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Software R&D

Penumbra is our self-developed rocket simulator, prevailing where the standard solutions fall short, to keep Propulse at the cutting edge of simulation technology and experimental rocket design.

Among the capabilities are accurate trajectory simulation at sub-, trans- and supersonic speeds, employing advanced fluid mechanics to achieve real-time telemetry-based prediction, landing site prediction, and highly-multithreaded stochastic ensemble simulations that capture the effect of weather.

Technical details

Previously, the Penumbra team has developed a high-performance, statistical rocket trajectory simulator, written in C++. Last year, the work mainly consisted of developing a graphical user interface in JavaScript for smooth data visualisation.


The current team is innovating and improving upon this existing simulator framework, and looking into integreation of computational fluid dynamics. This new venture may lead to a unique and very interesting software development project, yielding great results for Propulse and student rocketry in general.





Backend and core functionality

Concept and skeleton

SA Cup 2022 participation

JS React frontend

Qt frontend switch

OpenFOAM integration test

Implement features


Polish and bug fix


Live launch visualization & landing prediction

Ensemble simulations on a dedicated server


Potential areas of responsibility

  • 6 degrees of freedom dynamics

  • Implementation of Computational Fluid Dynamics

  • Analytic aerodynamics

  • Design optimization of aerodynamic structures

  • Hardware integration and testing

  • Advanced wind modelling

  • Stochastic analysis

  • Code efficiency

  • User Interface

  • File handling

Joining Penumbra

Does this R&D project sound like something for you? Members of Penumbra get a lot of freedom and can contribute to defining the goals of the group itself. It requires a driven, independent person with an adaptive mindset to be able to familiarize yourself with unknown software. You will work together with other developers and engineers from other groups in Propulse, to create relevant software for the organisation.

Unlike the other groups in Propulse, Penumbra has no requirements to the amount of work you do. Long term (about a year), short term (a couple of weeks), or continuous (until completion of a feature or by choice) involvement can be agreed upon.

Got any questions?

Contact the Penumbra Lead, Harald Bjerkeli:

Penumbra team predicting the drop test 2022 landing site, using weather forecasts
Mayo CAD/mesh visualiser for GUI
no comment
Penumbra software showcase
Monte carlo simulations
CFD simulation of Sleipner airbrakes
Fabian looking at CFD
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