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Advanced Rocketry News
January-October 2005

Aerospike engine test by CSULB and Garvey
Cal State U. at Long Beach - Aerospace Engineering
Succesful firing on June 23, 2003 of a liquid fueled aerospike engine
built by students at Cal. State University at Long Beach Aerospace
in collaboration with Garvey Spacecraft.

Articles here describe news and developments in advanced amateur and student rocketry, experimental rocketry, and innovations at small entrepreneurial rocket companies.

See the Advanced Rocketry section for links and resources in these areas and be sure to check out the Records, Achievments & Competitions section.

The RLV News section also overlaps with this section, especially with regard to the X PRIZE competition. See RLV Countdown for links to suborbital and X PRIZE projects by small organizations.

December 15 , 2005

News briefs ... The Sugar Shot to Space team will soon attempt to launch an amateur rocket to 100km using a sugar based solid propellant. See also SS2S, or "how to get to space on 885 lbs of candy" - Dick's Rocket Dungeon - Dec.14.05 ...

... The Amateur Spaceflight Association, a Houston based advanced rocketry group, wants to develop an engine test facility at the proposed Gulf Coast Regional Spaceport (GCRS) in Brazoria County, Texas: ASA Proposes a Rocket Motor Test Firing to the Gulf Coast Regional Spaceport - ASA - June.23.05. See also Spaceport could see rocket test launch - thefacts.com [Brazoria County, TX] - Dec.15.05

November 22, 2005

News briefs ... Steve Harrington reports on the latest developments with Flometrics and the San Diego State Univ. Rocket program (Nov.11):

More Pistonless Rocket Pump Testing:
The local TV news came over last week and we set up the pump with liquid nitrogen at 400 psi and 12 GPM and demonstrated it for them: http://www.fox6.com/video/ (they named the segment "Space Travel") A usual with TV news they tend to simplify things, but at least I got the message across that the pump will make rocket vehicles safer and more affordable. The pump worked great for the camera, but we scared them a bit when one of the regulators stuck open and vented through the relief valve. Doug and Bruce replaced it in about 4 minutes, and we continued with the test.

If you don't want to watch the news broadcast, you can see a short video at:
http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/%7esharring/ln2pumpFOX.mpg and find the a graph of the data at: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/%7esharring/pumping_liquid_NitrogenFOX.pdf

Also, I was briefly on the Mythbusters show on Discovery in October in an episode entitled "Confederate Rocket" which includes some historical solid and liquid/hybrid rockets that they built and launched. The exciting part is when they test a nitrous hybrid inside their shop and almost burn it down.

Student Rocket Project:
The students took their rocket mockup to the Miramar Airshow and made a number of contacts, but they are still trying to raise funds to finish it. www.sdsurocket.org

... The French Perseus project is a student experimental rocketry project patterned after the California projects like the SDSU and CSLB projects:

October 20, 2005

News brief ... Steve Harrington reports on the latest developments with Flometrics and the San Diego State Univ. Rocket program:

Rocket Pump test and Student Rocket Update for September/October

Our first patent was allowed, so all we have to do now is pay the fees and it will be awarded. We filed a continuation-in-part patent application to tie up some loose ends in the first one.

Cryo Test:
We set up the pump for high pressure liquid nitrogen and it pumped 13 gpm at up to 420 psi. A video can be seen at
http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~sharring/LN2_Test2.mpg (3 MB)
We have come up with some ways to get around the problems that crop up while pumping cryogenic fluids and they are the subject of the patent application that we filed in May.

We also tested a full scale flow visualization model of a pump chamber for a 30,000 lbf thrust LOX/RP engine. The gas venting and pressurization steps can be modeled accurately, the only hard part to model is the filling process. Here is a sequence of a 16 inch (9 gal) pump chamber that fills up in 2 seconds at 2.6 psi input pressure.
The baffle system is not yet optimized and the input pressure is low so ~1 second fill times are achievable. A flightweight version of the pump would weigh about 58 lb, so it can pump its weight in LOX in ~1 second.

We will be pumping Margaritas with the demo pump at the Space Frontier Foundation conference in Los Angeles.
Come by the LAX Sheraton on Saturday October 22 after 6 pm. Our Margarita pump at the AIAA Space 2005 Conference was quite a success, we pumped 9 gallons of Margaritas and attracted quite a crowd.

New pump for SDSU:
We are building a pump for the SDSU rocket now. It is designed to pump LOX or jet fuel at up to 23 GPM at up to 500 psi.

The students are building two rockets, one for the new students which is not too sophisticated, and the seniors are working on a rocket designed to reach an altitude of 100 miles which will use the pump that we are building now. If you can help the students with stainless ball valves, AN fittings, aluminum etc. contact them at

Steve Harrington Ph. D
President, Flometrics, Inc.

October 3 , 2005

News brief ... Erik Bengtsoon in Sweden who is developing a company to provide H2O2 for rocketry: PeroxidePropulsion.com.

August 30, 2005

News briefs ... This article reports on a meeting in Britain for advanced rocketry participants: Rocket man is alive and well - in Largs - Sunday Times - Aug.28.05 ...

... Steve Harington reports on the latest from Flometrics and from the SDSU rocket project:

We are answering the two remaining technical questions [on the pistonless pump] that industry professionals are still concerned about,
"Can it pump LOX at high pressure?"
"How does it scale up?"

Cryo Test:
We set up the pump for high pressure liquid nitrogen and it pumped 13 gpm at 300 psi. The pump performance is as expected, based on our mathematical model. We will continue our test protocol, increasing flow and pressure and we will post data and video by the end of next week.

Software and Hardware Updates:
We also have updated the pump control software so that it can continue to pump regardless of sensor failures. Intentional failures have been inserted and nominal operation has continued. The pump has also been fitted with different inlet valves for steadier output pressure.

We also have started to build a full scale flow visualization model of a pump chamber for a 30,000 lbf thrust LOX/RP engine. (16 in diameter pump chamber, 90 lb/s) This will be used to show how the pump scales up from our 6 inch demo pump.

We will be pumping Margaritas with the demo pump at the AIAA Space 2005 conference in Long beach. Come by booth 231 on Tuesday August 30 after 5 pm. Our Margarita pump at the Joint Propulsion Conference was quite a success, we pumped 7 gallons of Margaritas and by the end of the show, everyone had heard about us. www.rocketfuelpump.com

The students have some matching funds, so if anyone wants to sponsor the SDSU rocket project, your funds will be matched 100% up to $15,000. This would be a good opportunity for aerospace companies to insure that they will be able to hire experienced rocket propulsion engineers right out of college, saving considerable time and expense in training and funding the creation of a cadre of engineers who are not scared to move beyond PowerPoint engineering and blow stuff up. Considering that it will cost about $50-$100K to train a new aerospace engineer, and sponsors will have access to the future engineers, this is a recruiting bargain. Contact the students at: www.sdsurocket.org.

June 29, 2005

News briefs ... John Garvey reports that the "Prospector 6 (P-6) refurbishment is well underway" and that "the upgraded vehicle is now designated Prospector 6A (P-6A)". The P-6A will be ready for operations "in the near future." In addition, they hope to begin flight testing the "entirely new Prospector 7 (P-7)" this Fall. ...

... The San Diego State University rocketry group, which cooperates with Flometrics, has opened a newly redesigned SDSU Rocket website with lots of photos and videos. See, for example, the page about the Delta Phoenix Launch on May 21, 2005.

June 8, 2005

SDSU/Flometrics launch report... The large Delta-Phoenix rocket by the SDSU and Flometrics team was recently launched from the Mojave:

Delta-Phoenix Rocket Project

On Saturday, May 21, 2005, the San Diego State University student rocket project launched the Delta-Phoenix, a 1000 lbf. thrust liquid bi-propellant rocket, in the Mojave desert. The launch proved to be spectacular and dramatic. Some preliminary videos and pictures are posted on the SDSU Rocket Project website. The SDSU rocket project website is in the process of being updated so periodically check back.

The rocket is based on the LR-101 motor used on the Atlas rocket for attitude control. It is a regenerative cooled engine, which means the fuel is circulated around the motor casing to cool it. The LR-101 burns liquid oxygen (LOX) as its oxidizer and aviation kerosene (Jet-A) as its fuel. ... continue to the SDSU Delta-Phoenix web page...

May 26, 2005

More launch news ... Leonard David reports on the GarveySpacecraft/Cal State Long Beach Prospector 6 launch: High Hopes for Low-Cost Rocket After Successful Launch Test - Space.com - May.26.05.

The CSULB site has more photos and videos, including a cool onboard view. See also the photos on the GarveySpacecraft homepage. ...

... There is a picture of the Flometrics/SDSU launch on the SDSU Rocket page with the promise that "more photos and video of Delta Phoenix will be posted by early June."

May 22, 2005


Prospector 6 flight a success... John Garvey reports on the launch of the Prospector 6 on May, 21, 2005 by the Cal State Long Beach/Garvey Spacecraft group. Here is the note sent out by John:

Quick initial report on yesterday’s Prospector 6 flight campaign.

In short – it went very well. Pretty much everything performed as planned. Initial photos from Joe “Rocket Hunter” Mullin tell the story as well as anything I might write – good launch, straight-up flight, stage separation, deployment of all parachutes and successful recovery of the key hardware elements ...

... The Prospector 6 vehicle arrived early Saturday a.m.. Integration got underway in the 6:30 to 7:00 a.m. timeframe and launch took place around 12:30 p.m (pretty good for us and another demo of “responsive launch”). The vehicle went together relatively smoothly considering all that was involved, the first-time nature of many of the operations, and the overall size of the vehicle (again – the P6 is the same size as a conceptual Nanosat Launch Vehicle and is the biggest vehicle we have flown to date).

The weather conditions for flight were ideal, with essentially no wind and no clouds (temperatures in the mid-90’s were taxing for some folks not used to that kind of desert heat). Ignition occurred on the first attempt with no technical issues during the final terminal operations. It also appears that the Montana State University data logger package functioned nominally and the CSULB student Wi Fi telemetry experiment downlinked real-time data through the flight. And – the CSULB side-mounted mini-DV camera got banged up on landing, but John3 and Shaun were able to save the video – it is spectacular (expect to find it on the CSULB site in the next few days). We will be processing these and related data sets over the coming week or two. In the meantime, recovery-system guru Dave McCue’s altimeters reported peak altitudes of 2849 and 2836 ft AGL – less than the pre-flight max altitude predictions, but still fully sufficient for achieving all the objectives of this flight test.

Initial field inspection of the hardware indicates that all the key elements of the first stage propulsion system are fully intact. The airframes for the first stage/interstage and the the second stage simulator/fairing sustained damage, but these are easily repairable / refurshable, so getting back into flight should not be a major challenge, at least from a vehicle perspective.

On other fronts, the Flometrics / San Diego State University team also got their LOX/Jet Fuel-A vehicle into the air later in the afternoon on what was another high-intensity event. I’ll defer to Steve, Carl & the rest of that team for details.

As usual, we all owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Dave Crisalli and his colleagues for making the MTA available and providing support and a lot of patience throughout the day.

We’ll be getting more photos, and updates out over the next few days as we receive and process inputs from those of you who participated. We will hold our weekly work party this Thursday, during which we will dis-assemble and inspect the vehicle. At some point in the next few weeks, we will also try to hold our traditional post-test data review. Again, I will remind anyone who has photos, video or other related items of interest, please get them to myself, Vince Deno and/or Eric Besnard.


April 20, 2005

News briefs ... Here's the latest from Flometrics:

April 2005 Update for rocket fuel pump and
SDSU student rocket project.

We had originally planned to build a rocket around the pump, but the student rocket project has become a victim of its own success, with most of the principal students getting great part-time (and full-time) jobs based on their rocket experience.

In any case, the pistonless pump has reached a level where further development is customer specific, so right now we are primarily working on sales, and any technology development is customer driven. For example, one of our potential customers is concerned about pressure spikes, so we updated the valves on the Plexiglas pump model and reduced the spikes by a factor of 5. The pressure deviation is less than ±2.1 % at this point. Compare this to the Titan missile where ± 1 G pogo oscillations were considered acceptable. Multiply the acceleration times the head height of the tanks, and you have engine pressure fluctuations of ~35 psi or ± 4.6 % On one Gemini mission the pogo reached+/- 5Gs and the vehicle still reached orbit (with shaken astronauts).

Note that the Pistonless Pump reduces pogo because the tank pressure is decoupled from the pump output pressure.

Graphs of the pressure spike reduction on our Plexiglas pump model:

and the raw data is at:

The spikes in the Plexiglas model look just like the ones in our larger model, so we know that we can eliminate spikes in larger, higher pressure pumps as well.

I will be at the AIAA Responsive Space 2005 conference on Tuesday, April 25-28 www.responsivespace.com. I will have the pump model with the new valves with me if you would like to see it (I registered too late for a display).

I will also be at Space Access www.space-access.org later in the week (28-30) in Phoenix with the pump model.

We will be happy to do an free analysis of the pump for your vehicle or engine, including mass, size, cost, system design hints etc. The pump can save time and cost for engine testing as well, because large high pressure tanks are expensive.

A launch of the student rocket is planned for late May, contact me for details if you want to see it. The student web page is down for now but look for it at www.sdsurocket.org in a week or so.

Steve Harrington Ph. D
President, Flometrics, Inc.
Lecturer, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, SDSU
406 N Cedros Ave
Solana Beach CA 92075
fax 858-720-9224

March 28, 2005

News briefs ... The Cal State Long Beach / Garvey Spacecraft collaboration will carry out a low altitude test flight of the Nanosat Launch Vehicle (NLV) ths May: Prospector 6 Flight Preparation - CSLBU - Mar.25.05 ...

... ASR (AeroSpace Research) of South Africa "is the only company in South Africa that designs and manufactures, High Power Rocketry components and propulsion systems." In addition to its HPR business, it pursues advanced rocketry R&D projects and even seeks to develop an orbital vehicle based on the RSA-3 vehicle under development by the South African government until 1994. ...

... The cover article for the April issue of Popular Mechanics magazine dealt with high power rocketry. The report centered on one of the ROC-Stock launch events sponsored by the Rocketry Organization of California.

March 10, 2005

CSXT confirms altitude record... The CSXT project reports that subsequent analysis has confirmed an altitude of 72 miles for the GoFast! rocket launched last May 17th: GoFast Rocket Maximum Altitude Verification - CSXT - Mar.8.05 (pdf). This makes it the "the first Civilian and Amateur rocket to successfully exceed the 62 mile (100km) international definition of space."...

... More info about the project at Derek Deville's Civilian Space eXploration Team and GoFast! Rocket Earns Top Technology Award for 2004 in Aerospace Engineering's Annual Review Magazine - Go Fast! - Jan.26.05.

Hot water rockets have been developed by students at the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Berlin University of Technology in a program called Aquarius: Hot Water Rocket Propulsion Systems. The long term goal is to use steam rockets in take-off assist systems such as the sled catapult planned for the German Hopper vehicle.

February 24, 2005

News brief ... The Race to Black project involves students at Florida Tech, Embry-Riddle, and Indiana Tech who are rushing to build a sounding rocket capable of reaching 100km in a launch this April: Students' space race is delayed: Indiana Tech team's rocket launch moved to April 15 on safety issues. - Fort Wayne News Sentinel - Feb.23.05 .

More info here:

January 20, 2005

News brief ... The famous Fredericksburg High School rocketry program in Texas continues to build impressive vehicles: Rocket Kids Looking Higher: For Brett Williams' Principles of Technology II students at Fredericksburg High School, the sky's apparently not the limit. - Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post/Fredericksburg, TX

January 10, 2005

News briefs ... The Garvey Spacecraft/CALVEIN team has posted a page describing in more detail the recent NLV flight test: CALVEIN Team Flies NLV First Stage Flight Development Unit No. 1 (P-5) - Dec.04. It includes both pictures and videos...

... Garvey Spacecraft is consolidating some of its facilities with those at CSULB: Garvey Spacecraft Corporation News ...

... Here are some dramatic photos of a failed static test of an 8 Inchperoxide/kerosene motor carried out by the Sacramento L5 Society on Sept. 25, 2004 in the Black Rock Desert.

Continue to December 2004


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG

Other Advanced Rocketry News Sites:
Amateur Rocketry Society





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