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Josh Uyeda

AMES

Hendricks A2

Abstract

Prior to the actual rocket launch several tests were set up. One for engine thrust analysis,

which was conducted to find the force of the rocket thrust as a function of time. Another of the

tests was to determine the drag coefficient, which was setup and determined through the use of a

wind tunnel and a smaller rocket. The last test prior to the actual launch was a numerical model

made on Microsoft Excel, which was used to determine a predicted height for each of the five

rockets and for what the height of the rocket would be for each engine. For the actual launch to

determine the height of the rocket three people were designated to stand 50 meters away and use

a protractor with a string and weight attached to it. This was used to find the angle of the top

height of the rocket so trigonometry functions could be applied to find the actual height.

Rocket

Big White

Small White

Red/Silver

Red/Black

Red/Yellow

Predicted Height

63 meters

40 meters

74 meters

70 meters

81 meters

Actual Height

63 meters

45 meters

79 meters

Aprox. 60 meters

91.2 meters

Introduction

The purpose for the rocket lab was to apply everything that was taught in the 1st and 2nd

semester about kinematics and dynamics; kinematics being the physics of motion and dynamics

being the physics of objects being affected by other forces, such as gravity and friction. Another

purpose of the lab was to use the information taught in the previous chapter about impulse,

momentum, and drag force. Momentum is defined as Momentum(P) = Mass x Velocity.

Impulse is defined as Impulse(J) = Force x Time and is the change of momentum of an object.

Also there were multiple rocket engines to be used. The engine were A, B, C engines.

They engines used in four of the five rockets were C engines and a 1/2A engine was used for the

small white rocket. The differences between each engine are the amount of force and time it

burns for. For example a A4-5 engine would burn for 4 seconds, as indicated by the 4 adjacent to

the A. The A represents the force given by the engine. An A would exert 2.5 Newtons, a B engine

5 Newtons, and a C engine 10 Newtons. The 5 after the hyphen represents the delay time before

the parachute is deployed, and insignificant to the calculations of the max height.

In order to predict the rockets height a technique called numerical iteration was applied.

Numerical iteration implies that for a short amount of time, .1 of a second was the time used for

this lab, and assuming that the velocity was constant. Making the calculations simpler and saving

time.

This experiment was setup to find the force exerted by the rocket engine as a function of

time. It was setup by strapping a rocket

engine on top of car-like figure, as shown in

the picture to the left. A force detector was

also setup so data measurement could be

taken after the practice launch was set off.

The detector also had a trigger, so after the

force exceeded .5 Newtons it would start

recording the information and send it to a

graphing calculator that would display the

data collected by the detector. A small igniter

was also put inside of the rocket engine to

ignite the fuel and is connected to a battery

by two small alligator clamps attached to the end. Electricity would flow from the battery into

the igniter which would heat up the sulfur coated tips of the igniter to ignite the rocket fuel. The

piece of duct tape attached around the top of the rocket engine is to prevent the rocket car to be

propelled off the tracks from the outward blast that would deploy the rockets parachute. After

the data was measured a table was made showing the amount of force for each .1 of a second

during the burn time. A table of the measurements off the thrust force as a function of time is

shown on the page attached. This is the graph that was made in class that day. Also the graph

skips to .8 seconds due to the fact that the trigger was set off early and it takes a little amount of

time for the large amounts of rocket fuel to ignite.

The rectangles on the graph is a calculus method

for finding the area underneath the graph called

left hand rectangles.

The links below are videos of the actual lab that

day.

http://youtu.be/AuDKPE8poHU This video

shows a close up of the launch.

http://youtu.be/zCROPm7Gl8s. This video

shows the setup for the launch.

This purpose of this experiment was to find

the significance of air resistance or drag force

on the rockets during the launch. If we

neglected the effects that air resistance had on

the rockets while in flight, the predictions

made for the heights of the rocket would be

significantly larger. With no other force

besides gravity acting on the rockets the

rockets flight would gain multiple hundred

meters. The experiment was setup up using a

smaller rocket inside of a wind tunnel. A protractor was used to measure the angle to find how

much drag coefficient of the rocket. Also, inside of the wind tunnel a fan is placed behind the

rocket to pull wind in. If the fan were on the side of the tunnel it would blow the wind in all sorts

of directions making measuring difficult and

inaccurate. To prevent large amounts or turbulence

within the wind tunnel a honeycomb-like structure is

placed inside the wind tunnel to funnel the air

straight onto the rocket. This is important because

the wind would hit the rocket at weird angles again

throwing off the measurements and making them

inaccurate. Below is a free-body diagram. A freebody diagram is a way physicists show all of the

forces acting upon an object and all those forces are

used in Newtons second law. F = ma or Force =

mass x acceleration. Since the forces act in both the

x and y directions, two equations were found. For

the x direction Fx= max, so all forces in the x

direction go in place of Fx. So Fd x T cos = ma. T cos comes from the x component

of the triangle below. So the equation for the x direction s Fd = T sin . The

equation for the y direction is Fy = may. The forces in the y direction replace Fy so

mg x T cos = ma. So the equation is T cos =mg. The equations combine to

be Fd = mg sin / cos . Now that we have Fd we can use the equation Fd =

Kd(VxV). So Kd = Fd/(V x V).

For the launch of the available five rockets:

Big White, Small White, Red/Silver, Red/Black,

Red/Yellow, The method used to find the angle of

the rockets was to place three people holding

protractors to track the rocket as it flew. The

protractor had a string with a weight attached so

as the persons head would go up following the

rocket the string would measure the angle from 90

degrees. Also the three people stood 50 meters

away from the rocket launch pad and were spread 120 degrees apart. This was necessary due to

the fact that rockets rarely fly straight upwards so multiple point of views are required. After the

launch the angles measured were recorded and from the recorded angles an average was taken.

That average angle was used in the trig function 50 tan = x. The equation comes from tan

= x/50. So 50 is multiplied to both sides. The diagram below shows the triangle from which the

trig function is taken. After the equation is worked out it is necessary to account for the height of

the person recording the data because they add extra height to the angle.

After all the rockets were launched and the numbers applied to

the equations and the table below shows the findings.

Rocket

Big White- C engine

Small White- A

Measured Angles

50, 60, 40

37, 42, 46

Max Height

63 meters

45 meters

engine

Red/Silver- C engine

Red/Black- C engine

Red/Yellow- C engine

55, 50, 68

65, 80

45, 60, 70

79 meters

Approx. 60 meters

91 meters

Conclusion

Rocket

Big White

Small White

Red/Silver

Red/Black

Red/Yellow

Predicted Height

63 meters

40 meters

74 meters

70 meters

81 meters

Actual Height

63 meters

45 meters

79 meters

Aprox. 60 meters

91.2 meters

The reason the predictions are slightly or extremely off is due to the fact that the flight

path of the rocket is not always straight upwards. If the rockets flew in a straight path upwards,

the angles would all match and a more accurate measurement could be taken for a more accurate

finding. A way that could improve the flight path to make it straighter is have a guided path or a

day that has very little wind. Also more people measuring the angles could help to find a more

accurate average angle. Also using a contrasting color to the sky would help the people track the

rocket so the angles would be more accurate.

Reflection

This project really pleased me because it tied everything we learned throughout the year

together. Everything that we learned about kinematics was applied every part of the overall

project; from using our knowledge of trig functions to find the height of the rockets to using free

body diagrams. Things we learned and techniques were all used. I really enjoyed the fact that we

had to build up to the launch. We had to determine the effects of air resistance and drag. How the

engines apply force to the rocket. The fact that we had spent so much time on each lab to

completely understand how the rockets would be affected and then apply all of the knowledge to

predict heights was very satisfying. I believe that if larger lab/experiment like this one to cover

large topics and have it use all of the methods, techniques, and functions that were taught

throughout that section or topic is an ingenious way to apply physics in a visual understanding.

To me, being able to do a lab and apply what was taught makes the subject matter more

memorable being able to relate it back to an activity. Not only does doing a lab replay all

information previously taught, but they also solidify the subject and help evaluate more problems

similar to the lab and use methods and techniques that were used in the lab and use them to solve

problems. This is why I found the rocket launch lab very enjoyable and it really helped me to

really reaffirm my understanding of kinematics and dynamics.

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