Hope you had a fantastic Spring Break, those of you at the University of Minnesota. LPRD Rocketry was definitely very busy during the break, as you can see below!
We have some very low quality video, but that still needs processing and we’re waiting for the high speed footage to arrive, so no videos yet. Due to policy, we are not allowed to take our own media at the testing site, but Orbital ATK’s technicians certainly took a bunch and will be sending them on their way. Look forward to those on the next blog update though! We know. We’re such a tease.
The ceramic rocket engine was unfortunately not prepared in time due to some unexpected manufacturing complications, but we had a successful firing of our first generation engine nonetheless.
This marks a big step in the development of LPRD Rocketry from “those crazy kids down the street” into “proven manufacturer and operator of liquid propellant rocket engines”, which is an amazing thing to be able to claim. We definitely want to thank Orbital ATK’s TPG proving grounds for their help providing a safe location from which we could run these things.
This is exciting stuff, and I’m glad you’re here to experience it with us! This week on Saturday, we will also be launching our own (solid propellant) high powered rocket for the first time to trial some avionics/telemetry components. Wish us luck!
Subteam Spotlight: Flight
The flight subteam’s work so far has been in two different areas. First, constructing a high powered solid rocket which will serve as a testbed for our avionics. This rocket is almost ready to go and will be flying (and with any luck, landing) on March 26th. This will let us develop our capabilities flying simple, COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) rockets and test out the avionics which we will eventually use on our liquid propellant rocket. Glen is currently putting the finishing touches on the rocket, and we’ll soon be ready to go. Videos to follow (we hope).
The second area is slightly more interesting. If you remember from the post five or six weeks ago, we’re experimenting with an “asymmetric thrust” configuration for our rocket engine. Sam Lijo and Vadim Stavitsky (a new member) have been working hard trying to design a passively stable rocket which still allows us to have differing magnitudes of thrust for different durations from two different engines.
Member Spotlight: Lucas Kramer
My name is Lucas Kramer, and I am a first-year graduate student in Computer Science. My primary research interests are in programming languages and AI, but I am also interested in embedded systems and some electronics. I have a strong interest in spaceflight and rockets, and I am considering working for an aerospace company eventually.
I joined LPRD to get hands-on experience with a project like this that will be greatly helpful in industry someday. This project also lines up almost exactly with my interests – I had previously considered attempting building a small liquid fueled rocket engine myself, but lacked the resources. I have also previously been involved in the UMN solar vehicle project, as well as the MnSGC High-Altitude Ballooning team, where I gained valuable skills in electronics design and embedded software development.
One interesting fact about me is that I am 16! I was homeschooled and attended college early through PSEO, allowing me to graduate last fall. I am now starting the Ph.D program in CSCI this year.
Someone who has been a major inspiration for me is Elon Musk. He has shown that you really can become an expert in any area, even if everyone else thinks you are crazy, and that the solution to a challenging problem might be hiding in plain sight. Also, keep going when things are hard! His companies have also given me hope for the future of humanity, and really got me excited for things like space travel. I would gladly go to mars someday if that is an option! One of my dreams is to work toward this goal.