Week 4

This week, we learned about aerospace engineering.  To prepare for our project, we did a series of tasks such as building a foam airplane, a wooden airplane, and making a straw rocket.  These taught us about center of gravity and center of pressure and gave us an idea on how to build our own rockets and airplane.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineers develop aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and misssiles.  They may develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft.  There are two types of aerospace engineering: aeronautical and astronautical.  Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft.  They study the theory, technology, and practice of flight.  Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the earth's atmosphere.  Both of these fields depend on the basic principles of physics.


This week, we had to design and build a model airplane.  We made it out of foam and attached servo motors to control the elevator and rutter.  Our group also decided that instead of making polyhedral wings, we would make a five degree dihedral wing with ailerons.  When we tested our airplane, it didn't work very well because the plane was too heavy for the motors.  Our plane would fly forward then flip and crash land.  If we were to redo this project, we would make the plane smaller so that it doesn't weigh as much or we would use stronger motors.


The goal of the rocket was for it to take off and release a parachute when it comes back down.  We used a simulation to try out different designs and used the one that worked the best.  The simulation also showed us that the center of gravity was above the center of pressure which is needed for the rocket to work properly.  Some hardships we had while making this rocket was that we made the nose to be the wrong length and had glued it onto the rocket, so we had to saw it off and make a new one.  Another problem was that the center of gravity wasn't exactly where we wanted it, so we added more weight to fix the problem.  When we tested it, the rocket flew up really high, but the parachute didn't deploy.

Water Bottle Rocket

The water bottle rocket is made to model a space shuttle.  After the water bottle rocket launches, it needs to release a glider.  We programmed an Arduino to be a timer that would then activate a servo motor to move 180 degrees.  The servo motor would loosen a string that was holding the glider and would let the glider seperate from the rocket.  Some challeneges we had while building this was that there was no guide on how to build it so we had to make it from scratch and didn't know exactly how it should look.  Another problem was that we didn't know where to locate the parachute on the rocket.  Finally, the arduino made the rocket unbalanced so we had to work to balance it again.  When we tested it, the bottle rocket split in half and exploded instead of taking off.