Featured Science & Tech — 20 October 2015

Fins on Rockets

Rockets are sent into space in order to study about a variety of scientific phenomena. It is very important to decide a flight path and direction for every rocket that is launched into space. This is determined based on several critical factors that also include center of gravity and center of pressure. If you are wondering about the reason to discuss about these factors, then let us tell you that these factors are directly linked to the way a rocket is designed.

The major reason we see fins installed on a rocket is because of the desired stability of the rocket. If there are no fins on the rocket, then it will not have a stable flight and right orientation. Rockets only follow the intended flight path because they are supported by these fins. It is highly essential that a rocket does not tumble after its launch. There are many types of forces, such as wind and aerodynamic forces, which can lead to the tumbling of a rocket right after it leaves the launcher.

The center of gravity and pressure also play a significant role at this stage. Rockets are influenced by forces that are exerted by the motor and gravity. This causes inclination of rockets, as well as lifting and dragging that lead to further twists around the center of gravity. Thus, the center of pressure is located below the center of gravity and fins are attached to stabilize the twists.

Fins help the rocket in maintaining its stability, along with following the desired flight path in an accurate manner because they offer a high restoring lift force. The restoring force from these fins reduces a rocket’s turning momentum, and hence, its wobbling. Fins are ideal to be attached on a rocket, as they can be easily created and attached and are also lightweight. So next time you see a rocket, you will know why it is so balanced.


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Ruchika Pahwa

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