Design Your Own Rocket
Once you have a final design, you can run it through simulations. The simulator can apply different conditions on your rocket, like applying crosswinds or taking Coriolis effects into account, and it shows how your model rocket should behave. OpenRocket uses JFreeChart to plot your rocket's behavior based on the simulation results.
You even can add your own code to the simulation to add extra effects. One way to do this is using Python and jPype to use Python code in the simulations. Additionally, you have the ability to write and use your own expressions in the simulator. This allows you to customize the simulator to a great degree without having to add external code. Then, you can see the limits of what your model should be able to handle and how high it will go under different conditions. This is really great in helping you decide when the weather is going to be too rough for your design.
You can run an analysis on the different components of your rocket.
You can optimize your rocket to maximize certain parameters.
You can run full simulations to see how your rocket will behave in different conditions.
I have covered only the features available in the most minimal way. If you are into building and flying model rockets, your time definitely will be well spent poking around all of OpenRocket's available features. The Rocketry Forum hosts a forum where you can ask for further help. And once you have gained some experience, you can give back by helping other new rocket enthusiasts. Go ahead and design your fleet, and get yourself out into the wild frontier of space!
Joey Bernard has a background in both physics and computer science. This serves him well in his day job as a computational research consultant at the University of New Brunswick. He also teaches computational physics and parallel programming.
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