How it works
To launch a simple rocket, the untied opening of an inflated balloon is released. The elasticity of the balloon contracts the air out through the opening with sufficient force and the resulting pressure creates a thrust which propels the balloon forward as it deflates. It is usual for the balloon to be propelled somewhat uncontrollably (or fly in and unstable centre of mass, as well as turbulence that occur in the opening as the air escapes, causing it to flap rapidly and disperses air outwards in random direction.
Near the end of its deflation, the balloon may suddenly shoot quickly in the air shortly before it drops down, due to the rubber rapidly squeezes out the remaining air inside as it reaches the inclination to return to its uninflated size.
The flight altitude only amounts to some metres, with larger or lighter balloons often achieving longer flights. In addition, a cylindrical-shaped (or "airship") balloon may have a more stable flight when released.
A common experiment with a balloon rocket consists in adding other objects such as a string or fishing line, a drinking straw and adhesive tape to the balloon itself. The string is threaded through the straw and is attached at both ends to fixed objects. The straw is then taped to the side of the inflated balloon, with the mouth of the balloon touching the object it is pointed. When the balloon is released, it propels itself along the length of the string. Alternatively, a balloon rocket car can be built.
There are also dedicated toy known as a rocket balloon, usually tubular-shaped and inflated with a special pump (pictured above). These balloons, when released, propels in a more proper direction it is pointed at because of a steadier thrust of air and elongated shape, unlike ordinary round balloons which often launched uncontrollably. Aside from the shape, rocket balloons are also characterized by its distinctive loud buzzing or screaming noises due to the tight, reed-like opening designed to make noise the air pressure rushes through.
It is also known as noisemaker balloons, due to the aforementioned noise
As cartoon gags
The fact that an untied toy balloon flies away when released sometimes has become a staple recurring gag and comedic effect in most cartoons.
For instance, when an object or a character is comically being "inflated" and then deflates, it flies away uncontrollably, in a similar fashion to a balloon itself
Another example, is when a character rides a hot-air balloon, a blimp, or similar object, then it crashes or something damages the balloon, it will also deflate and comically flying away erratically at times.
In addition, the noises that a balloon creates when deflating is sometimes used in conjunction with this comedic effect.
- ://www.nasa.gov/pdf/58269main_Rockets.Guide.pdf NASA Office of Education. Rockets: A Teacher’s Guide witphysical principles and the functioning of a rocket engine
- [httph Activities in Science, Mathematics, and Technology. EG-1999-06-108-HQ]
- Zimmerman Jones, Andrew. "Collect your materials for the rocket balloon". How to Create a Rocket Balloon. About:Physics. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
- Summer Science Newsletter: Building a balloon rocket car
- NasaQuest: Teacher Information on balloon rockets
- YesMag: Balloon rockets
- Science Museum of Minnesota: Rocket
- Balloon Rocket Video
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