Update 10/23/16 – T-t-t-test Staaaaand.

Hi all!

In addition to doing some pre-testing of our new position feedback on our control valves, we just moved our new vertical test stand into Akerman 15 this weekend! Thanks to Dan and Jame for doing such a great job on it. It took quite a bit of cleaning and rearranging to find a place to put it, but we finally got it there in the end.

Unfortunately, no pictures of the test stand (since I forgot the camera in Akerman – oops!), but I’ll make sure to get them uploaded as we begin to assemble the piping and plumbing onto the test stand.

In addition, it looks like it’s going to take longer than expected to make the necessary modifications to valves to run them automatically, so it looks like it’ll be tough to get in a firing with this test stand this semester.  We’ll keep everyone updated though, and hopefully we’ll have this thing up and running lickety split.

Subteam Spotlight: Flight

This past week, the flight subteam has been working on building two experimental rockets which we hope to launch in two weeks.  The first of these rockets is an asymmetric rocket design; it includes an additional nozzle that extends outward from one side of the rocket.  It’s purpose is to provide additional thrust to achieve greater launch speeds.  Although seemingly counterintuitive, this nozzle is located at the center of mass of the rocket, so it will not exert any torque and cause the rocket to rotate in flight.  

LPRD Rocketry asymmetric rocket fin mount

The purpose of the second rocket shown is to test an experimental roll control design.  If successful, we expect this to greatly increase the in flight stability of our rocket, and we could potentially use this design to achieve better flight stability for our main rocket.

LPRD Rocketry roll control avionics bay open


LPRD Rocketry roll control avionics bay


– Aaron Breidenbach, Flight Subteam Secretary

Member Spotlight: Ryan Ichinose

LPRD Rocketry's Ryan Ichinose

My name is Ryan Ichinose, but my baseball team has always called me “Ichi,” and I kind of like it. I think one of the biggest things to know about me is that I love pretty much anything that has anything to do with the sky; helicopters, airplanes, rockets, planets, moons, even the weather is a bit interesting. I definitely want to make a career out of the sky, I don’t really know how, hopefully either flying helicopters or engineering amazing flying things, but I think I’d be satisfied with a lot of different jobs, and who know where the wind will take me. . .

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Update 10/16/2016 – Featuring…Us!

Hi all,

Short update this week (no subteam spotlight or member spotlight), but we do have something we think is pretty exciting. Protolabs’s case study featuring us is now published and can be seen here! For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t been with us that long, Protolabs is the company that graciously 3D printed a regeneratively cooled rocket engine for us! It’s an incredibly cool (in both senses) part, and we’re incredibly grateful they were willing to donate their services to us.

LPRD Rocketry 3D Printed Rocket Engine

LPRD Rocketry member messing around with 3D printed rocket engine


In other news, we are still working on seeing if we can’t recover any video from the firing we just ran. While it would be quite the disappointment if we didn’t get any, we do have some other data which we will be analyzing and hopefully deriving information from.

In the mean time, our subteams are working hard on progressing towards the next problem. With any luck, we will begin testing out our new, bigger engine and test stand in the coming weeks in preparation to run a firing with Orbital ATK to test out our new, 1000 newton engine. Regardless of whether we retrieve the video, the knowledge we gained on igniting the engine will carry over and help make the firing of this next engine all the more successful!

-David Deng

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Update 10/9/16 – Maybe not fire fire fire

Hi all,

Unfortunately some bad news: there’s a possibility the majority of the footage from the firing last week did not get recorded. We’re still looking through to make sure we don’t overlook anything, but there might be lack of video footage from the event, which would be very unfortunate.

LPRD Rocketry Mk1 mark one test stand firing setup with video camera

Pictured: camera from which we may or may not have video footage

However, the firing as a whole went relatively well, but we did run into a few issues.

Glenn Smith of LPRD Rocketry troubleshooting avionics and sensors during engine firing

Pictured: (not) defeated by said issue

Instead of writing it, I’ll let you read directly from the people themselves. Below is a reflection from Glen:

The test was an overall success. Setup was performed in a timely manner, even with some hiccups in the sensors. During tests, procedures were followed very well and no small parts were lost in the process. Tests were performed with purpose and intent, and observational data was recorded to ensure a thoughtful analysis.

Full Report for Sensors Mishap:

The sensors were prepared and the program opened and ran without being attached. The cable was hooked up to the computer, but the USB device was not recognized and no data was received.

The device was un-plugged and plugged back in several times to ensure no hookup failure. The computer was then brought to where the two cables connected in between the operating room and the test stand and plugged in there. Data was received and the sensors were calibrated. Computer was brought back into the control room and the full length of cable gave the same error as before. The cable order was then switched, which did not solve the problem. The computer was then attached at the closer cable, which then still gave the error. The other cable was used in its place and the data was then received.

One of the cables was defective in transferring the data to the computer. The cable was marked as broken and not used during the test.

The other cable was used during the test, attached to the computer which was stationed outside of the operating room. A camera was stationed to monitor the computer. The data was turned on at T-3min during the area clearing stage of the test. An auxiliary countdown clock was used in its place. Data was stored after the 5 minute wait period of the test was over.

And a summary of the firings themselves from Vadim:

Test #1:
No ignition
Cotton ball was shredded and the ignition wires were ripped from their soldering connections. Possibly due to cold/ poor soldering.
From observation, the cotton ball was not ignited and the nichrome wire did not change color which most likely means that the disconnection occurred prior to ignition.
Inside of the engine looked nominal
Test #2
No ignition
The igniter was thrown out of the engine
No burn signs on the cotton ball as well as no change in color of the nichrome wire. Most likely the leads were disconnected before the ignition
Note: Glen and few other people confirmed seeing a sign of fire at the end of the jet flume.
No apparent leaks or damage to the engine itself.
Test #3
Successful ignition and engine burn!!! Yay!!!
We used an e-match this time and ignition worked perfectly compared to the cotton ball igniter
Temperature rose to about 20ish degrees and the thrust output was at about 60 Newtons
More charing on the inside of the combustion chamber and on the injector.
No damage to the engine nor o-ring
No apparent leakage signs
Char built-up at the throat
Fluid had color to it during depressurisation process
Engine burned was stopped prematurely
Igniter was not burned at all
Test #4
Successful ignition and burn of the engine
Thrust output reached 100 N
Igniter leads were not burned
Somewhere in the middle of the engine burn, the flame length decreased and the burn oscillation became significantly noticeable
No leaks have been observed nor any damage to the engine
Same amount of char built up as in the previous firing
The hook on the injector was broken/melted off( might be a reason to the change in the burn characteristics).
Char built up on the injector
During the depressurisation the fluid appeared to be clear
Igniter was slightly burned
Test #5
Successful ignition
Combustion occurred outside of the combustion chamber (flame thrower)
Engine burn was stopped prematurely
Surrounding was burned in small amount
No leaks have been detected
Charring of the injector and the combustion chamber(most likely from previous burn)
The throat appeared melted. The circular diameter of the throat slightly deformed.
Fluid during depressurisation appeared to be clear.

If you want to read all the reflections from the day, feel free to follow this link to the report.

Member Spotlight: Pierre Abillama

Pierre Abillama of LPRD Rocketry

My name is Pierre Abillama and I’m a freshman hoping to major in Computer Engineering. I joined LPRD Rocketry because I’ve been doing some programming for quite some time, but I think LPRD will give me the exposure to hardware and circuits that I’m missing. I enjoy the sense of commitment everyone has to the project and hope to be a part of it. I like to play rock music on my guitar and listen to music, I’m part of the UMN Shotokan Karate Club and I regularly attend Science & Engineering Student Board meetings.

Pierre Abillama the guitarist of LPRD Rocketry

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Update 10/2/16 – Fire Fire Fire Fire

Hi all!

Just got back from a relatively successful day of test firing!

Test location for LPRD rocketry independent engine firings

We’re still in the process of getting all the footage back and processing it, so this will have to be just a little bit of a teaser before the details start flowing in over the next couple weeks!

Subteam Spotlight: Avionics

After a few weeks of calibration given that we had a few new members join us for Fall, we are back in action and have resumed work. Our latest development has been the MK2 test stand which is close to being done as far as machining goes and hence the task has come down to us now to finish the electrical systems and the electronics that facilitate running the engine. We have had a huge order from digikey come in with all the parts that we need to build the electrical system. Here’s the fun stuff:

LPRD Rocketry avionics digi-key order part 1

LPRd Rocketry digi-key order part 2

Aside from the new additions, we are still on task for improving our ignition system for which we are trying out different igniters in a test firing that is coming up on Sunday. Here’s Glen getting all the setup ready for the test:

Glen setting up for test of LPRD rocketry telemetry monitor

Our main goal for this semester is to be able to automate the whole test stand so as to be able to run it from ignition to flame out with the press of a single button. We have started working on this just this week, so check us out again after a few weeks for more updates.

Gaurav Manda

Member Spotlight: Jonathan Liberman

Jonathan Liberman of LPRD Rocketry

I’m Jonathan Liberman, lead for the Nitrous Subteam, and a second year student going into Aerospace Engineering.  Rocketry has always been a passion of mine, so I was quite excited when I was invited to join LPRD.  I was previously involved with a freshman-only team formed for the Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition, and LPRD was the perfect project for a step up in rocketry.  After I graduate, I would like to find a job working on a rocket system and hopefully build a career on developing spacecraft propulsion.

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Update 9/25/16 – Ready Up!

Hi all,

Some big news: we’re planning on doing an engine firing on our own next week! In preparation for that, this week, we spent some time doing some flow tests to help better characterize the timings on our test stand.

LPRD Rocketry flow rate testing

During our last attempt at firing on our own, we realized that the timings for when propellant reached the engine was not quite accurate, since the last time we did tests to characterize it was back in summer 2015 before all the extensive modifications we made to the test stand.

With this new data, we’re in a good place to move forward with confidence that oxygen and kerosene are reaching the combustion chamber at the times we think they are!

Subteam Spotlight: Nitrous

With a new year comes a new subteam.  The Nitrous subteam is the newest part of LPRD, and this semester we will be focusing on enabling the existing Mk1 test stand to handle and deliver nitrous oxide instead of gaseous oxygen.  In addition, we will be designing a Mk1-sized engine to run on nitrous and kerosene.  One of the major issues caused by running on gaseous oxygen, especially for flight, is the low oxidizer density.  This requires larger tanks to hold enough oxidizer for a full burn.  Nitrous oxide can be stored as a liquid, however, which is why nitrous was formed.  Liquid nitrous oxide has a significantly higher oxidizer density that gaseous oxygen, so a rocket fueled by it should have much better performance.  So far this year, we have gotten the team up and off the ground.  We have a total of four members now, and we are working on the preliminary design for converting the Mk1 test stand.

Jonathan Liberman – Nitrous Subteam Lead


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Update 9/18/2016 – All Around Me are (Un)Familliar Faces

Hi all!

LPRD Rocketry welcomed in several new faces this Saturday at our general meeting, and we certainly hope to see them around throughout the semester. As part of the general meeting, we introduced the 3D printed engine to some flow rate testing, and this continued on into the work day. The idea was to try to characterize the loss coefficient through the coolant channel of the 3D printed engine.

LPRD Rocketry Members pouring water in for flow test of 3D printed engine

Unfortunately, as we progressed, we realized something was causing an increasingly bad blockage, most likely in our filter, so we were unable to get the quantitative information we hoped we would. However, we did discover some interesting phenomena which might affect our operations later. Specifically, the pressure loss across the channels is insignificant compared to the pressure loss across the filter, even when not blocked. Additionally, once the fluid passing through the filter gives way from viscous liquid to gas, a sudden increase in flow occurs. We’ll hopefully be working through these and seeing how it affects our engine with some more testing in the upcoming weeks.

Subteam Spotlight: Ground-Ops (Previously “Launch”)

The Ground Operations Team has been hard at work over the course of the summer and the beginnings of Fall Semester working on our Mark 2 Test stand. This test stand will allow us to test our Mark 2 engines, which are designed to produce a thrust of 1000N (10 times the thrust produced by our Mark 1 engine). We’ve finished the structural assembly and are beginning to move on to our piping and plumbing.

LPRD Rocketry Vertical Test Stand

LPRD Rocketry Vertical Test Stand Skeleton

In addition, we’re starting to move towards operations. We will be scheduling more firing on our own tests, and we’ll be attempting to hold cold tests more frequently too. Thanks for following us as the semester starts to build up. We’re excited to continue with LPRD Rocketry and to begin a new phase of testing with the Ground Operations team!

-Vaughn Weirens

Member Spotlight: Vadim Stavitskiy

LPRD Rocketry Member Vadim Stavitskiy

My name is Vadim P. Stavitskiy.  This is my fourth year going to college. I am pursuing Aerospace Engineering degree and minoring in Physics. This is my second semester at LPRD Rocketry. I am currently a member of a Flight as well as Engine Sub-teams. I have always enjoyed a notion of space and when I heard of an opportunity of joining a Rocketry Club, I took that chance without a second thought.  During my free time, I like to either read a good book, listen to music, or walk in the park.  After I will get my degree, I am hoping to get employed at an aerospace company and help our nation to advance in human space exploration as well as making it easier and less expensive to get things into space.

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Update 9/11/2016 – Welcome Back!

Hey all!

Welcome back to LPRD Rocketry! We’re returning regular updates, so hold on to your seats! We are up and running again, and had our first general meeting of the school year! Heavy recruitment next week, so we’ll be busy bringing new people into the cult of liquid propellants!

Gaurav and Glen Recruiting people for LPRD Rocketry

I just want someone to look at me the way Gaurav looks at Glen

This semester, we’re adding a new segment to our general meetings – an engineering activity where we help a subteam solve their problems or test something out. This week, we looked at match-based e-matches for Avionics and Engine subteams, just to give them the feel of another potential ignition type.

LPRD Rocketry members construct homemade ematches

Lighting them off…

Lee Gaurav and Glen of LPRD Rocketry test homemade e-matches

And participating in rap battles.

LPRD Rocketry members gather around for rap battle

In any case, we hope to gather some new people and delve into a new year of rocketry. Hope to see you along for the ride!

David Deng

Subteam Spotlight – Flight

Flight team has been quite busy over the summer; before we start on some big plans it would be good to recap what has lead up to this point.

Our asymmetric thrust testing hit a high point in June, when we launched our mid-power asymmetric rocket. The plan was to scale up our design until we are confident that the thrust to weight ratio will be enough to get the rocket off the rail. (for more details on that, click here.

LPRD Rocketry mid=power asymmetric thrust rocket post crash

Overall, the test went pretty well. Our off-axis motor was able to get the rocket off the rail and then some. This test did not come without some hiccups though. The main on-axis motor did not ignite due to some wiring issues, and our recovery system failed due to human error of not knowing the proper signals from our device, which was trying to tell us that it was not wired properly.

However, since the off-axis motor was able to propel the rocket off the rail, we are confident that we can move forward to our high powered asymmetric thrust rocket, codenamed Cerberus, which we will be building and launching in the coming months. First at a higher thrust-weight ratio with I and J motor sizes, and then at a lower thrust-weight ratio with G and H motor sizes to better simulate the conditions that our liquid engine will provide.

Open Rocket design for LPRD Rocketry High Power Asymmetric Thrust Rocket

Another project that has been progressing over the summer has been a roll stabilizing system, as well as a new avionics bay to hold more equipment. Once it is finished, it will be used to prevent our rocket from spinning on its axis.

Bay for LPRD Rocketry roll control rocket

With new members joining us in the next few weeks, we’ll have more manpower to get things done, as well as a stronger community. A lot of exciting things will be happening in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Member Spotlight: Lee Thompson IV

LPRD Rocketry's Lee Thompson in Key West

My name is Lee Thompson IV and this is my 5th and final year as an undergraduate. I began my college career as a dual degree student studying Physics and Aerospace Engineering. After completing 3 years of Physics coursework at University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire, I transferred to University of Minnesota: Twin Cities to complete the program with Aerospace Engineering. I’ve always had an interest in rockets and space exploration so LPRD Rocketry seemed like a great group for me. I quickly settled into the engine subteam and this year I’m leading it! When I’m not attempting rocket science, I enjoy snorkeling. I’ve gone on a few trips off the shores of the Florida Keys. One time I even pet a jellyfish! After I graduate, I hope to work in the private sector of aerospace with the goal of increasing our access to space. Someday I’d like to see rocket launches become as routine as commercial airliner flights.

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Update 7/10/2016 – Wibbly Wobbly Asymmetric Flights

Hi all,

Mid-summer rocketry update for those of you with nothing better to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon!

The blog has been quiet, but LPRD Rocketry has not been asleep! We’ve been busy bees, with more than ten of our team still working through the summer pushing our way towards flying a liquid propellant rocket engine. We have a couple of events coming up, starting with a firing on our own next weekend! For the first time ever, we will be attempting to light the engine without the guiding hand of OrbitalATK. Fingers crossed! (Though of course we’re doing much more than just crossing our fingers in preparation and practice)

LPRD Rocketry planned test location rock creek for liqiud propellant rocket engines

A bit of a step down from the concrete bunker, but we’ll take it

As for things we’ve already accomplished this summer, as you know, one of the biggest and most experimental designs we’re considering implementing is what we call an “asymmetric thrust rocket” with one motor pointed down the axis and a second motor higher up the body pointed through the center of gravity at an angle.

Assembling of LPRD Rocketry experimental asymmetric thrust rocket

Well, it’s real, and it’s flown. Ish. Note that the high final angle was due to heavy winds combined with our off-axis thrust and a misapplication of center of gravity.

Unfortunately, we had some issues in discipline getting things 100% done ahead of time, and this led to a last minute rush which caused a mistake leading in the partial loss of our rocket due to an improperly wired parachute ejection charge.

LPRD Rocketry experimental asymmetric thrust rocket failed after hard landing

In addition, only one of the motors lit, so we had an unexpected flight, but we still managed to prove the concept. I’ll let you read the notes from the guys at the launch about what caused the failure. We will learn from these mistakes and move on to become better, safer, and more efficient.

Launch Objectives:

The purpose of this launch was to test out an asymmetrically aligned motor as opposed to the traditional vertical motor. For this, we used an F70. As for the normal vertical motor, we used a G33. The objective was to have both of the motors ignite simultaneously.

Launch Parameters:

We arrived on scene with the intention of preparing for launch on site. Chief problem was the avionics bay. The ejection charge was not prepared and the avbay was suffering problems. Due to a foreplanning problem and misunderstanding, launch lugs had to be epoxied on day of. The avionics bay was impossible to secure to the rocket and apply an air hole to, due to the difficulty of inserting the avbay, aligning the avbay to the rocket, and interacting with the avbay in the rocket. There was no room in the avbay to attach rivets to or drill holes in.

There was no good way to turn on the avbay on the rod. There was a switch, but due to lack of internal support in the avbay, the switch could only be turned on before inserting the avbay into the rocket. We replaced the switch then with a long pair of wires, that we would cross & tie outside the wires together to provide power to the rocket.

Weight should have been added to the rocket to center CG at the asymmetric motor, but it was a bit low. The fins needed to be cut to raise the CP to not be over stable. The net effect of not cutting the fins & not adding weight kept the rocket in a good range of stability, ~2. It was very windy. Very very windy. The bourbon sloppy joe was very good. On the stand, the altimeter repeatedly beeped 4 or 5 times.


Only one motor(asymmetric) ignited limiting the rocket’s maximum projected height to a couple of hundred feet. It was over stable and headed directly into the wind. After faltering initially, the rocket aligned itself with an angle of about 30 degrees to the vertical. The estimated burn time is about 1.5 seconds after which the rocket drifted off in a parabolic projectile. The parachute did not eject.

Cause of Failure:

There were two failures: failure to ignite lower motor on stand and failure to eject parachute.
While application, insertion, and connection of the igniters to the battery wires and to the motors are ripe for user error, the igniter failed to ignite on the motor. The igniter was securely connected to the battery by Dan, but it did not light.

The 4 or 5 beeps the altimeter was giving was actually code for ejection charge discontinuity. Due to ignorance of the meaning of those beeps and the necessity of firing due to a highly delayed schedule, we launched anyway thinking all was well.

Other Concerns/things to be addressed:

There was only one person working on the rocket and the rocket was initially half done and so had very little room to be worked around. Because there was only one person working on it, we ended up not considering a few items (launch lugs for instance) which resulted in delays at and before the launch. The design of the rocket, particularly the small 1.5” diameter, was not appropriate for the application, and that original design characteristic consumed many many many hours of time.

One more slight obstacle to get over, but we’re very very happy with the performance of the design. Even with the poor conditions, misconstructed rocket (due to lack of time), and lighting of only one motor, the rocket ended up with less than a 45 degree flight path. With corrections, we can surely reduce this and hope to drop it under 15 degrees with our next attempt. We’ll see how it goes. Hope to see you there with us!

David Deng

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Update 5/1/2016 – Rocketcam

Hi all!

Welcome back to the penultimate update from LPRD Rocketry prior to the beginning of summer! Finals starts next week, so we’ll be taking a break. During the summer, we haven’t quite decided whether to keep up updates. If anyone has an opinion, please let us know down in the comments or via email.

This week will also be a short update: just a little bit of video we want to share with you. We recovered a little bit of on-board footage from our rocket, but it looks like the second flight was corrupted.

If we don’t see you again until next Fall, then have a good summer! Otherwise, see you in a couple weeks! We’ll have some high speed footage from OrbitalATK to share.

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Update 4/24/2016 – It’s all about the telemetry

Hi all,

We flew our testbed rocket another couple times this week with TripoliMN at their launch on the 23rd up in North Branch. This time around during the flights, we were testing our telemetry capabilities. By the way: I’d like to thank Gary Stroick for letting us fly under his certification and letting us call “his” rocket the “Happy Puppy.”

We found some interesting issues with corrupted data packets, but we can see a path to fix all of the issues we found, so good news! In our avionics bay, we flew both an Arduino (which was sending back accelerometer data via Xbees) and a Raspberry Pi (collecting many other data including video, but storing them on-board in an SD card). We have the some of the data, but are still processing most of it. Look for that next week, if you’re interested. We’ll also post on-board video (or a failure of on-board video) taken from the rocket.

LPRD rocketry members walking back after loading rocket onto launch rail

’bout to drop the hottest mixtape of 2016

There’s something about the combination of Alex’s sunglasses, Ginny’s crossed arms and wind-blown hair, Matias’s intense stare down at the ground, Dan’s coveralls, and that random guy’s hat and suspenders that makes this look like it was pulled straight out of an action film or a post-apocalyptic…

Subteam Spotlight: Engine

Engine team has been busy these past several weeks. The knowledge that we can successfully fire a liquid propellant rocket engine has been incredibly freeing. With that confidence, we can experiment with different injectors, different nozzles, etc.

We began working on impinging stream injectors a while ago, but Lee has designed a test rig which will let us test many parameters very efficiently. We’ve ordered the parts and should be building shortly. We’re also working on increasing the evenness of oxygen distribution in our chamber, but we made a few mistakes when meshing our simulation, so we haven’t quite come to a conclusion yet.

With some hard work and a little luck, we plan to have several injectors of both Mk 1 and Mk 2 size CADed and ready to machine over the summer.

The Material Advantage student group is still working on our ceramic rocket engine. They’re still running into an issue with the slip-casting manufacturing method, but appear to be well on their way to figuring it out.

David Deng

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