Rocketry Research Project - Q&A

RobertKam

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My name is Robert Kammermann and I am a Year 11 Student at Navigator College in Port Lincoln, Australia. As part of my Year 11, I am doing a Research Project on, "How is a High-Performance Model Rocket Built?”. Before I start my own build, I am interested in collecting Qualitative data from experienced individuals and rocketeers. I would appreciate it if you could please take up some of your time to answer these questions below.

What prior experience or qualifications do you have in rocketry?

For a Mid Power Rocket, what are the best materials to use in its construction? (For Fins, Fuselage, Nose Cone etc..)?

What payloads are suitable for Mid Power Rockets?

Do you believe that techniques, concepts and analysis applied on Model Rockets are also applicable on bigger, commercial rockets?

What books or reading materials do you recommend to those starting out and those with a background in model rockets?

Are kits better for rocketeers starting out? Is scratch building a better way for rocketeers to gain a grasp on all key building techniques?

Do you recommend rocketeers join a local club nearby?

Is farmland a suitable area to launch model rockets?


Thanks in advance,

Robert Kammermann
Year 11 Student
 

prfesser

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My name is Robert Kammermann and I am a Year 11 Student at Navigator College in Port Lincoln, Australia. As part of my Year 11, I am doing a Research Project on, "How is a High-Performance Model Rocket Built?”. Before I start my own build, I am interested in collecting Qualitative data from experienced individuals and rocketeers. I would appreciate it if you could please take up some of your time to answer these questions below.

What prior experience or qualifications do you have in rocketry?

For a Mid Power Rocket, what are the best materials to use in its construction? (For Fins, Fuselage, Nose Cone etc..)?

What payloads are suitable for Mid Power Rockets?

Do you believe that techniques, concepts and analysis applied on Model Rockets are also applicable on bigger, commercial rockets?

What books or reading materials do you recommend to those starting out and those with a background in model rockets?

Are kits better for rocketeers starting out? Is scratch building a better way for rocketeers to gain a grasp on all key building techniques?

Do you recommend rocketeers join a local club nearby?

Is farmland a suitable area to launch model rockets?


Thanks in advance,

Robert Kammermann
Year 11 Student
Hello Robert. My experience is mainly in motor making, not terribly relevant to what you're speaking of. But I've done model and high-power rocketry on and off since around 1965.

Most mid-power kits use either paper or phenolic tubes, plywood fins, plastic nose cones. Fiberglass and carbon fiber aren't all that necessary even for a lot of high-power rockets, depending on size and expected speed/altitude. LOC Precision is well known for kits up to 7.5" diameter that have cardboard airframes, plywood fins, polypropylene nose cones. If you're planning on breaking mach 1, that's a different story in most cases.

Payloads--I think one designs the rocket around the desired payload rather than the reverse.

Mid- and high-power rockets differ from models because they have to handle higher thrust, acceleration, and altitude. Usually fins are through-the-wall rather than surface mounted. Airframes are thicker as impulse increases, or stronger materials (phenolic, fiberglass, carbon fiber) may be used. Epoxy is the adhesive of choice though rockets with cardboard tubes and plywood fins often can be assembled and flown successfully with ordinary carpenter's (yellow) glue. Nylon chutes instead of plastic. Wider, stronger, longer shock cords (no elastic). Electronics. Dual deployment.

G. Harry Stine's Handbook of Model Rocketry is great for the rank beginner. Moving upward, Mark Canepa's Modern High-Power Rocketry is the book of choice.

Scratchbuilding is probably left until after you've made a kit or several at the appropriate impulse level. Still...my L1 rocket was a mid-power kit that I modified for 29 mm motors. Both my L2 and L3 were designed and built from scratch. I even made the nose cone and three transitions for my L3.

Club launches are a LOT more fun! And you'll probably learn more than you thought possible. I didn't know that elastic was not the preferred material for high-power shock cords until I was about to fly my L1 rocket. Happily a fellow rocketeer gave me twenty feet of tubular nylon at the launch, for a successful flight.

Farmland is probably the most common location for club launches. However, crops are very good at hiding rockets after they land, and many landowners won't let you fly when there are crops in the field. Our prefecture flies only from (usually) October thru April.

Have fun!
Terry
 

PhilC

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My name is Robert Kammermann and I am a Year 11 Student at Navigator College in Port Lincoln, Australia. As part of my Year 11, I am doing a Research Project on, "How is a High-Performance Model Rocket Built?”. Before I start my own build, I am interested in collecting Qualitative data from experienced individuals and rocketeers. I would appreciate it if you could please take up some of your time to answer these questions below.
Hi Robert. Welcome from a UK rocketeer.
What prior experience or qualifications do you have in rocketry?
Bachelors & masters degrees in aerospace engineering, 20+ years designing and building rockets
For a Mid Power Rocket, what are the best materials to use in its construction? (For Fins, Fuselage, Nose Cone etc..)?
Cardboard rocket tube or phenolic airframes, plastic nosecones, 1/8 inch (3mm) ply for fins and centering rings.
What payloads are suitable for Mid Power Rockets?
Small digital cameras & altimeters are good payloads
Do you believe that techniques, concepts and analysis applied on Model Rockets are also applicable on bigger, commercial rockets?
No. Model rocket materials are too heavy. A commercial rocket needs about 80%to 90% of the rocket's mass to be propellant. For model rockets this is generally less than 25%
What books or reading materials do you recommend to those starting out and
those with a background in model rockets?
Stine's book is a good start.
Tim van Milligan's 'Model Rocket Design and Constriuction' is full of useful info for making model and medium power rockets
Mark Canepa's 'Modern High Power Rocketry' is good for the next steps
Are kits better for rocketeers starting out? Is scratch building a better way for rocketeers to gain a grasp on all key building techniques?
Start with kits to see how others have made their rockets. Use this experience when designing your own.
Do you recommend rocketeers join a local club nearby?
Yes yes yes! You'll learn a lot from talking to other rocketeers. Ask loads of questions.
Is farmland a suitable area to launch model rockets?
Generally yes, but check the legal requirements for land use and airspace in Australia first. Don't launch if the grass is dry as the rocket could start a fire.
Thanks in advance,

Robert Kammermann
Year 11 Student
 

smstachwick

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You’ve gotten some good input, here’s some additional things I didn’t see mentioned.

What prior experience or qualifications do you have in rocketry?

I started flying Estes-scale model rockets when I was about 9 years old and managed to work my way up to mid-power models flying on F and G motors. I had a LOC/Precision Onyx that went through many iterations and it was my go-to for these larger motors. After a long hiatus through the 2010s, I re-entered the hobby about a year ago and I aim to get a L1 HPR certification in the next few years.

For a Mid Power Rocket, what are the best materials to use in its construction? (For Fins, Fuselage, Nose Cone etc..)?

That depends on the motor you intend to fly. For black powder E and F motors, the standard model rocket materials are sufficient. Paper, balsa, plastic, elastic rubber, thread, and simple wood glues with perhaps some epoxy to hold the motor mount would do the trick for most of these types of rockets. Some of these could even fly with fins glued directly to the body tube.

For higher-thrust composite motors you’ll generally want to beef up your components with thicker dimensions, extra reinforcement such as through-the-wall fin installation, or the aforementioned materials common in high-power rocketry. Basically, optimize your materials and construction for the forces you can expect. Make it as strong as it needs to be, plus an extra margin for safety, and not any stronger than that.

What payloads are suitable for Mid Power Rockets?

Really anything that will fit in the intended payload area; can be protected from in-flight forces; is not intended to be explosive, flammable, or harmful; and will keep the rocket in the limits for safe and legal flight.

Inert weights, altimeters of various kinds, trackers and other recovery aids, cameras, and any manner of sensor are fair game. In the US, there is a national competition in which competitors fly raw eggs in their rockets, with the aim to get them back undamaged and fly a precise flight profile. This mimics the tasks of payload and vehicle designers at NASA and other research organizations, as scientific payloads are often comparatively fragile and sensitive.

Do you believe that techniques, concepts and analysis applied on Model Rockets are also applicable on bigger, commercial rockets?
Yes and no. Some fields scale better than others. You’ll discover this by participating in your own flight activities and then comparing this to the activity surrounding a space launch. I was a bit lost when Artemis 1 got delayed over cryogenics problems, for example. We don’t play with liquid hydrogen.
 
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