FLIGHT calculates the trajectory your rocket will take and outputs a variety of useful parameters for the rocket designer such as acceleration, velocity, altitude, distance downrange, dynamic pressure, compressive load and pitch angle. These parameters can be plotted on-screen, output to your printer or saved as a file for use in a document or presentation software package. It has an easy to use interface unlike many other trajectory programs. One of the nice features of FLIGHT is that you can read in the thrust - time curve from FPRED. Now, you can design your motor in FPRED and transfer the thrust - time curve to FLIGHT and see how your rocket flies.
The ability of FLIGHT to work in conjunction with FPRED allows you to work with both programs simultaneously. Design a motor on FPRED, load the thrust - time curve into FLIGHT and see how your rocket flies. If you are not satisfied with the result, switch back to FPRED, redesign the motor and try it again in FLIGHT.
Many times you have a rocket already built and want a motor for a particular flight profile such as altitude or high acceleration. FLIGHT lets you easily input a thrust - time curve or constant thrust for a set period of time to see how your rocket flies with that kind of motor. This gives you a goal to shoot for when you design your motor and eliminates a lot of the trial and error work associated with other software packages.
With FLIGHT, you have two basic options to determine the path of your rocket. The first option is "Fixed Pitch". With this option, the rocket stays at the same angle as the launch rod during its flight. The second option is "Zero Angle of Attack, which is more representative of an actual rocket in flight. With a motor providing high acceleration off the launch rod, there will be little difference between the trajectories for the two options. However, with weaker motors providing lower acceleration off the pad, you will see a dramatic difference in trajectories between the two options. Weak motors with low acceleration off the pad and significant launch rod angles will put your rocket into "cruise missile mode" when the "Zero Angle of Attack" option is selected. FLIGHT will let you know if your motor design will send your rocket into the "North Forty" instead of straight up.
Besides the trajectory plot shown above, FLIGHT will graph key trajectory parameters as a function of time. You can change the time range and the number ticks to suit your needs. The graph of altitude as a function of time is particularly useful if you are using a timer to activate a parachute ejection charge at peak altitude.
The on-screen quick look data output is particularly useful to the rocket and motor designer. It shows peak altitude, maximum accelerations, maximum velocities, downrange distance to peak altitude, time to maximum altitude, ballistic impact distance and the velocity of the rocket off the rod or rail. This last parameter is very useful as the rocket should be traveling at least 40 ft/second off the rod or rail in order for the fins to provide adequate stability.
FLIGHT has been used by Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion Company to simulate the flight of large rockets and small. It is an accurate and reliable software package for predicting a rocket's trajectory. Casper College and NCSD students used FLIGHT in conjunction with FPRED to design the "Q" class motor used in the Pathfinder rocket launch (left). FLIGHT is used in the Casper College ES-1100 Introduction To Rocketry class.
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