Faculty Sponsor: Michelle Kuchera
The creation of a viable ICBM was revolutionary in the Cold War. Take for example, the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is the closest the United States has ever come to entering full nuclear war. The missiles threatening the United States were stationed in Cuba were less than 1000km away from the US mainland. An ICBM, however, has a minimum range of 5500 kilometers making an enemy on the other side of the globe a viable target. Naturally, this made the global threat of nuclear war much more realistic since distance was much less of a consideration now. The ICBM accomplishes this task with a large and extremely powerful engine fueled by hundreds of thousands of pounds of rocket fuel. The purpose of this project is to explore how the rocket is affected by various forces, namely lift, drag, and thrust, and how different altitudes and velocities affect these forces as the rocket moves through the air. Included in this project is an animation of the rocket’s flight created using VPython. Throughout the flight various values such as angle of elevation, height, distance from launch, and drag are tracked and displayed to explore how they change throughout flight. Although the ICBM is a deadly weapon of war, the wonders of its physics are a testament to modern technology.