Happy Valentines Day! Unfortunately, this time around, we don’t have any CAD valentine hearts like we did last year.
What we do have is a big update and a ton of news. Our meeting with OrbitalATK this week went well, and we’ve tentatively planned a test firing sometime during the University of Minnesota’s spring break, or approximately the week of March 14th.
We have a ton to do to get ready. We’ll be creating and testing some novel new igniters involving nichrome wire, cotton balls, and kerosene. Hopefully that’ll happen either this Saturday or next. With any luck, fire will happen in a very controlled manner. Its slightly different from the igniters we were planning on way back last year, but the same general concept.
This Saturday, we’ll also be running some flow rate tests on our injector. We caught some mistakes earlier on with the injector hole sizing, but that should be fixed now. We just want to confirm.
In addition, we’ll be switching over our test stand so that it can measure force, something critical to figuring out just how successful our rocket engine is. We’ll probably be doing that next Monday evening and Tuesday morning, and hopefully testing it out the Saturday after (February 27).
After that, we’ll hold a dress rehearsal on the 5th of March, a Test Readiness Review on the 6th, and be ready to go for the week after. Fingers crossed! This will be the first time we ever throttle our engine up to 100%. With any luck, we’ll also have a ceramic rocket engine to fire courtesy of a materials science student group here on campus.
Subteam Spotlight: Flight
I think it’s about time to introduce the newest subteam of the bunch: the flight subteam.
These guys are working on learning the skills needed to eventually build our very own liquid propellant rocket engine. Of all the subteams, these guys are probably working with the most ambitious goal and the one furthest in the future. The above picture was taking during winter break, when they made their very first high power model rocket out of a kit (Madcow Torrent, it’s called). It’ll be used to eventually test the electronics the Avionics subteam is developing.
Now that it’s mostly complete, we’re working on taking a look at an asymmetric thrust rocket engine, starting with some basic calculations and simulation before moving on to some prototyping with small kit rockets.
The big issue that the flight subteam is dealing with is the relatively low thrust to weight ratio that our liquid propellant engine can obtain. Because we don’t have the avionics to guide the thing, we need to get it off the launch pad at a fast enough speed that aerodynamic forces keep it flying in an upward direction, but that means we need additional thrust. Originally, we were thinking about using staging (with a very powerful solid first stage) or clustering solid boosters, but both of those have issues.
The basic idea: we want to see if we can fly a rocket that is composed of only one liquid propellant engine and one solid booster. In theory, this will let us avoid the troubles of both staging and clustering. With only one solid, we don’t have to worry about them igniting at different times. With only one stage, we don’t have to worry about starting an engine in the air while it’s flying.
Member Spotlight: Guarav Manda
My name is Gaurav Manda and I’m a sophomore in Electrical Engineering. I joined LPRD so I could get some hands on experience on various sensors and electronics. Apart from LPRD I’m part of the IEEE student group and I’ve also recently joined the UMN HASP(High altitude Student Payload) team and I’m hoping to be able to help out with some of their electronic systems and hardware. Space research has been of interest to me ever since I was in middle school. This has stemmed from reading books written by authors including Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku and Carl Sagan. As an EE, my goal is to improve communication systems on spacecrafts to facilitate safer and more efficient space travel. This being my interest, my focus would be on wireless communication and RF.
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