Vertical Wind Tunnel for Prediction of Rocket Flight Dynamics
A customized vertical wind tunnel has been built by the University of Canterbury Rocketry group (UC Rocketry). This wind tunnel has been critical for the success of UC Rocketry as it allows the optimization of avionics and control systems before flight. This paper outlines the construction of the wind tunnel and includes an analysis of flow quality including swirl. A minimal modelling methodology for roll dynamics is developed that can extrapolate wind tunnel behavior at low wind speeds to much higher velocities encountered during flight. The models were shown to capture the roll flight dynamics in two rocket launches with mean roll angle errors varying from 0.26 to 1.5 across the flight data. The identified model parameters showed consistent and predictable variations over both wind tunnel tests and flight, including canard–fin interaction behavior. These results demonstrate that the vertical wind tunnel is an important tool for the modelling and control of sounding rockets.