Space Derby: Guidelines

Derby Staff & Responsibilities


Registration Team

  • Before the race begins
    • Mark unique numbers on the bottom of each rocket. 
    • Enter the number and name of each entry on a preliminary heat sheet.
  • Once the race begins
    • Enter the names and numbers of heat winners on semifinal sheets.
    • Determine the final standing of each winning rocket and report the results to the awards committee.

Inspection Team

  • Before the race begins
    • Check entries for use of official materials.
    • Act as judges for prerace craftsmanship awards, such as Most Colorful, Best Looking, etc. Report the results to the awards committee.
  • During the race
    • Have extra boxes of rubber bands on hand. It takes three rubber bands to fly each ship properly.
    • Have small hand drills for winding rubber bands. This will help speed up the event. Check the ratio of the drill by making one revolution of the crank handle and counting the number of times the chuck turns. Most drills average a one-to-four ratio; thus, 40 turns equal 160 winds on a rubber band motor (150 to 170 winds are sufficient).
    • Help boys by stretching the rubber bands 12 to 15 inches beyond the tail. One person holds the rocket while the other winds the rubber band. This is especially helpful when using a hand drill as the winder.

Launch Operations Team

  • Set up and maintain launcher. Larger packs may find that multiplelaunchers make the event move along more quickly.
  • Have a starter's table where rockets are placed until their turn to race.
  • Have a starter at the beginning of each track.
  • Have two judges at the end of each track.
  • Have two or more gatekeepers to line up the boys.
  • Report winners to the registration team.

Interim Event Crew

  • Have planned activities for boys and siblings during the preopening, while registration and inspection are taking place, and between heats. Boys could make paper airplanes and hae target or distance throws.

Awards Committee

  • Make sure enough awards are on hand for the size of the pack.
  • Inform the master of ceremonies of the name of and award for each recipient. Large packs might consider having each den come forward and present all awards to the den leader. Smaller packs might consider calling each boy in alphabetical order and presenting any and all awards won. As every boy will receive and award for his participation in the derby, no one will feel left out.

Sample Rules



  • Only basic materials supplieed in the kit may be used for rocket construction.
  • The rocket body may be no longer than 7 inches, not including propeller and fins.
  • There are no restrictions on the weight or design of the rocket.

    Running the Space Derby



    • Each boy takes his rocket to the registration table to have his name and number entered onto the heat sheets.
    • Contestants report to the gatekeepers, who line them up in the order in which they will compete. At this point each boy starts to wind up the rubber band motor of his rocketship.
    • As his name is called, the boy hooks his rocket in the guideline assigned to him. He must center it between the vertical dowels and lock the propeller behind the horizontal dowel on the starting gate.
    • The gatekeeper starts the countdown and fires at zero by lifting the rear of the starting gate frame, which releases the rockets
    • Each race is run in heats with up to four contestants at a time. Each boy gets to try at least twice. For example, in a den of six boys, try heats of three boys each.
    • The rocket whose nose is over the final finish line first or travels the farthest if none passes the finish line wins.
    • Judges' decisions are final.
    Copyright 2016 - W. D. Boyce Council, BSA   Login