Total Impulse

Total impulse is an important parameter of a launch vehicle and is simply the integral of the force over time

\displaystyle I_\text{tot} = \int^{t_\text{b}}_0 F(t) \, dt = \bar{F} \, t_\text{b},

where t_\text{b} is the burn time and \bar{F} is the average force over t_\text{b}. The force from the rocket motor can vary substantially with time. Usually, a larger total impulse means a physically bigger rocket, but note that it does not mean a larger force or a longer burn time. Putting more fuel and oxidizer into a rocket means increasing the total impulse.

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This article is part of a pre-course program used by Andøya Space Education in Fly a Rocket! and similar programs.