There are four major
to any full scale rocket; the
structural system, or frame, the
payload system, the
guidance system, and the
The structural system of a rocket includes all of the
parts which make up the frame of the rocket; the cylindrical
body, the fairings, and any control fins.
The function of the structural system
is to transmit the loads from the
forces generated during the flight
and to provide low
for flight through the atmosphere.
Rocket structures must be strong but light
of the rocket depends directly on the weight of
the structure. A variety of
are used to characterize the structural weight
of a rocket. The distribution of the structural
weight also affects the
center of gravity
of the rocket which, in turn, affects the
of the rocket.
During the flight of a rocket to orbit, some parts
of the structure are discarded in a process called
On this slide, we show a picture of an Atlas rocket
at the left and a picture of the Saturn V first stage at
The Atlas rocket was developed in the late 1950's
as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Two sustainer
rocket engines were discarded during the launch, but the
entire central sustainer section went into orbit.
The Saturn V was a
rocket that sent
astronauts to the Moon in 1969.
The first stage was 138 feet tall, 33 feet in diameter, and
weighed 305,000 pounds empty. The stage was filled with
4.5 million pounds of propellants prior to launch.
In the figure, the first stage is being lifted into the
vertical launch position within the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
at the Kennedy Space Flight Center.
Full Scale Rockets:
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