# Flying model rockets is a relatively safe and inexpensive way for students to learn the basics of forces and

the response of a vehicle to external forces. A model rocket is subjected to four forces in flight; weight, thrust, and the aerodynamic forces,lift and drag. There are many different types of model rockets. One of the first and simplest type of rocket that a student encounters is the bottle, or water rocket. The water rocket system consists of two main parts, the launcher and the rocket. On the figure we show a generic launcher, although launchers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The launcher has a base to support the rocket during launch. A hollow launch tube is mounted perpendicular to the base and is inserted into the base of the rocket before launch. The launch tube is connected to an air pump by a hollow feeder line. The pump is used to pressurize the inside of the body tube to provide thrust for the rocket. We have attached a pressure gage to the feeder line to display the change in pressure in the system. This part of the system is very similar to the simplecompressed air rocket. The other part of the water rocket system is the rocket itself. Usually the rocket is made from a 2-liter soda pop bottle. Before launch, the bottle is filled with some amount of water, which acts as the "propellant" for the launch. Since water is about 100 times heavier than air, the expelled water produces more thrust than compressed air alone. The base of the bottle is only slightly larger than the launch tube. When the rocket is placed on the launch tube, the body tube becomes a closed pressure vessel. The pressure inside the body tube equals the pressure produced by the air pump. Fins are attached to the bottom of the body tube to provide stability during the flight. The flight of a water rocket is similar to the flight of a compressed air rocket with one important exception. The mass of the bottle rocket varies during the flight because of the exhausting water plume. There are equations which have been developed for full scale rockets that account for this loss of mass. You can study the flight of a bottle rocket by using theRocketModeler II flight simulator. Because of the popularity of bottle rockets, we have an entire section of this web site devoted to water rockets.

Generally increasing a rocket volume will also increase altitude. The nozzle diameter should be optimized based on the various rocket parameters. Keep the body of the rocket as smooth as possible. 4. and adding a little weight to the rocket may increase altitude. A smaller diameter rocket can also hold higher maximum pressure. Consider your highly optimized rocket sitting on top of a booster. Also keep any payload weight to a minimum. The longer the launch tube the better. You can trickle fill the rocket before launch to make sure the optimal pressure is achieved. Keep weight to a minimum. Use a simulator to calculate the optimum weight for a particular rocket. 16. Streamline the leading and trailing edges of your fins. There should be no sharp transitions in the flow. although there is a corresponding weight penalty. 13. Small and simple single bottle rockets may sometimes be under their optimal weight. a minimal diameter rocket can reduce drag significantly. Use a launch tube on the launcher. Consider using a Tnozzle for better efficiency. 7. There may be limitations on changing the nozzle size due to the type of launcher and launch tube used. drag coefficient. Avoid any unnecessary protrusions into the air stream. Streamline the body of the rocket to reduce drag. Use higher pressures. Every rocket has an optimal weight. Large fins may also cause the rocket to be over-stable. It may be possible to reinforce the rocket to hold higher pressures without adding too much extra weight. Correctly designed multi-staged rockets can increase the altitude of the sustainer over single stage designs. As the air cools. increasing the pressure can have a significant impact on altitude gain. 10. 14. 15. While having the correct fin profile and shape is important. Use of real-time in-flight measured flight parameters for initiating staging can achieve best results. Increase rocket volume. Use a simulator to predict the best amount of water to use for each rocket configuration. 5. This doesn't increase drag significantly. See this document for more details. Use optimally shaped fins. Fins that are larger than what they need to be add to the drag and weight of the rocket. Use 3 fins instead of 4 or more. 12. A smooth transition from the rocket body diameter down to the nozzle will assist with base dragreduction. but more drag. Ensure smooth internal water flow through the nozzle. The optimal shape will vary based on the rocket design and the rockets flight profile. The diameter of the launch tube should be as big as possible and should be about the size of the nozzle to reduce the amount of water loss as the rocket accelerates up the tube. Use the right amount of water. every particular rocket will have an optimal water fill based on its weight. The best way to increase the volume is to make the pressure chamber longer. A launch tube can have a significant effect on the apogee of a rocket. 9. larger rockets typically come in above their optimum weight and as a result need to be built as light as possible. The best time to release the next stage is just after booster burn out just as the booster starts slowing down. The ideal shape is an elongated teardrop.Tips 1. 3. Use a boat-tail on the rocket. Note that a maximum sized nozzle may not be the most optimum size after the rocket leaves the launch tube. To reduce the profile drag of your fins they should have an aerofoil profile. pressure. Increase nozzle efficiency by ensuring non-turbulent flow of water and air from the pressure chamber and through the nozzle. Optimize stage release timing. The fins should have an optimal shape. While a third the volume may be a good approximation. 2. the use of less fins should result in less drag and less weight on the rocket. Use asimulator to figure out the optimal nozzle size. it is also important to not make the fins too large. If the launcher allows it. avoiding sharp transitions. Use an optimum sized nozzle. 6. Increasing the diameter of a rocket to increase the volume will not only result in more weight. the pressure will drop in proportion to the temperature decrease. and generally lower the maximum pressure the pressure vessel can hold. Allow the air to cool inside the pressure chamber. nozzle size etc. . See this document for more details. Use optimally sized fins. at the cost of volume. 8. As air is compressed inside the rocket it is heated. Use multiple stages. Polish the inside of the nozzle. As long as the rocket's pressure chamber remains within safe limits. Due to construction techniques. 11. and the rocket is otherwise designed to be stable. Depending on the construction materials available. Releasing the next stage of a multi-stage rocket is critical in maximizing the altitude reached.