Read What a Recent Student Said About the Class
This class will teach you how to design and build your own solid rocket motors in a relaxed and fun environment. This is NOT a "cook book" propellant formula or "cook book" motor design class that leaves you without the knowledge to design your own rocket motors or formulate your own propellant. This class will teach you how to design a solid rocket motor to a desired pressure-time and thrust-time curve.
During the class, your instructor will give you a peak chamber pressure and pressure-time curve shape and you will design and build a motor to meet that goal. After your motor is built, it will be tested to see how close you come to the goal. Don't worry. You will succeed with the knowledge given to you in this class.
If you want to learn how to design solid rocket motors to a specific thrust and pressure and be able to design for progressive, neutral or regressive pressure or thrust curves, then this is the class for you. If you are now designing motors based on Kn values, but have no clue as to what your chamber pressure is or how to control the shape of the thrust - time curve, then this class is for you.
Your instructor will be John Wickman, a professional aerospace engineer and internationally known in the field of solid rocket propulsion. He will show you how to formulate a composite propellant for burn rate, performance or combustion temperature. He will also show you how to design a propellant grain pattern to give you the thrust time curve you want and how to design the motor so it doesn't structurally or thermally fail.
This is a "hands on" class so make sure you wear "work" clothes. You will mix and cast propellant as well as make rocket motor parts during the class. When you finish this class, you will have the knowledge and confidence to start designing and making your own solid rocket motors that will work the first time.
But, that's not all!! Included with the price of this class is the "How To Make Amateur Rockets - 2nd Edition" bookset. You will not find a class like this offered anywhere so enroll now as each class is limited to just a few students. A guarantee that you will receive the individual instruction you need to be successful.
Wednesday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm)
You will start by learning how all impulse rocket engines work and how they produce thrust to propel a rocket. Your instructor will show you how to determine the theoretical performance for almost any chemical combination of propellants used in solid, hybrid and liquid rocket engines. You will learn the meaning of key rocket engine performance parameters such as specific impulse, C-star, exit cone expansion ratio and many more. More importantly, you will learn by examples how to use these parameters to design your rocket motor.
The class will then shift its focus to composite solid rocket motors. Your instructor will show you how to control the thrust and pressure of a rocket motor by the propellant grain geometry and nozzle design. You will learn how to design a motor for not only a neutral thrust curve, but for any degree of regressive or progressive thrust or pressure curve you want. Did you know you can have the chamber pressure decreasing while the thrust is increasing or staying neutral? You can and your instructor will show you how. At this point, you will be assigned a maximum peak chamber pressure and pressure-time curve design goal by your instructor. Using what you have learned and the "How To Make Amateur Rockets" software, you will go on a computer and design a rocket motor to meet that goal.
You will learn how to make a simple rocket nozzle using PVC fittings, graphite and water putty.
Thursday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm)
The entire morning of the class will be on how to forumulate different kinds of composite solid propellant including ammonium perchlorate, ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate and potassium perchlorate. You will learn safe methods of handling propellant chemicals. You will learn what ingredients to add to change burn rate, change the propellant mix viscosity and other propellant formulation parameters. You will also learn how solid propellants really work and what the key ingredient is that controls the burn rate of the propellant.
After you have designed your motor, you will begin to make it. For the class, you will be making your motor out of simple PVC pipe and fittings. You will begin by cutting PVC pipe into the required lengths for the propellant cartridges. You will cut cores that will go inside your propellant cartridges. Under the supervision of your instructor, you will learn how to mix a solid rocket propellant. After the propellant is mixed, you will load it into your propellant cartridges.
Your instructor will show you how to use the software program, CHEM, to formulate a solid propellant for a desired specific impulse, combustion temperature or mix viscosity. He will show you how to convert that formulation into weights for a propellant batch plus show you a simple way to calculate the correct amount of curing agent to add to the propellant. In order to properly characterize a solid rocket propellant for use in a motor, you need to determine its burn rate coefficient and exponent. Your instructor will show you a few different methods to get the data needed to determine those values. He will also show you how to determine the coefficient and exponent once you have the data.
Friday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm)
The propellant that you mixed and cast yesterday will have cured into a nice rubbery propellant. Your instructor will show you how to pull out the cores and how to trim any excess propellant from your cartridges. He will also show you a simple way to prepare the propellant surface so your motors ignite easier.
Your instructor will show you how to measure chamber pressure and thrust during a static motor firing. He will show you the various types of instrumentation you can use, how to set it up and some places you can purchase it. You will drill and tap the rocket motor's bulkhead so that you can install a pressure tap to measure the chamber pressure when you static fire your motor, tomorrow. After that, it is time to assemble your motor.
Your instructor will show you how to do a simple thermal analysis of a rocket motor. While the motor used in the class is a simple PVC pipe rocket motor, your instructor will show you how to make motors out of other materials. Your instructor will show you the key areas of the motor that have to be insulated from the heat of the combustion gases. He will show you a simple way to protect those areas. He will also show you how to do a simple stress analysis so that your rocket motors do not structurally fail. If you are going to be making your own reloads, he will show you how to calculate the maximum pressure the reload hardware can experience without damage.
Finally, you will be shown a few simple ways to make reliable electrical igniters to ignite your motor for the static firing. You will no longer have to purchase igniters or igniter kits. You will be able to make your own from materials you can buy in your local stores. He will also show you how to make e-matches for initiating ejection charges fired by electronic deployment devices. Then, you will make your own igniter for your motor.
Saturday (9:00 am to 12:00 pm)
This is the big day. Today, you find out if your rocket motor performs as you designed it. You will be shown how to install the igniter in your motor and how to install the motor and instrumentation. After everything checks out, it is time to fire the motor.
You will press the firing button on the control panel as you watch your motor on a TV monitor. As you press the firing button, you will be touching a bit of rocket history. This is not an ordinary firing button or control panel. It is the original control panel used by Aerojet in Sacramento, California. Aerojet was called the "General Motors of Rocketry" by Time magazine in the 1960's. The control panel you are using to test your rocket motor was also used to test fire solid rocket motors powering Polaris, Minuteman and MX missiles including tactical missiles such as Sidewinder, Maverick, Harpoon and many others.
After the test, you, your classmates and your instructor will look at the measured chamber pressure as a function of time and compare it to your prediction. It will be interesting to see how close you come to the measured results. Your instructor will show you how to obtain a C-star combustion efficiency for your motor and how to obtain burn rate data from the test.
Congratulations! You have made and test fired a rocket motor you designed and built yourself. You will receive your Solid Rocket Motor Designer Certificate during a lunch time graduation celebration with pizza and drinks.
Class Location & Contact Information
The class will be held at CP Technologies facilities at 3745A Studer at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport.
Contact John Wickman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You can fly to Casper, Wyoming on Delta or United Airlines. Delta flights go through Salt Lake City, Utah with passengers routed on Skywest (The Delta Connection) from Salt Lake City to Casper. United Airlines flights go through Denver, Colorado with passengers routed on United Express to Casper. To save money, you can travel to Denver and then rent a car and drive to Casper. Interstate 25 will take you all the way to Casper.
Motels & Hotels
The class is held at our facility at the airport and there are no motels located at the airport. There are a variety of hotels and motels located in Casper in all price ranges.