# SPACE ENGINEERING-REBELLING ROCKETS

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1 SPACE ENGINEERING-REBELLING ROCKETS MAKING ROCKETS AND LAUNCHING COMPETITION Experiment Objective: Students will design and construct a small rocket and rocket fuel. They will then launch the rockets and compete for the highest height. The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to basic rocket science and the chemistry and mechanisms behind it. Learning Goals: Students will learn the key concepts of rocket science, including chemicals of rocket fuel, launching mechanisms ad forces. Students will be able to explore how different variations of rockets affect the launching distance. LESSON IMPLEMENTATION OUTLINE Introduction: The paper rocket in this activity is propelled according to the principle stated in Isaac Newton's third law of motion: "For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction." In this case, we can interpret the law to mean that if there is a force applied between two things, each thing feels the same sized force, but applied in opposite directions. In our rocket, gas pressure builds inside the film canister due to the mixing of Alka-Seltzer and water and the gas applies a force to both the canister and the lid. Eventually, enough pressure builds to blow apart the canister and lid; the canister and lid/gas/water are pushed apart in opposite directions. Lesson Background and Concepts: A rocket is a vehicle, missile or aircraft which obtains thrust by the reaction to the ejection of fast moving exhaust gas from within a rocket engine. Often the term rocket is also used to mean a rocket engine. There are many different types of rockets, and they range in size from tiny models that can be purchased at a store to enormous Saturn V used for the Apollo program. Rockets take off if they have enough fuel to take them beyond the Earth s gravitational pull.

2 The blast of the fuel igniting pushes the rocket up into the air in the opposite direction to the way the blast of flames is going. Rockets have enormous tanks for fuel and oxygen. Rockets need to carry oxygen because there s no oxygen in space and fuel needs oxygen to burn. Jet engines work the same way rockets work. They need oxygen to burn fuel to give them the push to fly up and through the air. The blast of a fire and gasses that shoot out of the back of a rocket is around 10,000 kilometres per hour. Rocket propellant is mass that is stored, usually in some form of propellant tank, prior to being used as the propulsive mass that is ejected from a rocket engine in the form of a fluid jet to produce thrust. A fuel propellant is often burned with an oxidizer propellant to produce large volumes of very hot gas. These gases expand and push on a nozzle, which accelerates them until they rush out of the back of the rocket at extremely high speed, making thrust. Sometimes the propellant is not burned, but can be externally heated for more performance. For smaller attitude control thrusters, a compressed gas escapes the spacecraft through a propelling nozzle. Chemical rocket propellants are most commonly used, which undergo exothermic chemical reactions which produce hot gas which is used by a rocket for propulsive purposes. Thrust is the amount of push a rocket engine provides to the rocket. Propulsion works when matter (something you can touch--like a gas or a liquid) is pushed out the back of a spacecraft. The amount of thrust or push in a spacecraft is related to how much matter is leaving the engine and at what speed the matter is leaving, minus resistance. Although resistance is important in flight on Earth or in getting off of Earth, once a ship enters space, it becomes less important. Since thrust is determined by both mass and speed, you can reduce either speed or mass of propellant and have same amount of thrust. Conventional rockets have a lot of propellant going out relatively slowly, while ion propulsion rockets have little propellant going out fast--they make an equivalent amount of thrust. In military terminology, a rocket generally uses solid propellant and is unguided. These rockets can be fired by ground-attack aircraft at fixed targets such as buildings, or can be launched by ground forces at other ground targets. In all rockets the exhaust is formed from propellant which is carried within the rocket prior to its release. Rocket thrust is due to the exhaust gases applying pressure on the inside surfaces of the rocket engine as they accelerate.

3 Most current rockets are chemically powered rockets (internal combustion engines). A chemical rocket engine may use solid propellant, or liquid propellant, like the Space Shuttle's main engines, or a hybrid. A chemical reaction is initiated between the fuel and the oxidizer in the combustion chamber, and the resultant hot gases accelerate out of a nozzle (or nozzles) at the rearward facing end of the rocket. The acceleration of these gases through the engine exerts force ('thrust') on the combustion chamber and nozzle, propelling the vehicle (in accordance with Newton's Third Law). However not all rockets use chemical reactions. Steam rockets have also been used. Steam rockets store superheated water under high pressure in their propellant tanks. The water may be at any temperature from 200 C to 500 C or more. When water is released through a nozzle it instantly flashes to high velocity steam, propelling the rocket. Rockets where the heat is supplied from other than the propellent, such as steam rockets, are classed as external combustion engines. Other examples of external combustion rocket engines include most designs for nuclear powered rocket engines. Use of hydrogen as the propellent for external combustion engines gives very high velocities. Rockets must be used when there is no other substance (land, water, or air) or force (gravity, magnetism, light) that a vehicle may employ for propulsion, such as in space. In these circumstances, it is necessary to carry all propellant within the vehicle, until use. Typically, the acceleration of a rocket increases with time, even when applying the same thrust- due to decreasing fuel mass. Discontinuities in acceleration will occur when stages burn out, often starting at a lower acceleration with each new stage firing. Getting Into Space A powerful rocket called a launch vehicle or booster helps a spacecraft overcome gravity. All launch vehicles have two or more rocket sections known as stages. The first stage must provide enough thrust (pushing force) to leave Earth's surface. To do so, this stage's

4 thrust must exceed the weight of the entire launch vehicle and the spacecraft. The booster generates thrust by burning fuel and then expelling gases. Rocket engines run on a special mixture called propellant. Propellant consists of solid or liquid fuel and an oxidizer, a substance that supplies the oxygen needed to make the fuel burn in the airlessness of outer space. Lox, or liquid oxygen, is a frequently used oxidizer. In many rocket launches, a truck or tractor moves the rocket and its payload (cargo) to the launch pad. At the launch pad, the rocket is moved into position over a flame pit, and workers load propellants into the rocket through special pipes. At launch time, the rocket's first-stage engines ignite until their combined thrust exceeds the rocket's weight. The thrust causes the vehicle to lift off the launch pad. If the rocket is a multistage model, the first stage falls away a few minutes later, after its propellant has been used up. The second stage then begins to fire. A few minutes later, it, too, runs out of propellant and falls away. The launch of a space shuttle is slightly different. The shuttle has solid-propellant boosters in addition to its main rocket engines, which burn liquid propellant. The boosters combined with the main engines provide the thrust to lift the vehicle off the launch pad. After slightly more than two minutes of flight, the boosters separate from the shuttle and return to Earth by parachute. Alka-Seltzer Rockets Alka-Seltzer is mainly sodium bicarbonate and citric acid. When these two chemicals are mixed in a water solution, Carbon dioxide gas and sodium citrate in aqueous solution are created in an exothermic (generates heat) reaction (the reaction is: H3C6H5O7(aq) + 3 NaHCO3(s) --> 3 CO2(g) + 3 H2O(l) + NaC6H5O7(aq) ). The heat released in the reaction increases the pressure of CO2 gas that is liberated. The mechanical pressure required to snap the lid onto the canister is the limiting factor that determines the altitude that can be reached. This is because, regardless of water temperature, amount of water or amount of CO2 gas, or chemical composition of the reactants, the "lid sealing pressure" sets an upper limit on the CO2 gas pressure that can build up in the canister. So let's say that you decide to speed up the reaction by using hot water. Unfortunately, the film canisters are made of high density polyethylene, which is a thermoplastic. This is another way of saying that the plastic gets soft when you heat it. As the plastic gets softer, it stretches more easily. This means that the gas pressure seal between the lid and the container gets weaker when the plastic is heated, thereby lowering the pressure at which the lid pops off. So although you can speed up the rate at which CO2 gas is generated by using hot water, the altitude will decrease, because the maximum pressure attainable within the canister decreases.

5 Types of Rockets Lab Activity Instructions: Students will perform the rocket experiment in pairs or in groups of three and can share ideas among each other. Instructors will explain the materials used to make the rocket and the chemistry behind the fuel used for the rockets. Students are given the time to design and test their rockets. Allow one instructor for demonstration and other instructors as assistants around the classroom. Materials: empty film canister with lid (air-tight), markers, coloured pencils, tape, glue, scissors, Alka-Seltzer tablets, water (hot water works faster), rulers, meter sticks, paper, rocket design templates, safety goggles Procedure: Part 1: Rocket Construction 1. Select a rocket pattern (four different patterns). The printed pattern has two parts: the fins and nose cone/body. Cut the nose cone and body out as one piece. 2. Tape the body onto the film canister and roll the paper around the side, and tape the end down. The lid end of the film canister goes down.

6 3. Roll the nose cone around into the shape of a cone and tape it together. Straighten the nose cone so that it points towards the center of rocket and tape it to sides. 4. Construct the fins and slide the fins over the body and tape in place. Part 2: Rocket Launching 1. This is an outdoor activity and should avoid windy and rainy conditions. Wind will add weight to the rocket and will reduce the altitude. Launch near a wall where a metric tape is placed and the height of launch can be measured. Everyone should stand 1m away from loaded rockets when they are on the launch pad. 2. Fill film canister with 1/3-1/2 full of water. Use about ¼ of an Alka/Seltzer tablet. 3. Add the water, drop in the tablet and place the lid on and plant the rocket to your launch pad. It may take 30 to 45 seconds to build up enough pressure to launch with cold water so a loaded rocket should not be approached. These rockets can shoot up to 5 meters or more into the air. Check for student understanding: Ask students to explain how Newton s Laws of Motion apply to this rocket. Compare the rockets for skill in construction. Rockets that use excessive paper and tape are likely to be less efficient because they carry additional weight. Extensions and connections: Students can relate the alka-seltzer rocket to real rockets and explore how they are similar and different. They can learn how fuel and different rocket designs can affect speed and improvement for future. CURRICULUM CONCEPTS Rocket Chemistry-Chemical Reactions References:

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