Why do cylindrical rockets roll? 

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Here’s a fun question that not only have I myself asked, but I get asked fairly often, why do we hear a call out like “roger roll” or “roll program complete” at which point we can see the rocket rotate or roll on its X axis…
The best example of this was the Space Shuttle which had a very obvious and dramatic roll program. As soon as it cleared the tower, you can see it making a very impressive and sometimes scary looking roll.
Now a maneuver like this makes sense when a vehicle is asymmetrical like the Space Shuttle, but why do cylindrical rockets like the Saturn V, Titan, Atlas, Delta IV etc etc even bother doing a roll?
Can’t rockets just tip over in whatever direction they need to go? Do a little pitch here, a little yaw there just as long as the pointy end is going the direction it’s intended to go, who cares which side of the rocket is facing the Earth and which side is facing space… right?
So today we’ll first define the pitch, yaw, roll and their corresponding axis on a rocket, then we’re going to dive into why a rocket rolls in the first place, take a look at launch azimuths and their relationships to trajectories and we’ll look at some unique solutions to orientations including some rockets that don’t roll on ascent to align with their trajectory.
Want an article version of this video? Here you go! - everydayastronaut.com/why-do-cylindrical-rockets-roll/
HUGE thanks to my Moon Walker Patreon supporters! Blake Jacobs, Eli Burton, Jethro, Mac Malkawi, Neurostream, Ole Mathias Heggem, ArcTechInc and James Locke.
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Publicēšanas datums


18 jūn 2019






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komentāri 100   
Gian Daniel Briannes
Gian Daniel Briannes Pirms 9 dienām
Lol ksp included in the video
Julian Pirms 9 dienām
Hey Tim thank u very much🙏, took a while to understand the science behind rolling of rockets, had to rewind and watch it again a few times, now that I understand it I feel extra smart. Great video man👌, keep up the good work👍.
Killdeer Periland
Killdeer Periland Pirms 14 dienām
horrible channel
Raketa Solntse
Raketa Solntse Pirms 14 dienām
I only play space flight simulator
Doug Bibler
Doug Bibler Pirms 15 dienām
Wasn't roll also used on submarine ballistic missiles for alignment of the star site navigation system? Star site was used for military programs like the SR-71. Can you discuss this? I was a polaris missile technician in the late 70's. Thanks
Doug Bibler
Doug Bibler Pirms 15 dienām
Sight, spell check, arghh
Reese Macgowan
Reese Macgowan Pirms 22 dienām
12:24 * sarcastically * I wonder why waterloo...
14rs2 Pirms Mēneša
“In soviet Russia launchpad aligns you!!”
PT Invite
PT Invite Pirms Mēneša
Answer is six seconds long @ 5:27
Whoa Nelly
Whoa Nelly Pirms Mēneša
chris johnstone
chris johnstone Pirms Mēneša
"Do you actually believe the sh*t that comes out of your mouth?"
Dolganoff Pirms Mēneša
It's Rocket Roll music!
doctor donothing
doctor donothing Pirms Mēneša
with that i will go roll one up
J R Pirms Mēneša
This is one of those videos I can return to every few months. Love it.
jpooch00 Pirms Mēneša
"Rocket and Roll". That's the name of an old Three Stooges B-movie. Cool!
Jerald M. Yates
Jerald M. Yates Pirms Mēneša
From the Rocket Roll capital of the world. ✌🌐 Vimana Hanabu
Aerial Imagery
Aerial Imagery Pirms Mēneša
5:35 of wasted time to answer the question
satoshi muny
satoshi muny Pirms Mēneša
I end up being watching this video 4 times in 1 year because it is very easy to forget. watch 20:07 for summary, future myself
JCKR2 Pirms Mēneša
8 Jan 2021: Thanks for this lesson. I'm sure it's still 100% relevant.
O R Pirms Mēneša
Cause they wanna rocket roll!
Kenzo Jerro Delos Santos
Why he soo much to tell the yaw word
Prasad B R
Prasad B R Pirms Mēneša
Nice explained man Wow
Evan Régimbal élève
Evan Régimbal élève Pirms Mēneša
Roberto Mburano
Roberto Mburano Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
Amazing yxz rocket science video. Lovely done 👍🏽🚀🛰️🪐✨
Raqif Mahat
Raqif Mahat Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
Wow. You truely are a rocket science. Really hard to unpack those reasons
Leonel Aguilera
Leonel Aguilera Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
But, this still doesn't answer the question, it is not like the rockets just happened to exist and they collect them from a vine, they design them (or at least most of the ones presented here) for a specific purpose, like the Saturn V to go to the moon, why didn't they put the fuel inlets and cabin door rotated to compensate for it? I mean, you showed two options, either rotate the rocket mid flight or rotate the rocket pre-flight, this last one needing to have the platform rotated as well; but if the inlets for the umbilical cords were rotated in the design process, the rocket wouldn't need to rotate after flight nor the platform launch, other solution to that would be, again, in the design process having the whole control unit rotated. I understand it for general purpose rockets like the falcon that one day goes to the ISS and the next day goes to a polar orbit, but it doesn't makes sense to the ones that had the flight pre-tracked
Brian Park
Brian Park Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
The Russian SCUD rotated the whole pad to align for launch azimuth. I believe the early German rockets did that also. This transfers the "problem" from the rocket to the ground. The more problems you can get off the rocket, the better!
Peak Aeronautics
Peak Aeronautics Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
6:31 Why? China already does that to itself...
Reese Macgowan
Reese Macgowan Pirms 22 dienām
Ha ha LOL
Andrew Blough
Andrew Blough Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
The handsome reminder neuroanatomically preach because coal adventitiously bleach until a blue-eyed moustache. wakeful, lively drink
Aron Francis
Aron Francis Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
What a silly question, obviously its because NASA forgot to build it correctly in the VAB, so they had to roll so they could perform their gravity turn without looking dumb.
Project Retro
Project Retro Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
How do you suppress all accents?
SFS Hunter
SFS Hunter Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
You deserve at least 3 million subscribers
Alex Mothershaw
Alex Mothershaw Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
"Rocket Roll!" - Marty McFly, 1985. Well, almost that.
Diane Hansen
Diane Hansen Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
Always highly professional. Thank you. Only, this seemed a tad too complex - particularly with the various tangents.
A Pirms 2 Mēnešiem
14:21 Is that ice coming off the shuttle?
Rod Turner
Rod Turner Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Because square rockets can't?
Walter B
Walter B Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
You don’t need 20 minutes to explain why rockets roll. Your videos are much too long
Henry Choy
Henry Choy Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Hmmmmmmmmmm Why do cylindrical rock ets roll? From the language FRENCH, ET means AND. So Cylindrical Rock and Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Himesh Singh
Himesh Singh Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
"The question is not how , it's when ? "
Ralf Dietrich
Ralf Dietrich Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
many minutes for such an easy subject
alex sosa
alex sosa Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
The man loves talking about rockets. It makes it so much easier to listen when the speaker is enthusiastic about the topic. Well Done.
Stan Szeto
Stan Szeto Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
The reason to roll because of computational limitations is really quite old. So is gimbal lock.
Dr. Sazid.
Dr. Sazid. Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
HeyyItsNick Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Because... round things roll 🤪
SandwichLord93 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
michael walters
michael walters Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
As an old FTB from the Poseidon era of things now launch off a submarine where your heading is always changing. OAG
陳鵬 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
You forgot centripetal distribution of fuel / slosh dampening.
MisterK Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
brain melted! ;(
Алексей Алексеевский
Let's Roll))
JP Tucson, AZ
JP Tucson, AZ Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
...cuz they can't do hand springs! How does that go...? Oh yeah, because space is hard! It's like rocket surgery, er... science. Thanks for the multiple reason explanation.
space guy 9 32
space guy 9 32 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
How old is your KSP?!
Harry Ferrett
Harry Ferrett Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Great vidoe
kwartylion Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
gyroscopic effect
Ralph Barbetta
Ralph Barbetta Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
How could the earth's rotation help 'boost the rocket if rotation plays NO part in a plane landing? A plane... or anything for that matter... cannot land on something spinning over 1,000mph.
max5250 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
@Ralph Barbetta "so ALL runways on the planet are facing the same way?" Nope, who told you that stupidity?! "Listen to yourself." Maybe you should listen to your own advice. "Your saying rotation works for rockets but has no application to planes." Nope, he haven't said anything like that. "The earth is... yes, I'm gonna say it... FLAT " Let's see.... nope, it isn't. Try a little harder. "The atmosphere knows what's in it?" Atmosphere moves with the Earth, rockets a d space do not move with the Earth. "Think for yourself." If you could do that, you would easily understand how stupid your claims are. "Just because it's in a text book doesn't make it true bro ." Just because your are uneducated and dumb, it doesn't mean you are smarter than entire humanity combined, quite the opposite.
Ralph Barbetta
Ralph Barbetta Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
@Everyday Astronaut and what separate's them from acting different? The atmosphere knows what's in it? Come on bro... stop believing what your told to be true. Think for yourself. Does that REALLY... REALLY make sense in your head.? Just because it's in a text book doesn't make it true bro
Ralph Barbetta
Ralph Barbetta Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
@Everyday Astronaut so ALL runways on the planet are facing the same way? Come on bro. Listen to yourself. Your saying rotation works for rockets but has no application to planes. The earth is... yes, I'm gonna say it... FLAT
Everyday Astronaut
Everyday Astronaut Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
The plane keep its movement relative to earth and the atmosphere it flies through moves with it too. This is not the case with rockets.
27mal5 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
@Everyday Astronaut....Tim, what can I say? It is always a great pleasure to take some time and look and enjoy your videos. So much great information and footage. Thank you so much. You bring space and space technology to us with your fantastic enthusiasm. Hope you are doing good in these special times. Stay safe. Cheers from Germany.
DJatVRR Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Just realized there should be independent comments sections for thumbs up and thumbs down.
Toaster having a bath
Toaster having a bath Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Rob Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Wow, I think you just got every single axis in KSP wrong... Red is X, Green is Y, Blue is Z.
Matthew Beddall
Matthew Beddall Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Just a thought, you mentioned the csm being 180 degrees off on the x and y axis from the Saturn 5. Wouldn't that be to align the csm with the lem and make docking easier, thereby using up less fuel from.the reaction control thrusters?
Douglas Bell
Douglas Bell Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Zee or Zed
FotY Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
In Russia launchpad moves you
Paola Bulgari
Paola Bulgari Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
It took me 8:01 to figure out his eyes, then I started understanding the roll.
CaptBrick Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
The real question is: do spherical rockets roll?
Alexagrigorieff Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Do androids dream of electric sheep?
Drino Zhao
Drino Zhao Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
The man loves talking about rockets. It makes it so much easier to listen when the speaker is enthusiastic about the topic. Well Done.
Jasmine Thomas
Jasmine Thomas Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Jasper Kuijstermans
Jasper Kuijstermans Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Am i the only one who just noticed he has two different colour eyes? looks pretty cool tbh. (also nice vid)
solomanwill1 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
10:47 Stannis Baratheon has entered the chat: "Fewer"
PieceControl Fn sucks
PieceControl Fn sucks Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
I’m learning more in LVlocal as years go by.... I can crush my history class cuz of oversimplified
Jack Goldstein
Jack Goldstein Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Great information. Thanks
Das Boot
Das Boot Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
I think l broke my uterus watching this video
Aaron Bartholomew
Aaron Bartholomew Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
I laughed at "...so Russia can participate without dropping boosters on China." There are enough Chinese boosters being dropped on China already.
Holmesy87 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
You know those weight loss videos, or get rich quick money making videos, that talk for 20 minutes and then right at the end go "yeah, to find out, buy my book" This video is like that, just without the book at the end. 20 minutes of bullshitting for what could have been properly explained in less than 5.
prathamesh ponkshe
prathamesh ponkshe Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
All spaceships roll !
Dan Carlo Rata
Dan Carlo Rata Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
spinning rocket rolls from other rockets like NASA and SpaceX.... these rockets could spinning like a top
Nature And Astrophotography
Nature And Astrophotography Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Just guessing before knowing but I think it's because it aligns the fin or engines of the rocket to the geographical north and south making pitch and yaw easier to control.
C Miller
C Miller Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Hmmm, seems like a potpourri of maybe or possible reasons, with no mention of aligning orbit to the moon's slightly inclined orbital plane, in the case of moon landing missions
meesalikeu Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Hmm, why do I want to play rage against the machine next? 😂
Joshua TV
Joshua TV Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Compass sprocket hence sp-rocket
Athul Krishna
Athul Krishna Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
This is literally Rocket science
内田ガネシュ Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
12:54 And this people is why we need mathematicians for.
Bo Peradotto
Bo Peradotto Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
2:52 something doesn’t look right here
Lennart Wijers
Lennart Wijers Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
for those in a hurry, answer at 20:15
Patrick Bolt
Patrick Bolt Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Is it just the lighting in the room where you are, or do you have two different color eyes? Anyway thanks for the explanation on the roll. Always wondered why that occurred knew it was important but never knew why.
neptune Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Actually the space shuttle needs to roll because if it didn't roll the wings will be stressed out
AtomAnt Ole !
AtomAnt Ole ! Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
They don't say "Roket science" for nothing.
Mareks Zirdziņš
Mareks Zirdziņš Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
This is informative, inspiring and just pure joy to watch!
Chris Smith
Chris Smith Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
I seriously think you didn’t answer the question at all in this entire 22 minutes.
Rob Coates
Rob Coates Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Very interesting and excellently explained. And I like the way you admit if you don't know something or aren't sure. That makes you much more credible. I'm always suspicious of someone who claims they know everything (not mentioning any names that are very much in the news at the moment! 😊) Cheers from DownUnder.
Art Alagao
Art Alagao Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
"Actually, it is rocket science."
Art Alagao
Art Alagao Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
10:47 Stannis Baratheon has entered the chat: "Fewer"
Weske44 Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
I completely understand 😳
Alan Beckett
Alan Beckett Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Actually, isn't IMU an acronym for Inertial Measurement Unit
Christian Petersen
Christian Petersen Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
I could barely get through the gas generator cycles video once. Please don't make me watch it again! Lol
James Turner
James Turner Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
You look like a young will wheaton.
delinquentdesign Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
I look at it like flying a rocket with an etch-a-sketch trying to draw a 37.5268° angle it can be done but with tons of adjustments it’s inefficient as well as dangerous could cause vibrations In flight. On top of it being easier to compute direction.
rex bombardelli
rex bombardelli Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Shuttle rolls to avoid charging the wings
Aviectus G.
Aviectus G. Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
So why they are not building the pad with the correct orientation in mind?
Peter Schings
Peter Schings Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Hey Tim, thanks for the video (again). Really informative and hard work that went into this. You are slowly becoming my main source of information about rocket science and that is reaaally nice, since I never found any channel like yours. So diverse and well made!
Danger Dan
Danger Dan Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
Hey Tim, can you explain why the Shuttle seemed to immediately drift sideways from the launch tower, right after liftoff? Was that for safety reasons... or does that have to do with earths rotation somehow?? 🤔 Great video, by the way 😎
max5250 Pirms 3 Mēnešiem
Space Shuttle was always start rolling before aligning sideways, and it has to orient sideways since it is going into orbit around that Earth, and orbiting direction is 90 degrees off of the launching orientation (which is mandatory since this is the most efficient way of placing a rocket into orbit).
Andreas Klein
Andreas Klein Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
This is a very good introduction to aerospace students as an overview (first year). Good and pleasant
robbedontuesday Pirms 4 Mēnešiem
I was convinced manned rockets rolled to turn negative G's into positive G's... so crews don't red-out.
Customizing a Rubik's Cube
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