How to Build a Better Rocket

When was the last time that you took your laptop, stuck it inside a rocket, and launched it into the Stratosphere? For one group of kids, it was on July 23. Sony teamed up with The Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation--an affiliate of the Tripoli Rocketry Association--and an outgoing group of experimental rocketeers to put on "The Rocket Project."

Sony and the rocket clubs worked with a group of high school students, to build rocket with a Sony VAIO laptop as its "avionics package" (i.e. the rocket's brains).

Talk about one heck of a marketing campaign.

But is this really "The Ultimate Science Project," as Sony claims? I think not. It makes for great marketing, but as a rocket enthusiast, I can tell you that there are better ways to build a rocket.

There are many things that could go wrong when you launch an entire laptop as part of a rocket. A laptop needs to be able to handle some serious Gs (especially when the parachute deploys--the G forces greatly increase for a brief moment when the parachutes open). Second, a notebook adds considerable weight to the rocket, which can prevent the rocket from flying as high as it otherwise could.

When you build an avionics package for a rocket like this one, you'd want to use a micro-controller with a microprocessor, such as the ever-popular Arduino board. With that alone you save tons of weight, massive amounts of battery power, and you can much more easily control thermocouples, pressure sensors, accelerometers and even a Geiger counter.

It might not be "The Ultimate Science Project," but I will admit, I was impressed that the group launched its VAIO-equipped laptop to a height 147,000 feet. For more awesome high power rocketry, watch a Nexus One-powered rocket launch to 28,000 feet, and check out some serious launch material on the Arizona High Power Rocketry Association's site.

[Sony via Engadget]

Like this? You may also enjoy...

Follow GeekTech on Twitter or Facebook.

'), 'src':"playlist", "mode":"overlay", 'trackingId':'mediaContainer32841', 'autostart':true, 'pageURL':document.URL, "link":document.URL, "pageName" : csmbvideo.info.pageName, "videoName" : "Rapid Review: Samsung Galaxy S5", 'duration': 0, 'width':562, 'height':316, 'loadImage':"http://images.techhive.com/images/article/2014/04/samsung-galaxy-s5.still002-100261278-poster.jpg", 'prerollTag':narfVideo.preroll, "scaleMode":"stretch", "insertType":"modal", "playlistHandler": csmbvideo.getBloxArticlePlaylist }); return false; }); $('a.closeVideoModal').click(function (e) { var id = $(this).attr('href'); $('#modalMask').fadeOut(250); $(id).fadeOut(500); $('#VideoPlayerMain').html("
"); return false; }); } else { $('a.leadVideoModalClick').attr({'href':csmbvideo.leadUrl}); } }); csmbvideo.getBloxArticlePlaylist = function() { var videoPlaylist = [ { "src" : "http://images.techhive.com/media/2014/04/samsung-galaxy-s5-v2-brightcove-32841-orig.mov", "duration":"undefined" } ,{ "src" : "http://images.techhive.com/media/2014/04/amazon-fire-tv-v2-brightcove-32761-orig.mov", "duration" : "undefined" },{ "src" : "http://media.techhive.com/media/2012/08/0410-nab-8k-report-32861-orig.m4v", "duration" : "undefined" },{ "src" : "http://images.techhive.com/media/2014/04/0411-rr-fb_1-32821-orig.mp4", "duration" : "undefined" } ]; return videoPlaylist; } */ g_arrModules['tso'] = true; $.ajax('/ads/tso',{ dataType: 'json', success: function(data){ renderTSO(data.tsoLinks); }, error: function(jqXHR,error,thrown){ $thm.debug("TSO AJAX Status: "+error+": "+thrown,true); } }); $('details').details();