Balloon rocket

A balloon rocket is a rubber balloon filled with air or other gases. Besides being simple toys, balloon rockets are a widely used as a teaching device to demonstrate basic physics. [1][2]

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.

If the balloon is inflated with helium or other lighter than air gases, it tends to fly in an inclined trajectory (usually going upwards), due to the light nature of the gas.

In physics

The balloon rocket can be used easily to demonstrate simple physics, namely Newton’s third law of motion.[3]

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.[4]

Rocket balloon

Deflated rocket balloon
A rocket balloon without its pump attached

There is also dedicated toy known as a rocket balloon, usually tubular-shaped and inflated with a special pump (pictured). These balloons, when released, propel in a more stable direction because of a steadier thrust of air and elongated shape, unlike ordinary round balloons which often launch uncontrollably.

Aside from the shape, rocket balloons are also characterized by their distinctive loud buzzing or screaming noises due to the tight, reed-like opening designed to make noise as the air rushes through.

They are 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.

In addition, the noises that a balloon creates when deflating is sometimes used in conjunction with this comedic effect.


  1. ^ :// NASA Office of Education. Rockets: A Teacher’s Guide witphysical principles and the functioning of a rocket engine
  2. ^ [httph Activities in Science, Mathematics, and Technology. EG-1999-06-108-HQ]
  3. ^ Zimmerman Jones, Andrew. "Collect your materials for the rocket balloon". How to Create a Rocket Balloon. About:Physics. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  4. ^ Summer Science Newsletter: Building a balloon rocket car

External links

Auguste Piccard

Auguste Antoine Piccard (28 January 1884 – 24 March 1962) was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer, known for his record-breaking helium-filled balloon flights, with which he studied the Earth's upper atmosphere. Auguste was also known for his invention of the first bathyscaphe, FNRS-2, with which he made a number of unmanned dives in 1948 to explore the ocean's depths.

Piccard's twin brother Jean Felix Piccard is also a notable figure in the annals of science and exploration, as are a number of their relatives, including Jacques Piccard, Bertrand Piccard, Jeannette Piccard and Don Piccard.


A balloon is a flexible bag that can be inflated with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, air or water. Modern day balloons are made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, and can come in many different colors. Some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig bladder. Some balloons are used for decorative purposes or entertaining purposes, while others are used for practical purposes such as meteorology, medical treatment, military defense, or transportation. A balloon's properties, including its low density and low cost, have led to a wide range of applications.

The rubber balloon was invented by Michael Faraday in 1824, during experiments with various gases.He invented them for use in the lab.

Balloon helicopter

A balloon helicopter is a flying toy consisting of a latex toy balloon and a plastic propeller, derived from the simple balloon rocket. The most important feature is the hollow propeller hub which directs air into a passage in each propeller blade. The air passages channel air to the blade tips such that air escapes in a fine jet tangentially. The air jets on the blade tips causes the entire toy to spin, the blades have a positive angle of attack so the blades experience a lifting force as they push air downwards. It can attain a height of approximately 12 meters (40 feet). Full-scale helicopters have been built around this tip jet configuration.

Hi-5 (2017 TV series) (series 1)

The first series of the 2017 Hi-5 revival (also referred to as Series 17) aired between 15 May 2017 and 16 June 2017 on 9Go! in Australia. The series was produced independently with Julie Greene as executive producer.

The series began production after the Nine Network renewed its partnership with the Hi-5 franchise in October 2016. This was the first series to feature an entirely new cast, introducing Courtney Clarke, Shay Clifford, Lachie Dearing, Joe Kalou and Bailey Spalding.

International Magnetospheric Study

The International Magnetospheric Study (IMS) was proposed in 1970 as a concerted effort to acquire coordinated ground-based, balloon, rocket, and satellite data needed to improve our understanding of the behavior of earth's plasma environment.Projects done as a contribution to International Magnetospheric Study:

Prognoz 6

Scandinavian Magnetometer array

James Van Allen

James Alfred Van Allen (September 7, 1914 – August 9, 2006) was an American space scientist at the University of Iowa. He was instrumental in establishing the field of magnetospheric research in space.

The Van Allen radiation belts were named after him, following their discovery by his Geiger–Müller tube instruments on the 1958 satellites: (Explorer 1, Explorer 3, and Pioneer 3) during the International Geophysical Year. Van Allen led the scientific community for the inclusion of scientific research instruments on space satellites.

Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise, most often seen as the Captain of the starship USS Enterprise-D. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), the feature films Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), and is planned to feature as the central character in a forthcoming Star Trek show. He is portrayed by actor Patrick Stewart.

Jean Piccard

Jean Felix Piccard (January 28, 1884 in Basel, Switzerland – January 28, 1963 in Minneapolis, Minnesota), also known as Jean Piccard, was a Swiss-born American chemist, engineer, professor and high-altitude balloonist. He invented clustered high-altitude balloons, and with his wife Jeannette, the plastic balloon. Piccard's inventions and co-inventions are used in balloon flight, aircraft and spacecraft.

Jeannette Piccard

Jeannette Ridlon Piccard (pronounced "janet pekar"; 1895–1981) was an American high-altitude balloonist, and in later life an Episcopal priest. She held the women's altitude record for nearly three decades, and according to several contemporaneous accounts was regarded as the first woman in space.Piccard was the first licensed female balloon pilot in the U.S., and the first woman to fly to the stratosphere. Accompanied by her husband, Jean—a member of the Piccard family of balloonists and the twin brother of Auguste Piccard—she reached a height of 10.9 miles (17.5 km) during a record-breaking flight over Lake Erie on October 23, 1934, retaining control of the balloon for the entire flight. After her husband's death in 1963, she worked as a consultant to the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center for several years, talking to the public about NASA's work, and was posthumously inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1998.

From the late 1960s onwards, Piccard returned to her childhood interest in religion. She was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal Church in 1971, and on July 29, 1974, became one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained priests—though the ordinations were regarded as irregular, performed by bishops who had retired or resigned. Piccard was the first of the women to be ordained that day, because at 79 she was the oldest, and because she was fulfilling an ambition she had had since she was 11 years old. When asked by Bishop John Allin, the head of the church, not to proceed with the ceremony, she is said to have told him, "Sonny, I'm old enough to have changed your nappies." In September 1976, the church voted to allow women into the priesthood, and Piccard served as a priest in Saint Paul, Minnesota, until she died at the age of 86. One of her granddaughters, Kathryn Piccard, also an Episcopal priest, said of her: "She wanted to expand the idea of what a respectable lady could do. She had the image of the street-wise old lady."

List of balloon uses

This is a list of uses of balloons


balloon catheter

balloon tamponade

Graphene balloons

small (volume of a few litres)

gas balloon

cluster ballooning

Talking balloon

toy balloon

water balloon


balloon modelling


solar balloon

balloon mail as part of a balloon flight competition or to spread information

balloon helicopter

balloon rocket, demonstration of rocket propulsion

ceiling balloon

decoys accompanying ICBMs in midcourse, see also countermeasure

A vessel for storing nitrous oxide prior to inhalation for use as a recreational drug

medium (volume of tens to thousands of litres)

free flying

high-altitude balloon

hopper balloon

fire balloon for the transport of bombs (in World War II, FUGO-Balloon)

transport of propaganda (in World War II and in the Cold War)

ceiling balloon

weather balloon used with a radiosonde


for carrying advertising signs

to carry a radio antenna

toy balloon

research balloon

Skyhook balloon

superpressure balloon


balloon tires, for vehicles that require low ground pressures

large (volume up to 12,000,000 litres)

free flying

balloon (aircraft)

lifting people, or daring prison escapes, usually with a hot air balloon, Rozière balloon or a gas balloon

airship, a steerable balloon

hybrid airship, which combines characteristics of heavier-than-air (HTA) technology, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, and lighter-than-air (LTA), aerostat technology.

research balloon with instrumentation, also to carry telescopes

rockoon, a carrier for rockets.

balloon satellite for space research.

espionage balloon for military reconnaissance

hopper balloon


as manned observation post (before World War II)

barrage balloon

observation balloon for military reconnaissance

positioning atomic bombs for bomb tests in the atmosphere

moored balloon

List of inflatable manufactured goods

This is a non-comprehensive list of inflatable manufactured goods, as no such list could ever completely contain all items that regularly change. An inflatable is an object that can typically be inflated with a gas, including air, hydrogen, helium and nitrogen. Some can be inflated with liquids, such as waterbeds and water balloons.


The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies, with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing. Modern private postal systems are typically distinguished from national postal agencies by the names "courier" or "delivery service".

Postal authorities often have functions other than transporting letters. In some countries, a postal, telegraph and telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system, in addition to telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries' postal systems allow for savings accounts and handle applications for passports.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU), established in 1874, includes 192 member countries and sets the rules for international mail exchanges.

Piccard family

The Piccard family are a Swiss family of adventurers, explorers and scientists. They collectively have broken several world records in exploration, particularly with balloons. The Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard was named in honour of this family.Members include:

Auguste Piccard (1884–1962), physicist, balloonist, hydronaut

Bertrand Piccard (born 1958), psychiatrist, balloonist, and solar plane pilot

Don Piccard (born 1926), balloonist

Jacques Piccard (1922–2008), hydronaut

Jean Piccard (1884–1963), organic chemist, balloonist

Jeannette Piccard (1895–1981), balloonist, teacher, scientist, priest

Toy balloon

A toy balloon or party balloon, is a small balloon mostly used for decoration, advertising and children's toys. Toy balloons are usually made of rubber or aluminized plastic, and inflated with air or helium. They come in a great variety of sizes and shapes, but are most commonly 10 to 30 centimetres in diameter. Toy balloons are not considered to include "sky lanterns" (hot-air paper balloons), although these too are or were used as child toys in some parts of the world.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, out of 373 children who died in the US between 1972 and 1992 after choking on children's products, nearly a third choked on latex balloons. The Consumer Products Safety Commission found that children had inhaled latex balloons whole (often while trying to inflate them) or choked on fragments of broken balloons. Parents, a monthly magazine about raising children, advised parents to buy Mylar balloons instead of latex balloons.

Zero 2 Infinity

Zero 2 Infinity (0II∞, sometimes rendered as Zero2Infinity) is a private Spanish company developing high-altitude balloons to provide access to near space and low Earth orbit using a balloon-borne pod and a balloon-borne launcher.

The company was founded in 2009 by aerospace engineer Jose Mariano López-Urdiales, the current CEO. It is headquartered in Barberà del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain.

Zero 2 Infinity has been testing high-altitude balloons and launching small payloads to high altitudes for scientific institutions and commercial firms for testing elements above most of the Earth's atmosphere. Their launch system has a significantly lower impact on the environment, an advantage over conventional systems. The company's pod named Bloon may also be used for tourism. As of late 2016, its CEO had suggested that commercial flights could take place as early as 2019.

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