Author Topic: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?  (Read 3143 times)

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Offline Toonces

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Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« on: October 03, 2018, 07:34:12 PM »
No, seriously.

We all know the saying, "How hard can it be, it's not rocket science."  Well, I'd like to learn more about what is so hard about rocket science.

A search on Amazon was surprisingly unfulfilling.

Anybody really into this and can recommend a couple of good books on the subject?  I think I'm looking for something more like a textbook than a "history of rocket science" type book.
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2018, 08:17:38 PM »
Actually, there are a couple of video games which serve as pretty good textbooks for "rocket science". One is the Keebler... Kevlar.... Kelvin...... dangit. Korbal!! ...no. {looking it up}

Kerbal Space Program.

The other is a hardcore orbital mechanics combat simulator, Children of a Dead Earth. https://store.steampowered.com/app/476530/Children_of_a_Dead_Earth/

You are expected to learn legitimate rocket science in either game.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 08:19:32 PM by JasonPratt »
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Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2018, 08:27:56 PM »
If we are talking computer simulations (as opposed to books) as a learning tool then don't forget Orbiter:

http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/


Quote
Orbiter is a freeware space flight simulator program developed to simulate spaceflight using realistic Newtonian physics. The simulator was released on 27 November 2000; the latest edition, labeled "Orbiter 2016", was released on 30 August 2016, the first new version of the simulator since 2010.[1]

Orbiter was developed by Dr. Martin Schweiger, a senior research fellow in the computer science department at University College London,[2] who felt that space flight simulators at the time were lacking in realistic physics-based flight models, and decided to write a simulator that made learning physics concepts enjoyable.[3] It has been used as a teaching aid in classrooms,[3] and a community of add-on developers have created a multitude of add-ons to allow users to fly assorted real and fictional spacecraft and add new planets or planetary systems.[4][5]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbiter_%28simulator%29
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Offline Barthheart

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2018, 05:57:12 AM »
I agree with the two gents above. You'll probably learn more using these simulators than reading a book.

Capt. Darwin is the resident rocket scientist, for real.

Offline MikeGER

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 10:41:01 AM »
Toonces, rocket science is not so much about calculating trajectory and orbit injection
its about to get a working rocket first
and all the engineering calculation had to be done with logarithm charts and slide rulers

Advances made by the Von Braun Team:
1 - rapid, reliable fuel delivery by turbo centrifugal pumps
2 - multi-burner (18) combustion chamber
3 - thrust chamber cooling jacket & internal film cooling via fuel diversion
4 - gyro controlled steering vanes (nozzle vectoring used today)
5 - anti-agitation fuel tanks

forget the text books enjoy the video ^-^

Offline trailrunner

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 02:50:36 PM »
One of the few areas I have not worked in over my career has been on rockets.  However, I have worked on systems to shoot them down, and much of my college was on thermodynamics, combustion, and rocket propulsion.  My advisor in grad school had fled Germany before the war, and after the war, worked with many of his expatriates at CalTech and JPL.  He wrote a couple of books on the thermodynamics and combustion of rocket propulsion.

As Mike says, what made rocket science hard was in addition to some physics and chemistry breakthroughs, there was a lot of dirty engineering of the subsystems, and then integrating it into a system that works together.  That's just to get it off the ground.  Once off the ground, there was guidance and stability, and working out the trajectories.

About 5 years ago I was doing a field test at WSMR.  In the distance I noticed some concrete structures, and one of our hosts told me that they were made to test the V-2s after the war.  I got a ride up to the site on an ATV and got to walk around and see the building and some sort of control board that hadn't been used in 50 or 60 years.


Offline trailrunner

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 03:21:21 PM »
After I made my last post, I realized that I did, very briefly, work as a rocket scientist, or more accurately, as a rocket engineer.

It was late afternoon, and I was walking down the hall, looking forward to going home soon.  My division director stopped me and asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was working on this project and that project and then next month some other project, but he interrupted me and said "no, I mean what are you doing right now, this moment?"  I told him I was going to my lab and shut down the laser and go home soon.  He told me to drop everything and go over to another one of our buildings and help with a tiger team over there.

Our company had made a fuel system for some rocket, and the rocket had failed several ground tests because of our fuel system.  So for the next couple of weeks, including nights and weekends, we worked to figure out the problem, implement a solution, and test it.  We tested it in the lab, sent the fix to where they were actually testing the rocket, and it was a success.  I was happy that it succeeded, but after working long hours for a couple of weeks, I was just happy to get my life back and get back to my projects.

BTW, that was in the Fall of 1990.  Even then, we were making engineering mistakes.

Offline Toonces

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2018, 10:01:09 PM »
Guys, I'm familiar with the space computer games.  I've also taken some space systems classes in grad school.  I understand the basic principles of orbital mechanics.

Mike and TR are thinking more along the lines I'm talking about.  I'd like to learn more about what makes building and flying rockets so hard.  It could be that what I'm looking for is too complex to find in a single book.  I was hoping something like "Principles of Rocket Science" or something like that...like a good upper-level undergrad to graduate level introductory text book to the subject.
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Offline Toonces

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2018, 10:17:44 PM »
Doing some more searching on Amazon, maybe the book I'm looking for doesn't exist.  I'd be willing to work through a handful of books to explain the steps...not sure where to start, though.
"If you had a chance, right now, to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it?  I mean, I personally wouldn't stop him because I think he's awesome." - Eric Cartman

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Offline MikeGER

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2018, 12:55:40 AM »
Toonces i would start reading about the V-2 or named Agregat 4
looking for books about its development and technic not so much the historical usage and counter operations     
and how that carried over into the early years of US rocketry which later have led to the Saturn V 

maybe this could be a starter.
https://www.schifferbooks.com/germanys-v-2-rocket-3085.html

here is a blueprint from a different source  ...if you start digging into the topic it can get technical nerdy very fast …. well rocket science :) ….now where i have seen that blueprint i want a higher resolution of the pic ^-^


..now where i have seen that blueprint i want a higher resolution of the pic ^-^
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 01:01:51 AM by MikeGER »

Offline bob48

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2018, 05:54:46 AM »
My total understanding is that of the 4 components of flight, Weight, Drag and Lift are all exceeded by Thrust  ??? Other than that, I know nothing.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2018, 05:46:21 PM »
Don't forget to factor in the UWTB. Bioengineering hominids to evolve and eventually deliver spare parts for your spacecraft just when you need them makes for a good back-up plan.
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Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls and nothing's ever worth the cost...

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I got my time machine, got my 'electronic dream!"
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Offline trailrunner

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2018, 07:23:18 PM »
Mike and TR are thinking more along the lines I'm talking about.  I'd like to learn more about what makes building and flying rockets so hard.  It could be that what I'm looking for is too complex to find in a single book.  I was hoping something like "Principles of Rocket Science" or something like that...like a good upper-level undergrad to graduate level introductory text book to the subject.

I don't think there's anything inherently hard about building and flying rockets, except that it's a lot of what I call "dirty engineering."  There were a lot of practical things to overcome -- just coming up with a way to know where the rocket was wasn't a simple thing, and spawned the creation of internal navigation systems.  We take that for granted now, but back then we didn't know how to do that. 

Rockets combine a lot of different systems and phenomena, and getting each one right is a challenge, and then getting them all to work together is an even greater challenge.  As such, I don't think you'll find a single textbook that covers it all.  I've found that to be the case for a lot of systems I've worked on.  You can find a text on one area, but not a single book on all areas.  Somewhere upstairs I have my old text books on rocket propulsion, but that's just one slice of the overall system, and those books tend to be more theoretical than practical.  For liquid-fueled rockets with pumps, you could find a text book on pumps, and maybe there is a chapter on specialized rocket pumps.  However, in my experience, a lot of this specialized knowledge is stored institutionally, either in a lab or with a contractor. 

I think the term "rocket scientist" was a product of the times.  After WW2, some of our best and brightest worked on building rockets.  Unlike an invention like the transistor, everyone could understand what a rocket was and what it did.  There was a lot of attention on the space race, and engineers during this time probably gained a little bit of status because the country was depending on them.  NASA and landing on the moon also probably gave us humble, geeky engineers a little panache.

I would think that there is a book somewhere that chronicles the history of rocket development.  That should document the failures and the problems that had to be overcome.  This one seems to be pretty popular:

https://www.amazon.com/Rocket-History-Development-Missile-Technology/dp/0517534045/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538788395&sr=8-1&keywords=history+of+rocket+development&dpID=519t4-mhBKL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Not sure if this helps?

Offline Toonces

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2018, 09:56:21 AM »
^ That's actually very interesting.  I hadn't thought of it in those terms.

Well, regardless, I might get myself a few books and start an exploration of the topic.  It's always been something I want to learn more about.
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Offline Gusington

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Re: Is there a rocket scientist in the house?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2018, 10:53:08 AM »
Have you ever been to Barking Sands? My in laws stay at the military hotel there and have told me it’s a very interesting place 👽
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