Model rockets can get by with only simple passive stability (i.e. keeping the CG in front of the CP). While this is potentially true with High Power rockets, it is a waste of a vehicle's potential to simply let it wander wherever it will while burning off those thousands of Newton-seconds of impulse. A straight, vertical flight is essential for obtaining maximum altitude, a goal not just for the rocketeer's bragging rights but sometimes required when flying scientific payloads.
Vertical trajectory systems (a term coined by Dave Ketchledge, see The Next Shuttle and Rocket Science) are a class of active guidance systems whose job it is to keep a rocket going completely vertical regardless of outside disturbances. In its densely packed pages, Steve Ainsworth covers guidance detection (how to know which way “up” is) and control (how to actively change your trajectory). He covers the basics of analytical system design so you know what needs to be done, and then the iterative hardware design process to build the equipment to do it.
This is not a book for beginners! A solid understanding of hobby rocket dynamics of at least the level found in the Stine Handbook is a prerequisite. Then again, you wouldn’t be looking for a book like this if you weren’t already there.
Chapter 1 – Why Vertical Trajectory Systems?
Chapter 2 – Potential Vertical Trajectory Systems
Chapter 3 – Selected System and Design Process
Chapter 4 – Design of Thruster Vertical Trajectory Systems
Chapter 5 – Vertical Trajectory Systems Past and Future