Innovation Gateway Challenge, presented by BHP

Design and Build a Rocket

Be part of the NASA mission. Compete in a new series of challenges through our Innovation Gateway, a community science initiative. Everyday explorers – just like you – have the opportunity to provide useful solutions to further space exploration and our world.

In this challenge, you will design and launch your own rocket.

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A Brief History of Rockets

Did you know some of the first rockets were lit around 2,000 years ago? Gunpowder and bamboo tubes were used in Chinese religious celebrations in the first century A.D. As time went on, different cultures built on the original idea to make bigger and faster rockets that were also more versatile. When Dr. Robert H. Goddard successfully launched the first liquid fueled rocket in 1926, everything changed. Switching to liquid fuel granted us control over the rocket’s trajectory and power that would eventually lead to the start of the space race.

NASA’s Mission

Rockets have played a significant role in NASA’s ability to explore and research our universe. From the space race that put the first American in space to landing rovers on Mars, rockets are the backbone of many NASA missions. NASA continues to make more powerful rockets that will soon take us back to the Moon and allow us to take the first human steps on Martian soil.


Everyone who submits an entry for this challenge will receive a certificate of completion. Challenge winners can select from two general admission tickets to Space Center Houston or asking a question to an astronaut during our Virtual Campout program.


Level 1: Design and create a rocket that launches with air or water pressure.

Level 2: Design and create a rocket that uses a chemical reaction to launch. (Do not use any reactions that produce fire or anything else that is similarly dangerous.)

Helpful hints for all levels:

  • Explore the resources provided below to find many answers to your questions about distortion goggles, including a JPL Straw Rocket activity.
  • Work with family and friends to develop your system.
  • Submit your entry by using the submission form on this webpage.
  • Be creative!


Level 1 and 2: Submit two pictures of your rocket

  • A full picture of your rocket and launching mechanism. (For Level 2, this should include your fuel source(s).)
  • A video under 10 seconds of rocket being launched.

Entries must be submitted before 7 p.m. CT July 31 using the submission form on this webpage.

Resources & inspiration

Virtual Campout

Register for our July 3 Virtual Campout to get a step-by-step demonstration of how to build your own pair of distortion goggles using household materials. Virtual Campouts are offered to anyone who would like to participate and are you-pay-what-you-can events.

Register now
To support your research, review these resources to help get you started.


Ages 17 & younger

Coming soon

Ages 18 & older

Coming soon

Submission Form

Participant first name*

Participant last name*

Participant age*

If you would like to receive challenge updates, please provide your email address:

Submission level*

Photo 1*

Photo 2*

10-second video

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