What is the overall goal of your project?

Incorporate rocket science research into the ‘design/build/test/fly’ multi-year sequence of the Sounding Rocketry Team (SRT). The long-term objective/challenge of the project is to design/build/test/fly a 1,500-pound thrust rocket system, capable of multiple restarts/ignitions.

Which grand challenge are you addressing?

‘Commercial/private space’ is the new paradigm of access to space utilizing local, agile industries and companies that can operate on the timescale of months/years as opposed to decades. The topic lies in the nexus of different grand challenges, from national defense to transportation and infrastructure. 

What is the key challenge your project is trying to solve?

The long-term objective/challenge of the project is to design/build/test/fly a 1,500-pound thrust rocket system, capable of multiple restarts/ignitions. Current SRT capabilities have reached a 600-pound thrust limit, with a single ignition event. Reaching the stated goals would allow SRT to be a ‘competitor’ in actual commercial missions, on-earth as well as in-space. The state-of-the art research that will allow this to happen is related to propulsion/combustion, but also rocket dynamics/aerodynamics and controls. SRT has build over the years the capability to design and build hybrid rocket engines, and also test them in a fully instrumented vertical test stand and launch the integrated rocket system. Research in fuel grain formulation, with parallel testing on a rocket stand, and actual launch of the resulting engine will be the first research challenge; Restartable ignition using solid propellants and/or hyperbolic is the second challenge; The behavior of both ignition and combustion will be quantified in tests, and the results will be incorporated into an existing hybrid-engine model, and then to an overarching rocket simulation code that SRT is developing.       

What is the impact on society your project has?

The SRT Aggie Challenge will prepare engineers that are ready to function in the new private space field with a broad appreciation of the many diverse issues associated with rocket launch systems. The project will inject some of the proverbial “Rocket Science” back into the curriculum, which today is producing excellent “Rocket Engineers”.  

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Adonios Karpetis

Targeted Engineering Majors: Aerospace, Mechanical, Industrial, Electrical, Chemical, Computer Science