The purpose of this project is to provide experience towards the construction and design of rockets. The Rocket Competition team has built a rocket to compete at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) hosted by ESRA. The rocket will fly to approximately 10,000 feet and carry a payload capable of taking scientific measurements.
Most members of this team began the year with no rocketry experience, and many had no engineering experience at all; over the course of the project there was a focus on learning technical skills involved with rocket design and construction such as CAD, simulation software, and carbon fiber layups. Non-technical skills were also taught: documentation, trade studies, and factor of safety calculations. This project has provided members with hands-on experience with many useful skills that have direct applications in aerospace engineering, engineering as a whole, and working in teams.
On Saturday, November 9th, 2013 the Rocket Competition team launched Artemis, its prototype high-power composite rocket. The 6′ 7” rocket used a K740 motor to reach 4829 feet. The team used RockSim software to design the rocket. The airframe was constructed out of fiberglass and tubing. The three fins at the base of the body were laser cut out of 5/16” plywood, and the nose cone was purchased from LOC Precision. The rocket carried a payload consisting of a GoPro sandwiched between two wooden sheets and attached to a parachute via a shock cord. This payload was intended to test the rocket’s payload deployment system for use in the competition rocket later this year. Unfortunately the GoPro’s battery died before footage of the descent was recorded, but the payload deployment system worked as expected. Not only was this day the first rocket launch for many of the members, it was also an opportunity to see the products of their hard work.
Beginning after the Artemis launch, the team began brainstorming ideas for the experiment the payload of their competition rocket will perform. The team decided to create an environment suitable to house an atomic clock in a rocket to test the effects of relativity during the rocket’s ascent. During the flights at the competition, the team will collect data on the conditions of the payload to test if the environment is suitable for an atomic clock built for a laboratory.
The team is currently making final preparations for IREC before shipping Chronos out to Green River Utah where the competition will be held. These preparations included a successful ground test which occurred this past weekend. The ground test involved fooling the altimeter into thinking the rocket was at apogee in order to signal for the deployment of parachutes. Footage from the competition can be seen below!