met_rocket.f - The Engineering Task

The program met_rocket.f was written at the Denel Overberg Test Range (Then the Overberg Toets Baan, OTB).

We had an open day on the Range. We also had several two stage meteorological rockets which were approaching their use-by date and which were surplus to requirements. Someone thought it was a good idea to launch one, and to deploy a parachute camera from it with which we could show the visitors the entire Test Range from very high altitude.

The problem was that the rockets had a design launch angle of 80 degrees, and this would carry the camera too far down-range to see the main range buildings. The met_rocket.f simulation was written to find a launch angle which would leave the camera in a good position. There was also a constraint that the two stages of the rocket shouldn't fall on the public. The ostriches and nearby whales could take their chances.

The program was written in extended FORTRAN 77 for the g77 compiler, hence the rather dated Fortran style. The drag parameters were estimated by matching the simulation with an 80 degree launch angle to the manufacturer's data.

The program worked fine. Sadly, we never got to fire the rocket.