Space Derby

The last Pack 502 Space Derby was in 2019. Event details will be updated here when a new event is scheduled.


The Space Derby is Thursday, May 16, 2019. We will most likely be in the amphitheater at Vineyard Ranch, but please watch your email as the date gets closer in case of rain. If you are having difficulty with your kits, please please contact the Cubmaster at This is our first year doing the Space Derby, but another Pack has helped explain what tends to work and not work.

Derby Tips

With a handheld drill you can make an inexpensive “rocket lathe” using the following:

1 x 3/8” x 8” bolt | 2 x 3/8” washers | 1 x 3/8” nut

  • Insert the bolt with one washer through the base of the wooden rocket pieces, then thread a washer and nut onto the nose.
  • Glue the two halves of the wooden rocket body together with the bolt, washers, and nut in position. Ensure the bolt is centered.
  • Carefully tighten the nut using some pliers (use a wrench on the opposite end). Don’t go crazy, balsa wood is delicate!
  • There should be just enough of the threaded bolt sticking out to insert into a drill.
  • Tighten the chuck around the bolt end, ensuring the rocket body is as straight as possible
  • If you like, use a rasp or file to remove some of the four sharp edges of the wooden rocket pieces (This speeds the next few steps)
  • Turn on the drill, and as it rotates use a rasp or file to begin removing material from the balsa wood rocket pieces
  • Periodically stop and check your work, to find high spots, tighten the chuck, or reposition the bolt to ensure it stays in alignment. The less wiggling, the less slop in your rocket.
  • Try to remove more material at the nose to give it a round, aerodynamic tip, while leaving more material for the body
  • Once you’ve got the nose and first half of the rocket body looking good, disassemble the rocket lathe and re-assemble with the rocket reversed: the base first and nose to the rear
  • Repeat until you get your desired shape, then use sandpaper instead of the rasp/file for a smooth finish
  • Attach fins, assemble motor, paint, and you’re done!

Cost – about $3.30 at Lowes for the bolt, washers, and nut.