The Effect of Angle of Inclination of Drag Inducing Fins on the Maximum Altitude of the Flight of a Model Rocket

Research was conducted on the relationship between the angle at which drag-inducing fins were extended to from the base tube of the model rocket and the maximum altitude reached in the flight of a model rocket for the purpose of insight pertaining to the general nature of physical air brakes and how they affect flight of a projectile. Such knowledge is pertinent to model rocketry and may be applied to aerodynamics and control of projectile motion. Experimentation followed construction of: a model rocket, an air pressure based launch device, and drag-inducing rectangular fins at angles of 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° and launching of the model rocket ten times with each type of fins attached and an altimeter inside the rocket to collect the maximum altitude of each flight. Data analysis resulted in a rather strong, indirect linear relation between degree of the attached fins and the maximum altitude, though a smaller magnitude of change between the maximum altitude of the 60° and 90° trials, which suggests that a more complex model with curvature at higher values of the independent variable are more applicable than a linear model. The maximum average altitude of the trials was 86.2 feet, which was of the 0° trials. The minimum average altitude of the trials was 60.2 feet, which was of the 90° trials. It was concluded that an increase in the angle of elevation of the drag-inducing fins did result in a linear decrease in maximum altitude of a model rocket’s flight. This conclusion should be noted to apply to specifically the scope of the research, as other works and science suggests a sinusoidal model to be the proper model for the relationship between the angle of inclination of drag inducing fins and the maximum altitude of a model rocket’s flight.

Research Conducted By:

Taif Rahman
Warren Mott High School

Tohmas Szczesniak
Warren Woods Tower High School