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7.7-meter handmade 'water rocket' launched in Japan certified as world's largest

This photo taken by the Fukuoka survey and design office shows the launch of a water rocket on Aug. 2, which was certified by Guinness World Records as the "largest water rocket." (Photo courtesy of Showa Gakuen)

OBIHIRO, Hokkaido -- A handmade plastic foam rocket launched in Japan's northernmost prefecture by students with developmental disabilities has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the "largest water rocket."

    The 7.72-meter-long rocket is made of 1.5-centimeter-thick plastic foam in the shape of a cylinder with a diameter of 72.5 centimeters. It works by filling seven 12-liter plastic bottles with water and compressed air, and using the force of the air pushing the water out as propulsion.

    On Aug. 2, about 10 students aged 13 to 30 and faculty members from Showa Gakuen, a Tokyo-based incorporated nonprofit organization involved in special needs education, launched the rocket at a park in the town of Taiki, Hokkaido. The rocket reached an altitude of 16.78 meters, well above the 5-meter altitude required for the certification.

    The certification is dated Oct. 14. Until then, the largest water rocket had been a 4.04-meter-long one launched by a Canadian TV program.

    Katsutoshi Mizukawa, 50, a teacher at Showa Gakuen, said, "The fact that they took on their grand dream of becoming the world's No. 1 and succeeded in overcoming multiple failures will raise their self-esteem and enrich their lives in the future."

    (Japanese original by Hitoshi Suzuki, Obihiro Bureau)

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