut too! I grew up about 15 minutes away from Houston’s NASA. My elementary school’s principal was friends with one of the astronauts on the Challenger. He came and spoke to us the week before he left. We were all watching the launch live in our classrooms when the explosion happened. It was crushing.

    Also- as a jr. high student I remember us being taken outside when the space shuttles were returning. We would all go out like a fire drill and watch them fly overhead. So cool! Now, my parents live across the street from NASA.

  • Sarah - Such a fun idea. Activities like that are the ones I always remember from growing up.

  • Monique W - Fun idea! My son has a Buzz Lighter bubble launcher (same concept) and I never thought of making paper shuttles to use on the same contraption. Totally going to do it!

  • amanda torres - I love stuff like this!!! Thanks for sharing. For Firecracker you could use a butterfly. You know, add that special girl flare!

  • Christi Smith -

    Just in case you need reinforcements!!!

    i love the DIY version and will have to try that this week! how fun.

  • The Old Block House - Thank you for sharing this. I’m thinking the teens would even enjoy this.

  • Jacci in Ohio - The families in our church have a massive rocket launch at our 4th of July picnic each year. Two years ago one of our kiddos won the prize for distance. The main body of the rocket is a two-liter bottle and then my husband helps the kids add weight and shape with… you guessed it… duct tape! 🙂 We launch them with the PVC and air-filled bottle just like you did. There are a few engineers involved in the launch, too, though – lol. SO I think there’s also an air pump and a pressure gauge in the mix 😉

    SO fun!!!

  • Linda Dunbar - Cindy told me about it too and I think we are going to make them onstage at the Gathering for Moms. Really cute.

  • Rhonda Steed - looove it!!!! My kids are gonna love it too! thanks!

  • Joy Frameworks - I love this post! Can’t wait to try it out with the kids!

  • Peggy - love this must try it with my wee boy. thanks!!

  • Jen M - We did something similar for my son’s 5th birthday party. DH attached a foot pump (ours came with a yoga ball) and then we launched the rockets using the foot pump (kids just jumped on it.) It was awesome and no having to blow it back up with your mouth!

  • Charity - What a fun project. Our sixth grade curriculum did something similar with straws and paper planes. This is way cooler (bigger always is) and it looks like it works MUCH better!

  • Jennifer - Love this, and thanks for the link. I used to live in Collinsville, OK and my parents live in Owasso still. Last summer at a family reunion there my brother brought something similar to your launcher except you put the bottle, half full of water where your rocket is. Then you used a bicycle pump and pumped which someone held the bottle on until they could no longer hold it. It launches it hundreds of feet into the air (and the person holding the bottle gets drenched) – it was nightly fun for my 4 adult brothers (plus the 2 brother in laws) and all 18 grandchildren.

  • Leanne - that’s great! My boys would love this.

  • Mirys from Brazil - Yessss!

    We are participating of the “mamarazzi chalenge”!

    If you wanna see our “Monday”, it is at

    Kisses and blessings.
    from Brazil

  • Lori Anderson - That is so incredibly cool!

  • wendy - what great ideas! Thank you. I know we’ll get a thousand miles out of all uour comments. Thx 4 the post!

  • Denise - Sounds fun! Have you ever made marshmallow guns with pvc pipe? We decorate them with colored tape and use them on camping trips. (If you’re ever in the woods surrounded by diabetic squirrels, now you know why.)

  • Melissa Lewis-Midwest Magnolia - Ah yes, very familiar with this. Can’t wait for my two boys (husband and son) to be able to have this kind of fun in the backyard:)

  • Jenn - Ohhh, I really like this! Super cool!!

  • Julie B - I love this. I know my kids would love it to. Great idea to do it at a birthday party!

  • Cooper's Mom - I really like your kitchen table. Is that a concrete table? The texture is great I love it. Where is it from? Do share.

  • Trese - So you never mentioned that it would take me an hour and a half to cut out and glue 3 of those darn space shuttles together. =/ The boys were very patient though and loved them =) Thanks!

  • Janet - Neat. Using a foot pump like we used to have for air mattresses would be a great addition to the design.

  • Jennifer - How absolutely perfect!! I can’t wait to do this with my boys, thank you so much for sharing! BTW, I’m new to your website and I’m in love with your photography and even more addicted to all your DIY projects!! 🙂 Thanks again!!

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