Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Water Rocket Noses

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
What kind of nose should I use for a water rocket?
- Angela Archer (age 14)
Angela -

I guess it kind of depends on what you want the water rocket to do. ;) But assuming you want the rocket to go straight and fast, go with a nose that's straight (i.e. not curving off to one side or the other) and aerodynamic.

So what's the most aerodynamic? You can probably figure this out all on your own just by thinking about it. Think about the rocket moving through the air. As it goes, the air molecules in front of it are in its way. What kind of shape will push those molecules out of the way the most easily? Think of pushing the same rocket through a bathtub full of marbles - what shape nose will push the marbles out of its way the most easily? Something blockey with squarish angles or something stream-lined and smooth?

Much of the reason for adding a nose cone is to pack a parachute in, if this is part of your bottle rocket project. In this case, it is good to have a nose cone that detaches when the rocket is falling, letting the parachute out (and does not detach when the rocket is going up). Also, the nose cone, like the rest of the pieces of the rocket, should be light so as not to detract much from the height of the rocket because of all the energy required to lift the rocket and the nose cone up.

-Tamara (and Tom)

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.