Common Causes for a Model Rocket Launch Failure

The best part about building a model rocket is the launch. Seeing it take off into the sky and reach heights you’ve only seen on TV is a real thrill. Everyone wants to have a good launch day, which is why so much planning and preparation happens leading up to the final day. Part of being prepared involves planning for an unsuccessful mission too. Here are some common causes for a model rocket launch failure.

Bad Weather

Pouring rain outside and other bad weather conditions can impede a launch. In fact, you should never launch your rocket in unbearable weather conditions. Common sense will tell you that this is a bad idea. However, you may also have days where you may think the weather is on your side, but it’s not.

People often assume a low-humidity day can make their rocket go farther. However, model rockets get the most momentum on particularly humid days. There’s less resistance in the air for them in such conditions. Keep a close eye on the weather to choose a day that will best support your launch.

Improper System

Is everything on the inside in order? There’s a chance it might not be. The slightest disconnect can cause the launch to implode or remain stationary. Moments like this mean you need to double-check and triple-check the mechanics of the model rocket before performing a launch.

Could the launch fail because of age-related engine failure? Does the engine you select work well with the rocket? These are questions you need to consider before arriving at the strip or field on launch day.

Eject and Recovery System Issues

The recovery system equally matters. Make sure you use a motor retainer or clips to provide positive friction on the motor. A poorly placed or assembled recovery system can ruin the entire launch.

Moreover, during your test runs, you need the rocket to come back mostly assembled to see what areas need improvement. The same tips and suggestions go for the launch pad. It should have a steady base to properly support the model before blasting off.


The slightest miscalculation will throw the entire thing off. You can do the project alone or work with a group to ensure your calculations are sound. Most people work with a partner so that there is someone there to double-check the work. You also see this strategy happen in classroom settings.

Go over all calculations the week leading up to the launch and verify your partner’s work. If there are discrepancies anywhere, resolve them before moving on to different areas.

Knowing about the possible common failures should help you prepare for a successful model rocket launch.

By Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.