Category Archives: Target Altitude

Yale Aerospace Returns Victorious

This weekend, twenty-three members of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association traveled to Culpeper, Virginia to compete in the ‘Battle of the Rockets’ competition sponsored by AIAA and Praxis Inc. The team competed in two events: the Astro-Egg Lander and Target Altitude.

When the teams arrived on the competition site at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, they found themselves in an empty farm field along with eleven other teams. At 11:10 a.m. the Target Altitude team attempted its first test launch of the YSS Nathan Hale – the only hybrid rocket at the entire competition. Unfortunately the rocket had issues during the ignition process, and the rocket never left the launch pad

At noon, the Astro-Egg Lander team headed out to the launch site to set up for their first test launch of the YSS Eli Whitney. On the opposite side of the launch site, the Target Altitude team was setting up for a second test launch. They did one last connectivity test before leaving the launch site to watch from a safe distance. This time around, the YSS Nathan Hale was ignited, but only managed to launch a few feet into the air before crashing back to the ground. The rocket, to the team’s dismay, broke into several irreparable pieces.

The Astro-Egg Lander team experienced more success with their first launch. The rocket reached a peak altitude of 1628 feet and effectively deployed its parachute to float safely back to the ground. Unfortunately, the launch was not a complete success, because the nose cone detached without deploying the lander aircraft. Nonetheless, the team considered this a successful first launch with a new, more powerful J class motor.

At this point, the Target Altitude team finished examining what had happened during the YSS Nathan Hale’s second unsuccessful test flight, and concluded that the actual hybrid motor was working, but that there was a nitrous oxide leak somewhere within the rocket. The team began constructing an entirely new rocket to be launched later in the day.

While the Target Altitude team worked diligently to construct their rocket, the Astro-Egg Lander team had reassembled the YSS Eli Whitney, adding epoxy and stitching to the nose cone attachment to ensure it stayed put this time around. The team stood on the sideline, arms linked, waiting in anticipation as the moderator counted down for launch. The YSS Eli Whitney successfully launched from its pad, reached an altitude of 1599 feet, and deployed both its parachute and the lander– both of which reached the ground safely. Upon recovering the egg lander, the judges discovered that the egg was still intact. The YUAA Egg Lander team had just completed its first successful recovery in a competition event.

Although the Target Altitude team was still working to rebuild their original rocket, they began preparations to launch a second hybrid rocket they had brought along– the YSS Flying Bulldog. The team had never completed a test launch of the YSS Flying Bulldog prior to this competition. Not knowing what to expect, the entire team was ecstatic when the rocket launched and reached a staggering height of over 2400 feet. After a successful launch and a much needed morale boost, the team returned to constructing their substitute rocket. Using the same motor as the YSS Nathan Hale, their newly built creation, dubbed the YSS Frankenstein, was ready for its first launch. To everyone’s excitement, the rocket reached 197 feet and returned safely back to earth.

Although both teams had successful launches under their belts, both teams decided to try and better themselves by performing one final launch. The YSS Eli Whitney, reached an altitude of 1571 feet and once again safely recovered its egg. The YSS Frankenstein was also able to better its first flight, this time reaching an altitude of 229 feet. Both of YUAA’s teams, despite periodic tribulations, considered themselves to have had a successful first-time competition experience. These thoughts were confirmed when the Astro-Egg Lander team won first place in its competition. Not only did they win the competition, but are the first team in the competition’s history to have safely recovered an egg.

After a celebratory team dinner and restful night at the hotel, the YUAA members traveled eight hours back to the Yale Campus, still proud and elated by their successful weekend. After this experience, the members have already begun brainstorming new ideas and projects for next year. Not to be cliché, but considering the field – the sky really is the limit for the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association.

The YSS Eli Whitney launching to a record altitude of 1628 feet.
YUAA team members before they depart for Culpeper, Virginia for the ‘Battle of the Rockets’ competition.

YUAA Arrives in Culpeper, VA for Rocket Competition

Eight hours and seven states later, YUAA members have finally arrived in Culpeper, Virginia and are excited to discover how their rockets stack up against other teams’ projects from across the country.

Stay tuned tomorrow for updates of YUAA’s progress throughout the competition. It’s going to be a sunny 60 degrees tomorrow – perfect rocket launching weather. Wish our teams luck!

YUAA outside of Dunham Laboratory before they depart for Culpeper, Virginia.

YSS Eli Whitney Flies Again

March 30th marked the first successful deployment of the Astro-Egg Lander from the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association’s YSS Eli Whitney. The YSS Eli Whitney was successfully launched twice from Durham, Connecticut.

The launches involved deploying a two-pound Astro-Egg Lander – an aircraft which uses helicopter-like blades to carry an egg safely back to Earth. The lander successfully deployed at maximum altitude from within the YSS Eli Whitney and began a slow decent back to awaiting YUAA members. Unfortunately, the rotor head sheared apart several hundred feet above the ground and will require a redesign before YUAA’s competition this weekend. The launch is considered a success because it proves that the YSS Eli Whitney’s complex deployment system and the Astro-Egg Lander’s completely custom design are fully functional.

The team was unable to launch their second rocket, the YSS Nathan Hale, due to issues with the hybrid motor. The team, believing that it has resolved the issue, plans to conduct motor tests later this week and launch the YSS Nathan Hale at the competition this weekend.

YUAA Successfully Completes First Motor Test

On March 13th, several members of YUAA successfully performed their first test of the RATTworks H70 hybrid rocket motor. This motor will fly in The Flying Bulldog, our first high power rocket. The test went smoothly, and YUAA is looking forward to more successful tests and launches with this motor.

The H70 is a hybrid rocket motor that uses nitrous oxide (N2O) and polypropylene as fuel for combustion. The test stand was constructed of unistrut, and special mounts were made for the 29mm diameter H70 motor. The test stand was surrounded on three sides by polycarbonate to protect the team members from any unexpected events.

The test was controlled from a distance with a custom control box created by YUAA team members. A 1/8” tube connected to a solenoid valve provided denatured nitrous oxide directly to the motor. The burn time for this motor was nearly 3 seconds.

This test was performed in preparation for the upcoming launches where YUAA will be flying their rockets, The Flying Bulldog, YSS Nathan Hale, and YSS Eli Whitney. We look forward to future successes at these launches.

Check out a slow motion video of the motor test, and stay tuned for updates of our launch this Saturday!

Target Altitude and Astro-Egg Lander Teams Prepare for Launch

Our team has been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to prepare for the Battle of the Rockets competition at the start of April in Virginia. Despite our last few launch attempts’ being snowed out, we are looking forward to an upcoming launch this weekend, Saturday, March 16, in Durham, CT.

The team plans to launch The Flying Bulldog, the YSS Nathan Hale, and the as-of-yet unnamed third rocket that will carry the egg lander. Over the next week, our dedicated team members will be working hard to finalize all aspects of these rockets and to complete the design and testing of the various elements.

YUAA Reorganizes Project Teams

For the Spring 2013 semester, YUAA split its members into three distinct project teams. Two of the teams will be competing in the Battle of the Rockets competition at the beginning of April. One of these teams will be participating in the Target Altitude competition while the other will participate in the Astro-Egg Lander competition. The last team has been working on creating a Command Center — a modular electronics package that can be implemented into any of YUAA’s future aircraft.

The Astro-Egg Lander team is currently building a rocket and lander to carry an egg to 1,500 feet and bring it safely back in a controlled descent no faster than 30 feet per second — all without using a parachute.

The Target Altitude team is designing and developing a rocket to compete at the Federation of Galaxy Explorers rocketry competition at the start of April. They will be building a rocket to get as close as possible to an altitude of 1,700 feet and be successfully recovered. The team is currently designing and constructing a launch pad for the rockets. As well, they are in the process of creating SolidWorks designs of various parts of the rocket and are awaiting a nitrous oxide delivery to begin engine tests.

Meanwhile, the Command Center team has been busy working on the hardware setup and software development for the team’s new components. They have successfully used the cell module to send and receive text messages as well as make and answer calls. Concurrently, they are organizing the structure of the overall Command Center program. As they master the communication demands of each device, they will begin integrating them with the BeagleBone processor.

Stay tuned for future updates!

(The Astro-Egg Lander team discussing design strategies)