Week 1: Rocket Fin Optimization Simulations

Feb 27, 2019

Monday: I began my research by selecting and finalizing the equations that would be relevant to this project. Two equations stood out in particular:

  1. y = (1/2Mk)*ln([T – Mgq – kv2] / [T – Mg] where y is altitude, M is mass, k is a constant, g is -9.81 m/s2, v is velocity, and T is period
  2. t = ([M/k]/√ [Mg/k])*arctan(v/√[Mg/k]) where t is time, M is mass, k is a constant, g is -9.81 m/s2, and v is velocity

These will be the two equations that the flight of my model rockets will be simulated upon.


Tuesday: My senior project advisor and I planned out which company we would order our rocket parts from. Although we have not made the decision yet, we narrowed our choices down to Altus Metrum, Glenmarc, and Noris Rocketry, for an expendable set of motors, fins, nosecones, couplers, among other parts.


 Wednesday: I downloaded the two software programs that my senior project advisor and I are going to use extensively throughout this project: RockSim and OpenRocket. These two simulation programs take in rocket dimensions and material, and output the expected maximum altitude and velocity of the rocket by utilizing the two equations I listed above. I delved into this software, attempting to understand the difference in altitude that results from a small deviation in fin shape and size.


Thursday: I continued running my software simulations, attempting to formulate the three best fin designs for optimal flight performance. However, I quickly found out that I didn’t understand the function of the coupler in rocket flight. Therefore, I spent the majority of the day researching this rocket part and questioning my external advisor on the matter.


Friday: Today was the third day of software simulations, and I created a chart of all correlations between deviations in rocket parts and the effect they have on altitude. I finalized my calculations on one rocket fin configuration, as I deduced shark fins to be optimal. These fins are a couplet, shaped like shark fins that seem to be elusively proportional to altitude. These will be one set of configurations that I will build my model rockets off of.


3 Replies to “Week 1: Rocket Fin Optimization Simulations”

  1. Ivana B says:

    I like how you gave us a breakdown of your work week. I just want you to know that it’s also OK tu sum up a week’s work in one to two paragraphs, as you won’t always have time to write a lot.

  2. Chethan B. says:

    Hi Akhil,
    This project sounds like a pretty nice mix of topics with some physics, software, and actual rocket building. Just wondering what is the period in the first equation you mentioned and what is the function of the coupler? Also, is it possible to make or simulate your own rocket fin designs? I’m excited to see how this turns out!

  3. Edrea J. says:

    This project seems to be really focused, pinpointing fin design. I think that, with all the interest in space travel recently (SpaceX just launched a spacecraft), this research will definitely be valuable. Also, you mentioned that you’ll be building model rockets. Are you constructing just the fins, or the whole rocket?

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