Lesson 4: Rocketry Math

Launching rockets requires a lot complicated math, but it all starts with Newton’s Laws of Motion. We’re going to get a taste of the math behind the real rocket science. Using math with rocket science experiments allow scientists to figure out important information about the rocket structure, flight, and performance before it ever leaves the ground.

Download the student worksheet that goes with this lesson.

Rockets are more complicated than it might first seem. For example, as a rocket burns through its fuel, it gets lighter, which makes it easier to move through the atmosphere. Also the pressure inside the combustion chamber must be higher pressure than the outside pressure in order for the gases to escape and push out through the nozzle, which is helped by the fact that as a rocket moves up through the atmosphere, there’s less and less atmosphere for it to move through (which also means the drag force decreases). All of these things increase the acceleration (how fast speed changes when moving in a straight line) of the rocket.