Resources for Learning About Rocketry

November 20, 2023 beginner

OpenRocket requires a reasonable amount of basic rocketry knowledge to use it productively. This tutorial provides a list of resources for those who want to learn.

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Contents of this tutorial:


While OpenRocket is an excellent instructional tool, it does not by itself teach basic rocketry principles. To use it effectively, the user should have some basic knowledge about how rockets work. Here is a list of resources to help jumpstart those who are new to rocketry.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but should be good enough to get just about anyone started on their rocketry journey.

All About Amateur Rocketry

  • Regarded as the definitive guide to rocketry, G. Harry Stine’s Handbook of Model Rocketry (7th edition, 2023) is a treasure trove of knowledge, covering everything from basic principles to advanced model rocket design and launch techniques. It teaches general rocketry principles along with just about everything about model rocket design, construction, and launching. [Amazon]

  • Mike Westerfield has written two highly-regarded general rocketry books: Make: Rockets: Down-to-Earth Rocket Science is another general rocketry reference, while Make: High-Power Rockets: Construction and Certification for Thousands of Feed and Beyond focuses specifically on the high-powered end of the hobby. [Amazon 1] [Amazon 2]

About OpenRocket

  • The OpenRocket Discord server is specifically for discussion of OpenRocket itself, including user questions, bug reports, and discussions about the ongoing development of the app. [Click here to join our server]

  • The OpenRocket wiki has all sorts of documentation about OpenRocket, and its own resource page with a whole lot more technical references for those who want to do a deeper dive. [link]

  • To truly understand the inner workings of OpenRocket, delve into Sampo Niskanen’s enlightening Master’s Thesis and OpenRocket’s technical docs which builds on Sampo’s thesis. Both can be found here.

  • Head on over to our Github repository if you want to dive into the OR code.

Rocket Aerodynamics and Stability

  • OpenRocket’s Center of Pressure calculations are based on the work of James and Judith Barrowman, whose seminal paper The Theoretical Prediction of the Center of Pressure can be found on the Apogee Rockets website (PDF).

  • Estes published an excellent tech note discussing aerodynamic drag back in 1970, Aerodynamic Drag of Model Rockets (PDF) by Dr. Gerald M. Gregorek.

Online Resources

  • The Rocketry Forum (TRF) hosts discussions of just about every aspect of amateur rocketry (discussions of propellant formulations are restricted to those with L2 certification.) TRF is also an “official” place to go for help with OpenRocket. [link]

  • Ye Olde Rocket Forum (YORF) leans more towards low- and mid-power rocketry, and is a wonderful resource for learning about the history of the hobby. [link]

  • The r/rocketry Reddit page is another lively discussion forum where all aspects of rocketry are discussed. [link]. They also have a Discord server for quick support. [Click here to join the r/rocketry server]

  • The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) web pages are host to a ton of information about the hobby of amateur rocketry. [NAR] [TRA]

  • The Apogee Rockets website is unique among vendors in terms of the enormous amount of educational materials it provides. [link]

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