Members of the Rocket Competition Team finished the year strong by conducting three successful launches at the annual Battle of the Rockets Competition. The team spent several months building and perfecting a rocket to be entered in the Target Altitude Event and a rocket-and-rover system to be entered in the Planetary Rover Event.
The target altitude rocket, named “Skylark”, was designed to reach as close to 1625 feet as possible out of three attempts. Skylark’s first launch was beautiful, but due to high winds, the team was unable to recover the rocket after its landing. Even so, Skylark had undergone test launches earlier in the year that had proved successful in reaching the target altitude, and the team felt that their hard work had paid off well.
The team was able to successfully complete two launches for the Planetary Rover Event with their rocket, named “Phoenix”, and their rover, affectionately called “Ground Lark”. Phoenix was designed to reach a minimum of 1000 feet and then deploy the rover, which required a separate parachute system to ensure its safe landing. Upon reaching the ground, the rover would release a marker, travel 10 feet, release a second marker, turn 90 degrees, and travel another 10 feet. During ground testing, all systems for both the rover’s functions and its deployment from the rocket were running well. Unfortunately, although the initial launch was good, complications in the rover’s deployment from the rocket prevented it from being able to fully perform once it reached the ground. However, both Phoenix and Ground Lark were recovered safely, and the rover’s custom altimeter setup and marker-dropping mechanism were shown to work perfectly.
Despite the harsh weather conditions, the team had a blast bringing together everything they had worked for into this weekend event. Over the course of the year, the team had brainstormed and implemented designs for the two rockets and rover that fulfilled the competition requirements in creative and advanced ways. Overall, many members described the year as being a great learning experience, an opportunity to try some hands-on engineering, and (simply put) “really, really awesome”.