Richard Nakka's Experimental Rocketry Web Site


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Latest update: July 10, 2024

  NEW...2024 Version of Nakka-Rocketry Website 
Now Available for download... click for details

What is this Web Site all about?

This web site is devoted to the exciting activity of Amateur Experimental Rocketry !

My goal in producing this web site is to share experiences, ideas and technical details of Amateur Experimental Rocketry with others around the world who have a similar interest. It is also my dream to help inspire a future generation of rocket engineers and scientists who will some day take us to Mars and beyond...
I launched my very first amateur rocket in 1972. Since that time, so very long ago, I've built, tested and flown many rockets, powered by motors which I've developed. Over the duration of this time, I've kept detailed notes of all my work, carefully logged all the flights and other tests, and have taken countless photographs. In this web site, I am presenting at least a portion of my work. In addition to my own efforts, I am including some remarkable work done by others in pursuit of this exciting and challenging avocation.

Amateur Experimental Rocketry ?

Amateur Experimental Rocketry is, in my humble opinion, one of the most challenging, exciting and educational hobbies. Unlike Model Rocketry or High Power Rocketry, experimental rocketry is an activity whereby rockets are designed and constructed entirely from "scratch". Most components -- including motor and propellant-- are self-made. The goal of Amateur Experimental Rocketry (AER), often referred to as Amateur Rocketry, Experimental Rocketry or Research Rocketry, is to design, build, test and launch rockets. In this context, rocket may refer to the motor itself, or to a complete vehicle that consists of motor, fuselage (and stabilizing devices such as fins), nosecone, and payload. One of the greatest challenges is to develop and build such a motor, one that is safe to produce and operate, reliable, and one that provides predictable and consistent performance. A second big challenge is to develop a recovery system, such as parachute deployment, that operates with a high degree of reliability under the demanding conditions of launch followed by high speed or high altitude flight. Striving to achieve these goals (and many others) and to overcome the inevitable obstacles, is what makes this such a challenging (and at times frustrating) and educational pastime, and one that requires diversified skills combined with a good dose of ingenuity. The outcome of all this, more often than not, is that one learns to genuinely comprehend that which is colloquially known as Rocket Science.

It might be said, then, that Model Rocketry and High Power Rocketry are best suited to those who wish to make and fly rockets, and Experimental Rocketry is perhaps best suited to those who rather wish to make rockets fly!

Contents of this web site are presented for informational purposes only. Author of this web site cannot assume responsibility for the use readers make of the information presented herein or the devices resulting therefrom. Amateur Experimental Rocketry has many inherent hazards that must be fully understood before one can consider becoming actively involved. Safety must always be considered as top priority. Anything less is a disservice to all Amateur Experimental Rocketry enthusiasts. If you do not have first-rate common sense, or if you are willing to take shortcuts that compromise safety, then AER is not for you.

Latest news

April 5, 2024-- Fellow EX rocketry enthusiast Steve Peterson has written a compelling article on end-burning rockets. An end-burning rocket (formerly referred to as cigarette burning) has the distinct feature of burning solely at the end of the propellant grain, unlike typical rocket motors that burn radially. The result is a long burn time combined with relatively low thrust. What I found fascinating about the article is that Steve demonstrates that use of an end-burning rocket is a much more efficient means of attempting to achieve very high altitudes, compared to typical rockets. Definite food for thought.
Some Thoughts On End-Burning Amateur Rockets

October 26, 2023-- Over the past 5 years I have conducted nearly 100 static test firings in support of developing propellants based on Ammonium or Potassium Perchlorate. An important aspect of this testing is the determination of burn rate parameters, which are key characteristics for designing rocket motors utilizing the (more successful) of these propellants. To aid the process, I came up with a simplified method of calculating the burn rate coefficient (a) and pressure exponent (n) of any new formulation. This method employs the time-pressure curves of two or more static test results, and provides reasonably accurate results for designing experimental motors. The method is described in my new web page Simplified Method to Estimate Burn Rate Parameters.

Next on my agenda is to work on completing the Introduction to Experimental Rocket Design webpages.

March 6, 2023-- I have updated my Theory page on two-phase flow to be more comprehesive in providing design information for rocket motors with condensed-phase (smoke) in the exhaust. This is especially relevant for sugar propellant motors, of which the exhaust products are nearly 44% condensed-phase.

November 14, 2022-- I've been using graphite as a nozzle material for my ANCP and APCP powered experimental motors. I'd found that graphite erodes when the propellant formulations contain aluminum. This erosion is problematic for a number of reasons. Fortunately, I came up with a method of toughening a graphite nozzle such that erosion is essentially eliminated. I have described this method in a document I have uploaded to my site.
Toughening Graphite for Rocket Nozzle Durability

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This site originally posted July 1997

"A man's reach should exceed his grasp...else, what's the heavens for?"