I want to make a three stage model rocket. But I don't know how I would detach the used stages. I was thinking of using a remote control would that work?

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    $\begingroup$ Have you looked into how the existing multistage model rocket kits for sale (for example, Estes) work? $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2022 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ apogeerockets.com/Tech/How_2-Stage_Rockets_Work , especially the section "How Direct Staging Works." But you might want to start with a two stage rocket. And really, a one stage rocket before that. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2022 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


I used to do model rocketry, and at one point flew a three stage rocket. Multistage model rockets rely on pretty simple physics (no remote control needed).

  • Staging or booster motors in the lower stages. This differ from regular model rocket motors in that they don't have the small explosive charge at the top to pressurize the tube and deploy the recovery device, but instead just have propellant all the way too the top. When the propellant burns through some hot gas shoots upward to ignite the next stage.
  • Motors are stacked, literally, right on top of each other, with a single layer of cellophane or packing tape (very important that it was a single layer) holding them together. This is the only thing holding the stages together. When the hot gases from the previous stage start shooting out the top, they ignite the next stage's motor, and the hot gases from one or both of those is enough to melt the tape, separating the used stage from the boosting one.
  • Spent stages are light enough without their propellant (really just cardboard and balsa) that they just tumble safely to the ground (aka, a tree, a roof, etc.).
  • Final stage has the small explosive charge to deploy the recovery device (parachute, streamer, some small rockets will just pop the nosecone off and that breaks the aerodynamics enough that it tumbles safely down).

I don't believe there are multistage model rockets with more than three stages. Even that was difficult to use with how high it flew and how likely it was to land somewhere inaccessible.

I'm not seeing a lot of general info online on this. Este's website is pretty scant, but it looks like their online catalog has some good info still: https://estesrockets.com/catalogs/

Diagrams and more info on multistage model rockets: http://www.ninfinger.org/rockets/EstesTR2.pdf

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer! The classic Estes tech report on multistaging is here, should you want to include it in your answer: ninfinger.org/rockets/EstesTR2.pdf Good pictures showing exactly what you describe. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2022 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble thanks! Great add. Hadn't seen that before. $\endgroup$
    – paulmrest
    Mar 15, 2022 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ The umbrella site, ninfinger.org/rockets/rockets.html, looks to have a lot of really good general info on model rocketry. $\endgroup$
    – paulmrest
    Mar 15, 2022 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ It does indeed. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2022 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ The Estes Comanche 3 is one of the oldest 3-stage hobby rockets, and is still for sale: estesrockets.com/product/007245-comanche-3 $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2022 at 2:53

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