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Prepared for

Douglas Hendricks

Teacher, Physics Honors Period A2

Academy for Math, Engineering & Science

By

Michael Nehring

Student, Physics Honors Period A2

Academy for Math, Engineering & Science

ABSTRACT

This procedure was done to demonstrate that the laws of physics, if applied correctly, can be used to

estimate the launch height of a rocket. A subject taught and discussed in class was the Impulse Momentum

Theorem (F t = m v ), which were used to solve for the impulse of the rocket to be launched. Thrust is the

force that launches a rocket; this is the force that gives the rocket a change in its momentum. The drag force/air

resistance (Fd=Kd*v) was also taken into account when solving for the max height for each rocket. Numerical

analysis is looking for patterns or correlation among numbers. Realizing the relationship with the numbers and

what they stand for is very important when using numerical iteration, which is a sequence of equations to

calculate for a final answer. Results from the equations came to be 70.83m, 219.19m, 63.09m without rounding

for the red/black, white, red/yellow rockets respectively. After each rocket was launched, the angle was

measured at a distance of 50m away from the launchpad. The final launch heights were 78.49m, 146.71m,

48.13m without rounding for the red/black, white, red/yellow rockets respectively.

red/black

white

red/yellow

70.83m

219.19m

63.09m

INTRODUCTION

Information learned in class used to solidify the understanding of kinematics and dynamics by deriving

and using Newtons 2nd law of motion, was used to find the maximum height of rockets. Kinematics is defined as

the branch of mechanics concerned with the motion of objects without reference to the forces that cause the

motion. Kinematics is not to be confused with dynamics which is defined as the branch of mechanics concerned

with the motion of bodies under the action of forces.

Other terms that will be used in this report are:

Impulse: The force acting briefly on a body that produces a finite change in momentum.

Momentum: The quantity of motion of a body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.

Coefficient: a multiplier of factor that measures some property.

Drag Force: Also known as air resistance, describes an object moving through a medium which then faces an

opposing force.

Using Newtons 2nd law of motion, calculating the maximum height of a launched rocket seems inefficient. Once

derived into the Impulse Momentum Theorem, it is possible to calculate, with the help of using the drag force

equation, the maximum height of the launched rocket. The Impulse Momentum Theorem is derived as follows:

F = ma

a = ( v) / ( t)

how the term impulse is used would only be

necessary for understanding rockets. Rockets, in this

case, are labeled A2-4 for example. The A describes a

small group of numbers calculated to be the impulse,

measured in Newton-seconds. The grading scale goes:

F = m ( v) / ( t)

Multiply both sides by ( t)

F ( t) = m ( v)

m ( v) = ( p)

Therefore: F ( t) = ( p)

2.5N-s

5N-s

10N-s

Etc.

ex. 20N-s, 40N-s etc.

Newtons. The last number is the time measured in

seconds. This rocket will have an impulse within 0-2.5Ns, a force/thrust of 2N, and will continue to fire for 4

seconds.

The act of repeating a process to reach a desired result is known as iteration. The difference between

iteration and numerical iteration is the use of numbers in the latter. This mathematical process was used in order

to calculate the height of each rocket tested. The reason to use numerical iteration makes sense because the

thrust and mass of the rocket is constantly changing once ignited and in flight. This can be known at a glance of

the impulse graph of the rocket, which will be shown in the Thrust Analysis section of this report.

To measure the thrust force of the rocket engine as a function of time, a digital force gauge was

connected to a CBL, calculator-based laboratory. Before the main part of the experiment was performed, a

trigger system had to be set up so that the CBL didn't graph unnecessary numbers like the 0s before the rocket

engine fires. The trigger was a force that had to pass a certain threshold in order to activate and begin to graph

the results of the test. Once the CBL was connected to the graphing calculator, triggering was set up, and each

component was placed accordingly, the rocket was ignited. The CBL graphed the force in the time the engine

fired and gave pretty good results.

To the left is an image which describes what was

done to perform the experiment. Below is a graph of

the force (N-y axis) over time (sec-x axis). Each block

is a whole 1 unit.

for 3 seconds. The table can be seen below:

1.6

3.86

0.1

1.7

3.74

0.2

1.8

3.86

0.3

0.03

1.9

3.92

0.4

2.07

3.86

0.5

8.51

2.1

3.92

0.6

5.96

2.2

3.86

0.7

4.71

2.3

4.13

0.8

4.45

2.4

0.64

0.9

3.53

2.5

0.24

1.1

3.95

2.6

0.21

1.2

4.2

2.7

0.21

1.3

3.77

2.8

0.18

1.4

3.56

2.9

0.15

1.5

4.01

0.12

The impulse of the rocket engine was found by calculating the area of the graph. This was done by breaking the

graph into small rectangles and finding the area of each. Adding the areas together gave an approximate answer

to what the impulse was. The impulse was approx. 8.5, making the engine a C engine. Whats left to do is find

the average force in Newtons, which came to be 3.55 Newtons, rounding to 4.0 Newtons. It turns out that the

engine was a C6 engine, not a C4. The reason why it couldve been off is because of the unit size that was used

to find the area of the graph.

In order to accurately estimate how high the rocket will launch it is important to calculate for the drag/air

resistance. Air resistance can be thought of as an opposing force against an object. It is unrealistic to think that

Earth's air pressure remains the same at any given altitude, but for the rocket launch, the height won't be very

significant enough to calculate for.

It is known that drag is proportional to velocity, but to be used in an equation, there has to be a

proportionality constant included. The proportionality constant will be the drag coefficient (k d). So:

Fd v

include the proportionality consistent

given prior. To find the drag coefficient the object would

be set in a wind tunnel and measured. By using

simple tools, i.e. protractor.

Fd = kd v

For this experiment, the object was placed in the wind tunnel and it was turned on. The wind velocity was

measured using a wind gauge, leaving the equation above with two unknown variables. With the wind pushing

the rocket (attached to the string above the protractor), it tilts it. In fluid dynamics, turbulence has chaotic

properties with its vectors. Anywhere a set of vectors are placed in wind experienced outside, the vectors will

not be uniform throughout. The opposite of turbulent flow is laminar flow. Laminar flow is exactly what is needed

to test for the drag coefficient in the rocket. Below is a figure showing a wind tunnel with a mesh extruded along

the desired vector redirecting the wind to move in one vector.

components' equations for the x and y axis become:

Tcos = mg

divide both sides by cos

T = (mg/cos)

For the y axis:

Tsin = Fd

Substitute T in the x axis here:

(mg/cos)sin = Fd

divide both sides

Fd = (mgsin/cos)

To finally find the drag coefficient, just solve for the last unknown variable. The equations listed above

will combine to form: kd = (Fd/v). So kd = ((mgsin/cos) / v). The angle can easily be seen if connected to a

protractor by a string. It is easy to forget that the protractor reads 90, so it is important to subtract by the

measured angle.

Some rockets were too large to fit in the wind tunnel and had to be approximated according to its size

and shape relating to other rockets that were able to be tested.

NUMERICAL MODEL

In order to calculate the anticipated heights for each rocket, the average thrust for 0.0-0.1 (onward for

other sets of heights at a time), the drag force, avg. net force, avg. net impulse and avg. velocity must be

calculated to determine the final height for each rocket.

Time

(sec)

Thrust

Given

Measured

Avg.

Thrust

Drag

Force

Avg. Net

Force

Avg. Net

Impulse

Initial

Velocity

Final

Velocity

Avg.

Velocity

Final

Height

2

mg-Fd

(use last

Vf)

Fnet*t

Given(/la

st row of

Vf)

Vi+Fnet

(Vf+Vi)/2 V(avg.)*

t

(add prior

height)

This set of equations seem fool proof, but if these equations are used infinitely, the max height will

indeed appear, however the drag vector is still applied in the same direction as it was while the rocket was

traveling upward. This is problematic because the numbers will show its maximum height, slowly decline, and

suddenly pass 0 into negative numbers. Once the maximum height is found, the numbers afterward shouldnt be

used as accurate numbers.

Mass (with rocket body and engine)= 0.102kg

Drag coefficient = 0.0003

Time

Thrust

Avg.

Drag

Avg. Net

(sec)

Thrust

Force

Force

Avg. Net

Impulse

Initial

Velocity

Final

Velocity

Avg.

Velocity

Final

Height

The spreadsheet below has 0.000 set for the drag/air resistance for the same rocket. It can be seen that the max

height is much greater than the predicted maximum height for the rockets. This would be very similar to

launching the same rockets on earth without any atmosphere and having gravity be the only opposing force

acting on the rocket itself.

Mass (with rocket body and engine) = 0.102kg

Drag coefficient = 0.0003

Time

Thrust

Avg.

Drag

Avg. Net

(sec)

Thrust

Force

Force

Avg. Net

Impulse

Initial

Velocity

Final

Velocity

Avg.

Velocity

Final

Height

FLIGHT RESULTS

The flight results were off by quite a few meters, probably because of inaccurate measurements, the arc

of the rocket (rockets rarely fly straight up), or because of a hardware error, which is unlikely. Inaccurate

measurements doesnt seem like it would be the problem since there were three measurers who listed the

results of each flight. The angle was listed and then averaged to get a closer answer to the true angle.

If only one person used a protractor to measure the height of the rocket, the answer would surely be off

because of the rockets arc. Three people would be set 50 meters away from the Launchpad divided 120 apart

from each other to get the most of the measurements.

Rocket

Engine

Angle 1

Red/Yellow

A

40

Red/Black

B

47

White

C

48

Red/Yellow

C

65

Angle 2

44

50

70

87

Angle 3

45

74

95

91

Average

43

57

71

81

Now that the angle is averaged, the distance known, all thats left to do is find the height of the

rocket. To do that, the tangent trigonometric equation will be used.

Tan = Opposite/Adjacent

Multiply both sides by the adjacent number (50m)

50tan = opposite

i.e. 50tan43 = 46.626

ans + 1.5 2(persons height)

total rocket height = 48.125

find the height of the rocket.

One vital piece of information is the persons

height to add to the rockets height. The person

measured the rocket a certain distance from the

ground, in this case it was 1.5 m.

CONCLUSION:

The final heights for the rockets turned out to be:

Rocket

Predicted Height (m)

Red/Yellow

63.09

Red/Black

70.83

White

219.19

Red/Yellow 2

280.85

48.125

78.493

146.711

317.188

Although these numbers seem a bit off, they are well in the boundaries to call acceptable. There

couldve been many things that may have gone wrong whether it be inaccurate measurements, etc. To

make the results better for another experiment, perfectly made rockets, an indoor rocket lab, and better

measuring tools/more measuring people would be needed for the experiment. Not having access to this

kind of equipment, it was a well-performed lab which applied every topic covered (so far) in physics H.

REFLECTION

I really liked how this project was organized and executed. The timing in the year was great and

the project definitely made me apply everything I know about physics to this point. If the wind was

more prominent in a single direction, I still think I couldve solved for the maximum height because I

learned about vectors. By using these concepts, I feel like I can officially call myself a physics honors

student.

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