Flying model rockets is a relatively inexpensive way for students to learn the basics of aerodynamic forces and the response of vehicles to external forces. Like an aircraft, a model rocket is subjected to the forces of weight, thrust, drag, and lift. There are, however, some important differences in the actions of these forces on a model rocket as opposed to a powered aircraft or a glider:
Separate slides show the forces acting on a model rocket during liftoff, powered flight, the coasting flight going upward and downward, and the final parachute recovery.
A model rocket rotates in flight about the center of gravity (the average location of the weight of the vehicle), just like any other flying object. It is easier to determine the center of gravity for a model rocket than for an aircraft. There are fewer components on a model rocket, and the geometry is much simpler than for an aircraft.
NOTE: Modern full scale rockets do not usually rely on aerodynamics for stability. Full scale rockets can pivot their exhaust nozzles to provide stability and control. That's why you don't see fins on a Delta, Titan, or Atlas booster.
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