Rocketry and Kestrel Meters: A Customer Use Case

Rocketry and Kestrel Meters: A Customer Use Case

Rocketry is a science involving the design, build, and launch of rocket ships. These competitions are held throughout the world, but the events don't begin and end at the final launch of the rocket. In fact, weather and the environment play a role in how rockets can perform in rocketry competitions. With weather tracking devices such as the Kestrel 5500 Weather Meter, we'll explore how the environment affects these competitions no matter where they take place in the world.

"My High School rocketry team needed a way to get accurate weather data to predict the altitude of their rocket. Kestrel gave us the perfect mobile solution that we bring to every launch! It provides us enough data points in a simple file we can import into a spreadsheet and calculate our altitude with a precision we never had before. The device has great battery life, accurate info, and is fully portable and easily set up. Well done, we are ahead of the competition and Kestrel has helped us."
-Jim S

Recording of Altitude and Environmental Conditions

One of the rules in rocketry competitions is the recording of altitude and environmental conditions. For example, a challenge is to keep the rocket airborne at a certain altitude for a specified amount of time.

Since altitude is the height of an object in relation to sea level, there is much more behind this science besides simply launching the rocket into the air. Altitude rules are specified by some of the following:

  1. Altimeters - The usage of a commercially available barometric altimeter or GPS must be used to record any altitude contest. The device much have a sampling rate of no less than 10 samples per second and an accuracy rate of 3 percent of recorded altitude or better.
  2. Determining Actual Altitude - The altitude is recorded from the onboard altimeter or GPS. GPS mean sea level must be corrected to above ground sea level. The device must also indicate the number of satellites used to gather data.
  3. Scope - The purpose of the competition is to achieve the highest altitude.

Measuring Environmental Factors with Kestrel

The Kestrel 5500 is an ideal weather tracking tool for measuring factors that affect altitude. For example, the temperature can make a difference in how high a rocket flies. This is because the rocket launch will be slower on days that are hot and humid. The same can be said for the takeoff of an airplane.

Furthermore, air density is also affected by where you are located in the world. The environmental conditions (such as heat and humidity) combined with location can give you a glimpse into a successful rocket launch.

With the Kestrel 5500, you can measure elements such as temperature and humidity. It's also an efficient tool for tracking the environmental conditions so you can refer back to it during training or the next competition.

Choose Kestrel 5500 for Your Next Rocketry Competition

You can take your rocketry results to the moon with the help of the Kestrel 5500. Choose this device for your next rocketry competition and experience the full effect for yourself.

Jim, the coach of a high school rocketry team in Ohio helps his students compete in a national contest that includes over 800 high school and middle school teams across the country.

"The contest goes on throughout the year and involves a challenge that changes every year. Last year the task was to build a rocket that fit into certain parameters that carried a payload of 3 raw eggs to a specific altitude of 850 feet and a total flight time of 43 to 46 seconds. The parameters are tight, and the contest is highly competitive. The teams fly in their local area to qualify, submit their scores and the top 100 teams are invited to the national fly off which takes place in Virginia each May. The contest is sponsored by some major corporations in the Aerospace field and they offer scholarships, and pathways to internships as well as other opportunities to the participants. The winner of the flyoff then competes for the international fly off against other countries, so it is a big deal. The contest is designed to promote STEM throughout the country and provide a chance to showcase possible career paths for the students.

Our team is in Ohio, and so we do most of our testing in the winter, which creates completely different weather conditions than what we experience in Virginia in May, temp, humidity, etc. We need to capture precise weather conditions so that we can qualify, and then we need to predict and account for the atmospheric conditions that we face for finals, which is critical to our success. The difference in weather conditions can be at least 100 feet or more, and the top teams consistently come within a few feet of target altitude so as with all things, the more data the better. We made it to finals last year, but fell short on our target, so this year we are digging into the weather piece by gathering weather data for every launch we do and we are attempting to create a predictive model based on the data we get from the Kestrel unit to tweak our rocket based on conditions. This is the first year we are using the Kestrel, and so far it is helping us in our quest."

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