MTA Launch, 2020-01-25

by Osvaldo Tarditti, RRS President

USC Students came out to fly a rocket as part of the USC Poise Project (see more below). The students arrived Friday evening and camped out at the MTA to get an early start Saturday. The rocket took off around 11 am, followed by the recovery crew initiating a search. It was a beautiful day with no wind, it seems like the vehicle took a slight curved trajectory right after clearing the ramp. The rail may not have been perfectly straight and the speed might not have been fast enough to secure an initial straight trajectory. Further details from USC follow.

USC Poise Project Team

Poise Project Summary (by USC)

Poise is the sophomore design project of the 2018-2019 sophomore class. The project consists of a static fire and 6” diameter vehicle with an expected apogee of 34,000 feet. As a design project, Poise is not going for an altitude record, rather it serves as a test-bed for a handful of new R&D projects at a relatively smaller scale. While the static fire occurred in April of 2019, the vehicle launch has slipped into the 2019-2020 school-year due to the numerous design changes being tested. Compared to our proven technologies on Traveler IV, Poise features the following new innovations:

  • A new “extrudable” propellant formula that is less viscous than RPL’s previous formula. This will serve for easier manufacturing of motor grains.
  • A 2-part recovery system, where the rocket body and nosecone each have independent parachute systems. This is predicted to result in a smoother descent and minimize damage to the vehicle on descent.
  • An additional, isolated avionics component called the “black box” placed in the camera bay. The black box contains a high-grade IMU in order to supplement avionics’ existing IMU and gyroscope data and increase precision and certainty when calculating apogee and flight path.
  • The nozzle is made entirely of carbon phenolic, without a graphite insert at the throat. This drastically simplifies the nozzle manufacturing process while having very little predicted impact on the flight.

After review of GPS flight data, it has been determined that Poise reached an apogee of 31,090 ft! This was only 160 ft above the nominal prediction by our simulations team, which is an excellent estimation. While Poise’s trip up went incredibly, our new dual recovery system leaves work to be done. The nosecone (containing the main avionics components) was found, but the rocket body separated from its parachute on descent and has not yet been located. This section contained the GoPro cameras and the black box, which recorded additional flight data. Regardless of the loss of the body, the Poise project served as a test-bed for numerous development projects, a platform for RPL’s younger members to design a vehicle, and gives RPL much to improve on in the future.

Poise Project Taking Flight

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