Category Archives: Rocketry

Video: BPS.space flies Falcon Heavy scale model rocket

I recently posted about Joe Barnard adding thrust vector control and other advanced features to model rockets.  The goal is to model not just the appearance of large rockets but how they take off and fly as well. This weekend, he successfully flew for the first time a model he built of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which involved separation of the two side cores and the in-flight firing start-up of the center core.

The side boosters executed a 20 degree roll program with a rate of 30dps, beginning at T+0.9. Initial pitch-over of the vehicle at launch was due to thrust inconsistencies between booster motors. Because of a low level coordinate transformation error in its flight software, the center core flew with poor stability, correcting roughly 20 degrees off axis for both pitch and yaw. Photos from the flight can be found here: https://bps.space/gallery/

Find out more about Barnard’s projects and rocket hardware at BPS.space.

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130 student teams to compete in 2nd Annual Spaceport America Cup rocket competition

An announcement from Spaceport America:

Second Annual Spaceport America Cup Scheduled
for June 19-23 at Spaceport America, NM
 

130 Teams of College and University Rocketeers from Around the Globe to Compete

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. (PRWEB) JUNE 13, 2018:  Student rocketeers from around the globe will gather at Spaceport America June 21-23 for the Second Annual Spaceport America Cup, the world’s largest Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams. The public in invited to meet the team and see their projects on June 19 in nearby Las Cruces, NM. Spaceport America is located between the cities of Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

More than 130 teams from US and international colleges and universities – including Canada, Egypt, Great Britain, India, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, Switzerland, as well as 31 of the 50 US States, plus the District of Columbia, and four of 13 Canadian provinces and territories – are registered. The competition will be challenging for the participants and exciting for spectators, as students will be launching solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet.

Among the events open to the public, under the auspices of the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and Spaceport America, are:

  • Tuesday, June 19 – 8 am – 5 pm: Free admission. Come interact with students and view their projects at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E University Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88001
  • Thursday-Saturday, June 21 – 23: Gates are open 8 am – 4 pm, dependent on weather conditions. Watch as rockets soar thru the sky and mingle with students in the spectator area. A three-day pass for adults is $20, with a one-day pass available for $10. For children in grades K-12, a three-day pass is $10; a one-day pass is $5.

Visit www.spaceportamericacup.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

About Spaceport America: Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has a rocket-friendly environment of 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot spaceway, and 340 days of sunshine and low humidity. Some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are customers at Spaceport America: Virgin Galactic, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, UP Aerospace, EnergeticX, Pipeline2Space and EXOS Aerospace. Visit http://spaceportamerica.com for more information.
Spaceport America is #NewMexicoTRUE.

Follow Spaceport America on
Twitter: @Spaceport_NM
Facebook: @SpaceportNM
Instagram: @spaceport.america

About Las Cruces: Nestled in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley between the Rio Grande River and Organ Mountains, Las Cruces is quickly becoming a popular southwestern destination, and is now emphasizing its close connections to space travel, including the First Annual Space Festival in April 2018, and a full-size replica of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo on display near City Hall. Las Cruces blends a unique variety of such special events, attractions, culture and historical sites, as well as superb weather, with 350 days of sunshine per year. For more information on all Las Cruces has to offer, contact Visit Las Cruces at (575) 541-2150 or http://www.visitlascruces.com.

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2018 Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition

A message from Jack Colpas co-director of the RFTS Competition:

Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition

Through a NASA grant the Florida Space Grant Consortium sponsored 100 kids in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket is a fantastic way to turn kids on to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects.

Five national winners will be determined by local competitions. They will celebrate at Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama – under an October Sky.

NASA and the Florida Space Grant Consortium are Helping Kids Reach for the Stars

Everyone agrees – we need to get more kids interested in STEM careers. To do that we need to get them excited about STEM subjects. Building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket is a fantastic way to turn kids on to the STEM subjects. Nothing lends itself to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math like rocketry. After all – this is Rocket Science!

To meet that need the Florida Space Grant Consortium, under the direction of Dr. Jaydeep Mukherjee, arranged for a NASA grant that funded 100 students from across Florida. Each of the students, from four different schools, received a rocket kit to buid and launch, supplies for two launches, an achievement certificate and registration in the national competition. The schools received a Launch Set and certificate of involvement.

“To keep the playing field even – we are hoping to get similar grants in the other 49 states. This is, after all, a national competition.” says RFTS co-director Jack Colpas.

The Florida schools helped by the grant were identified by the economic need of its students. Thus giving the opportunity to kids who might not have had the chance to compete. The Imagine School, West Melbourne, STEAM Director, Brendan Williams / Bagdad Elementary School, Santa Rosa – Science Teacher, Tammy Dillard / Shaw Elementary, Tampa – SPARK teacher, Angela Williams / King Middle School, Milton – Science Teacher, Cathy Thompson; have a majority of their students on Free or Reduced Lunch Programs.

The teachers involved in the grant, rave about the opportunities it provides for their students.

Brendan Williams, “….most of my students could not afford to use Estes rockets. This grant will give them a chance to take their rocketry design and love of STEM to the next level. Giving these students opportunities like this opens their eyes to the possibilities for their lives that might then open doors for them as they grow up.”

Tammy Dillard, “I would like to be able to offer them more exposure to things that they would not normally have. Being able to construct a rocket and actually fly it! Without this grant, they would never have the chance. This opportunity will enable them to try and try again something wonderful. What they discover through this experience will be monumental.”

Cathy Thompson, “I am very excited to help the team compete with the rockets. These kids are very interested in flight and science. Most do not get these opportunities outside of school.”

Angela Williams, “This activity would expose them to STEM activities at a level they have never seen. I’m certain it would spark their interest to continue in other STEM activities and subjects in the future. I would also like to encourage the girls to be involved in this science building activity.”

An indication of the grant’s success can be seen in competitor Jordyn Presley from Bagdad Elementary School. She did so well that she won the local event at her school – and was one of the top five entries nationwide. As a national winner she will travel to Space Camp in October to celebrate with the other national winners.

Contestants – ages 10 to 18 – compete at an event held at their own location. It is fun, affordable (no travel expense or hassle) & easy to run (step-by-step video covers rocket construction and launch). After two launches and parachute landings, the closest average distance to a target wins the local event. Local winner’s results are sent to the national headquarters to determine the five national winners.

The five national winners in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition will be invited to celebrate in grand fashion at  Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama under an ‘October Sky’. There they will be presented a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative medal with certificate signed by Astronaut Jon McBride. Captain McBride piloted the Challenger on her early missions.

With their families, the winners they will continue their celebration. – experiencing Astronaut training simulators, seeing amazing space memorabilia, visiting Shuttle Park and standing under the massive Saturn V rocket. They get to launch their rockets from Homer Hickam Field – named after NASA engineer and author of the memoir, Rocket Boys aka October Sky.

Competition co-director, Kathy Colpas says,

“We promise the national winners – memories to last a lifetime and bragging rights for generations to come. Launching their rockets from a historical location and receiving a medal presented by an Astronaut allows us to fulfill our promise.”

The Competition honors the memory of Christa McAuliffe, 1st Teacher-in-Space. Everyone involved in the Competition receives a certificate that bears Christa’s likeness and her quote, “Push yourself as far as you can. Reach for the stars!” The background of the certificates is the artwork of Astronaut & Moonwalker, Alan Bean.

Ten Astronauts recommend the RFTS Competition. Several have presented medals to the national winners. Two, US Senator Bill Nelson and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, encourage the kids in video clips prepared specially for the competitors.

Competitions are already being held across the country. Local competitions can be held anytime throughout the year. Your kids can’t win it – if they’re not in it!

For photos and more details about the competition go to: www.RocketCompetition.com .

Videos: BPS.space pushing scale model rocketry capabilities to new heights

Joe Barnard founded the company BPS.space to push scale model rocketry to new levels of sophistication:

Barnard Propulsion Systems develops model rocketry components, aimed at closely matching the pace of advancement in the space-launch industry. Learning by experimentation is the most effective way to gain a deep understanding of new concepts, which is why providing hands-on experience with advanced rocketry components is important for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and astronauts.

A BPS flight computer, for example, provides for

 “thrust vectoring, controlling parachutes, data logging, and in-flight emergency aborts. Safer, more realistic flights—no fins required”.

Model rocket motor with electronic gimbal control.

This brief video shows off some of the company’s rocket technologies:

This video shows a talk given by Barnard about BPS Space:

You can follow and support Barnard’s projects at BPS.space is creating Rockets | Patreon.

“A successful static fire test of Scout in June, 2017”

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$100k in prizes for student rocket contest sponsored by Mars Society & FAR

The Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) and the Mars Society are sponsoring a contest for liquid-fueled bi-propellant powered rockets built by college student teams:

FAR/Mars Society Launch Contest
Student Rocketry Teams Compete for FAR-MARS Prize

MOJAVE, CA – Student-built rockets will streak into the stratosphere in Spring, 2018 as college and university engineering teams from around the world compete for $100,000 in prizes in a contest sponsored jointly by the Mars Society, headquartered in Denver, CO and the California-based Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), officers announced today.

The FAR-MARS Prize will grant $50,000 to the team whose bi-propellant liquid-fueled rocket comes closest to reaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters). A second $50,000 prize will go to the team that comes closest to hitting that same altitude with a rocket-powered by liquid-methane and liquid-oxygen, announced Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, and Mark Holthaus, director and treasurer of FAR.

“If one team can achieve both goals with the same rocket, they’ll win both prizes totaling $100,000,” Holthaus said.

The contest launch window will commence Saturday, May 5, 2018, the 57th anniversary of the launch of Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, and continue through Sunday, May 13, according to Holthaus and Zubrin. The goal of being the closest to 45,000 feet, rather than simply reaching the highest altitude, was chosen so teams would have to demonstrate the precise control required to create reusable launch vehicles, Holthaus said.

“We see this as a logical follow-on to the Orteig Prize of the 1920’s that sparked aviation, and the X Prize of the 2000’s that jump-started commercial spaceflight,” said Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society and author of the book The Case For Mars, which proposed the Mars Direct manned missions that radically changed ideas about the feasibility of interplanetary space travel in the 1990’s. “We’re looking to get college and university students fired up about rocketry, which is the key to space travel and making humanity a multi-planetary species.”

Funds for the prize have been provided by an anonymous donor whose goal is to advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in general and human spaceflight specifically, Holthaus and Zubrin said.

The $50,000 for each part of the prize will be presented to the college or university sponsoring the winning team, to be used for scholarships for students in the STEM fields related to rocketry.

Teams will have about 15 months to design, build, and test their rockets before gathering at the FAR rocket launch complex called FAR Site, located North of Edwards Air Force Base, on May 5, 2018.

 “Each competing rocket must loft a 2.2 pound (one-kilogram) payload, containing an altitude tracking device, to the target altitude,” Holthaus said. “The payload will be supplied by FAR, rockets must be recovered by parachute, and these rockets are required to clear 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) as a minimum to qualify.”

The competition will continue over two weekends (May 5-6 and 12-13) if needed, Holthaus noted.

FAR Site is equipped with static engine test stands and rocket launch rails so competing teams can try out their engines and rockets and tweak their performance pre-competition, Holthaus added.

Competing teams must be composed of college or university students, with at least one faculty adviser providing guidance, Holthaus said. Teams from the United States and all other nations are encouraged to enter and compete; two or more institutions can combine students, faculty, and resources for a single entry.

“We see the ability to design, build, and test bi-propellant liquid-fueled rockets as a key career skill in the coming decades, with a host of new, innovative rocket companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Orbital ATK taking spaceflight in entirely new directions,” Zubrin said. “Using methane as a fuel is a critical component for missions to the planet Mars, as it is easy to create liquid-methane out of the resources already available on that world.”

Details on how to enter the contest and the exact rules for the competition will be posted on the Mars Society and FAR websites.

The Mars Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars. Established by Dr. Robert Zubrin and others in 1998, the group works to educate the public, the media and government on the benefits of exploring Mars and creating a permanent human presence on the Red Planet.

Friends of Amateur Rocketry, formed in 2003 by amateur rocketry enthusiasts, whose mission is to educate the public in STEM fields through the use of amateur rocketry; and to foster rocket technology by supporting individuals, hobbyists, student groups, businesses, and other like-minded non-profit entities. Both The Mars Society and Friends of Amateur Rocketry are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

Author: David S. Michaels