Flight Simulator Programs
This site provides data files for use with the various flight simulators. On this page is information on the available simulator programs. See the flight simulation page for more information on rocket flight simulation in general.
There is also a simple rocket flight simulator available right on this site as part of the motor guide. (You don't need to download any software so it works on all platforms.)
These programs are not flight simulators per-se, but are related to hobby rocket motor analysis and simulation and you may find them useful.
If you use a program not represented here, please let us know and we'll add its info and try to help you find data for it.
AeroDRAG & Flight Simulation
AeroDRAG allows the rocketeer to quickly and easily perform rocket drag (Cd) and flight simulations up to Mach 20, including support for varying Cd with velocity. It is a for-purchase program and you can find out more at the AeroDRAG page.
AeroDRAG appears to use motor data in a proprietary format and there is no obvious way to incorporate data from this site or other sources. However, it appears to be possible to download RASP format files and manually enter the data points and summary info.
Rogers Aeroscience ALT4 provides advanced flight modelling, including supersonic flight. This program is not shareware, but you can purchase it from Rogers Aeroscience Software (e-mail). You can also write to them at P.O. Box 10065, Lancaster CA 93584.
ALT4 uses motor data in indivual text files with the .EDX extension. ThrustCurve.org provides data in exactly this format. You can download data files from this site, save them into your ROGERS directory, and use them without any more effort.
CompuRoc is a shareware model rocketry simulator, including altitude prediction, ejection delay calculation, graphing capabilities, flight summaries, as well as a set of nice thrust curves for common real-world motors and complete documentation. (CompuRoc was the first simulator available for the Macintosh.) This program is shareware and you can find out more in this article.
CompuRoc uses binary motor files in a proprietary format. You can import thrust curve data from here, but you will still need to enter the motor attributes by hand once when you import.
Contributed by Dale Emery.
OpenRocket is a Free, fully featured model rocket simulator written in Java. It can be used to design and simulate rockets before actually building and flying them. OpenRocket features a full six-degree-of-freedom simulation, realistic wind modeling, a multitude of different components including free-form fins and canted fins, clustering and staging. OpenRocket is Open Source–its source code is freely available to study and extend. See the OpenRocket site for more information and to download.
RASAero is a combined aerodynamic analysis flight simulation software package. RASAero can also be used for predicting aerodynamic coefficients for use in other flight simulation programs for orbital rockets. This program is freeware and you can find out more www.rasaero.com.
RASAero uses motor files in the very common RASP format and you can add the files from this site directly to its database.
RocFlight is a Windows based, planar rocket trajectory software for launch vehicles traveling through the standard earth atmospheric model. Includes a database of common high power/model rocket motors, an optimal mass calculator, custom graphing capabilities, and a database management tool for creating and modifying custom motor files, vehicle files, aerodynamic data files and simulation case files. It handles simple model rockets as well as sophisticated sounding rockets.
See the RocFlight web site.
RockSim is a full featured rocket design and simulation program from Apogee Components. It allows a modeler to design their rocket, and then perform a detailed and accurate simulation that predicts how well it will fly. RockSim is different from other simulators in that it calculates the changing weight of the rocket as the motor burns off propellant. This not only affects the altitude, but the stability and trajectory of the rocket as well. RockSim is the first and only inexpensive rocketry program that predicts the dynamic stability of the rocket, which is how it reacts to wind disturbances. This is displayed as a movie-like animation of the rocket's trajectory; so even non-scientists can easily see how the vehicle will perform.
The software will also aid the modeler in building their rocket, as it allows printing of templates, pattern sheets, as well as 3D pictures of the model.
RockSim accepts RASP.eng files, but for greater simulation accuracy, and ease in selecting from the over 360+ certified rocket engines, users of RockSim v8 and newer should select the "RockSim Engine format" (.rse). This newer engine format saves additional information about the rocket engine. This includes the type of motor (single-use, reloadable, hybrid), and the CG curve of the motor as it burns off propellant. This becomes important in hybrid motors in particular; as the CG moves rearward as they burn, making the rocket less stable.
RockSim comes in two versions: Windows (requires Win98 or newer) and Macintosh OS X (v10.3 or newer). The design and motor data files are cross-platform compatible. You can download a trial version or purchase RockSim from Apogee Components: www.ApogeeRockets.com/rocksim.asp
Contributed by Tim Van Milligan.
SpaceCAD is a design and simulation environment which looks very complete and professional. SpaceCAD is now finished and available and you can find more at the SpaceCAD web site.
SpaceCAD uses RASP format files (.eng). Download RASP motor data files from this site and edit them into the SPACECAD.ENG file in the installation directory. However, SpaceCAD comes with an up-to-date set of motor data so this shouldn't be necessary initially.
Virtual Range is a rocket flight simulator for Mac OS X. With Virtual Range, you can test the stability and performance of model or high power rocket before you launch it. The rocket's trajectory is simulated in real time and displayed on the screen, along with information such as altitude at apogee, maximum speed, and maximum acceleration. This software is offered as a free download for educational and noncommercial use. See the Virtual Range site for more info and to download.
Virtual Range uses RASP format files (.eng). Download RASP motor data files from this site and use them for a simulation.
WinRoc is a popular suite of rocketry programs, which has a very nice graphical user interface. The WinRoc programs are the easiest to use and the latest version, WinRoc 4.5, is a 32-bit program for Windows 95 and NT. You can download WinRoc directly.
This package was written by Steve Roberson, who passed away in 2003. See the WinRoc page for more info.
WinRoc uses a monolothic motor database in binary format and there is no way to add data for a specific motor without entering it in by hand. Thus, you cannot get data for WinRoc from ThrustCurve.org. See the WinRoc page above for the latest downloads.
AeroFinSim is a structural analysis program for determining the forces acting on rocket fins and predicts the highest speed the rocket can safely attain. AeroFinSim is a Windows GUI program.
See the AeroFinSim page for more information and purchase details.
RockSim Engine Editor
The program "Engine Editor" is the software that is used to create engine files. The process of making a motor file is straight-forward. First, the user enters basic data about the rocket motor, such as weights, sizes, and available delay choices. Then the thrust curve is input into the software by clicking points on a grid plot. These points can be moved around to match the actual curve of the rocket motor. As the plot is created, the software calculates the Total Impulse, average Thrust, and Specific Impulse of the engine. Finally, the file is saved to disk, in either RASP.eng or RockSim (.rse) format. While the data files are saved in metric units, the user can enter the raw data in either English or Metric format (or a combination of both).
"Engine Editor" also has features to manage the task of organizing engine data files. You can append two different engine files into one, or break a data file containing several individual motors into separate files.
A new feature being added to Engine Editor will allow a user to read in raw Time/Thrust data from a load cell or Excel file. This will make it easier to create the time/thrust plot for home-brew rocket motors.
The Engine Editor comes bundled with the RockSim software from Apogee Components. It is available for Windows (win95 or newer) or Macintosh OS X (version 10.3 or newer). You can download a trial version or purchase the RockSim/Engine Editor combo-package from Apogee Components: www.ApogeeRockets.com/rocksim.asp
Contributed by Tim Van Milligan.
Thrust Curve Tool
Thrust Curve Tool was designed to analyze rocket motor thrust data and to produce standard ".eng" files for use with flight simulators such as RockSim. The program makes it easy to visualize the thrust curve, determine the motor's specifications, plot the data, and produce an optimal ".eng" file. It's now possible to go from motor test firing to rocket simulation in just a few minutes!
See the thrustgear.com site for more info and to download.
SMARTSim is add-on software that allows you to run multiple RockSim simulations automatically to zero in on an optimized result. This saves you time when you need to know quickly how to improve your rocket design.
SMARTSim has some very interesting optimization features which are worth exploring. It also has a batch simulation capability which can easily be set up by using the Motor Guide and exporting the motors that fit your rocket as a batch. For more info on batch processing in SMARTSim, see the manual.
See the Apogee Components site to purchase SMARTSim.
VCP – Visual Center of Pressure
VCP is a Center of Pressure/Center of Gravity stability calculator for Windows. Its spreadsheet-style operation permits easy quick looks at what-if tradeoffs when designing rockets, and its graphic display ensures data entry accuracy.
See the VCP page for more info and to download.
BurnSim is a solid rocket steady-state ballistic simulation software package for the Windows platform. In a nutshell, input your motor, nozzle and propellant characteristics and BurnSim calculates the Kn through the burn and predicts estimated chamber pressure and motor performance. Once your motor design is in BurnSim, you can tweak the parameters such as nozzle diameter or grain core diameter and instantly see how the Kn, chamber pressure, and motor thrust is affected. BurnSim will also optimize your nozzle design.
See the BurnSim site for more info and to download.