Section 3.1 - Introduction to Rocket Propulsion

It's Just Rocket Science!

We've all heard the phrase, "it's not rocket science" before, but imagine how awesome it would be to actually know some rocket science! The basic principle is straightforward enough - rockets work by action and reaction (Newton's 3rd law), pushing the vehicle forward by expelling exhaust in the opposite direction at high speeds. It's really no different from letting a balloon go and watching it fly around as air escapes the other end.
As Newton tells us, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

For rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely out of propellants carried within the rocket, unlike airbreathing engines on planes which suck in ambient air. This design is necessary in order to work in the vacuum of space.

This unit will discuss topics like engine design, rocket fuel selection, staging, and aerodynamics. Although this unit and the next require some heavy math to attain true understanding, I've only included math that non-engineers can handle (as evidenced by the fact that I understand it!) Like everything else in this blog, even the most advanced topics can be explained in layman's terms.

The mighty Saturn V moon rocket