Rockets 1st Place in Category at IREC

 This last week, SSI Rockets embarked on a long journey to New Mexico to compete in the first inaugural Spaceport America Cup, one of the world's largest rocketry competitions, with over a hundred teams from five continents.


Our official mission patch!



After a long car trip to Spaceport America in New Mexico, we set about preparing for launch in the blistering 118F heat and occasional 25mph winds. And although everything we owned was soon covered in a light layer of dust, we managed to be one of the first teams to launch!





The IREC team at the launch site, taking a break just before launch!



Our rocket, Heart of Steel, officially became SSI's fastest and highest launch, getting within 1.5% of our altitude target of 30,000 feet, reaching a final maximum velocity of 1.8 times the speed of sound and enduring, at one point during recovery, over a hundred gravities of acceleration! Although we suffered an imperfect recovery and our payload - a novel telemetry system which does not require a ground station - failed to deploy, our launch overall was one of the most successful in the competition.

In fact, when the (literal and figurative) dust had settled, we were first place in our altitude and motor category, with a score nearly 50% higher than the second place team!



Heart of Steel taking off - PC Benno Kolland




We are immensely grateful to everybody who made this success possible - our team, the university, our sponsors, our friends in the amateur rocketry community, and of course Spaceport America and the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association, for making all of this possible. IREC 2017 was a wonderful experience, full of growth and progress for our team - we gained invaluable experience managing what was by far our largest project yet, becoming even more professional and efficient, forming relationships in the collegiate rocketry community and building the expertise we need to make even greater leaps in the future!

We are impossibly excited for this coming year and are already busy cooking up something even cooler - onwards and upwards!



Heart of Steel, heading skywards - PC Benno Kolland



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IREC Test Launch at FAR

This past Saturday, April 16th, the IREC team on Rockets made a journey down to the launch site owned and operated by the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) near Mojave, CA. It was a long car ride there and back, but it was well worth getting a chance to test the rocket design that we will ultimately take with us to New Mexico for the Spaceport America Cup in June.
From left to right: Saylor Brisson, Marie Johnson, John Dean, Rushal Rege, Logan Herrera, Ian Gomez, James Kolano, William Alvero-Koski, Derek Phillips, Christopher May, Thomas White, Rebecca Wong, Shi Tuck, Ruqayya Toorawa

Although we only managed to get one flight of our rocket in, we were very pleased with the opportunity to test all of our basic systems, from the deployment mechanism for our payload, to our motor retention system, to our SRAD avionics and beacon + GPS tracking. All of our sub-teams learned a lot from the journey and were excited that we got to return home with all of our components in-tact and recovered! We're looking forward to our next test launch when we return with various tweaks and improvements.
Outreach


Some additional bonuses to the trip were getting to meet the Cal Poly team and watch their rocket have a beautiful flight, and getting a chance to chat with some local middle school students about our project! Lastly I'd like to make a large shout-out to Eric Melville for his continuous support as we progress through our project. He's been a wealth of guidance and information both on and off the launch site. Thank you, Eric!Lift Off!

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Vibration test at Quanta Labs

On Tuesday, March 7th, members of our rockets Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) team visited Quanta Labs to perform a vibration test of our avionics system. Our unit passed the test. No major problems were detected, but we did gain insight into how to make our avionics system even more vibration and shock tolerant.

The Avionics System:
The avionics system in our rocket for IREC has been designed for high-reliability using redundant commercial altimeters and a custom student researched and developed flight computer. Its main function is to trigger deployment of the payload and recovery parachutes. In addition, the unit provides an RF beacon for locating the rocket after landing and a telemetry stream of live flight data using an RF link. Thanks to our recent sponsorship from Harwin, our avionics system features high-reliability connectors in important, safety critical connections.

The Test:
The unit that we tested included the parachute deployment assembly and avionics. This full assembly sat inside a sample section of our in-house custom fiberglass and carbon fiber airframe. To fixture our airframe section to the shake table, a CNC’ed delrin clamp was bolted into the shake table.
Integration of the system on the shake table

Using a shaker table at Quanta Labs, we performed the following tests of the system 
  1. 30G 6ms positive direction per axis, 3 axes
  2. 30G 6ms negative direction per axis, 3 axes
  3. 10Grms thrust axis 20Hz - 2kHz 20 seconds
  4. 7.6Grms lateral axes 20Hz - 2kHz 20 seconds each

The test specifications came from two sources. For shock, we used real values that we had recorded on previous flights. For vibration, we used the specs from the NASA Sounding Rockets User Handbook - Vehicle Level 1. These vibration specs are used to qualify payloads for going to space on NASA sounding rockets.

Here is a plot of the spectral content of the vibration applied for one of the tests:

To measure the continuity of the ignition lines from the avionics bay during the vibration and shock tests, we used one of our Keysight oscilloscopes, and recorded a 30 second session of the voltage across all of the lines.Our Keysight Oscilloscope used for recording ignition line continuity during the test

Here are some other pictures from our testing:Overhead view of the shake table


Connections for the test


We owe a huge thanks to Quanta Labs for providing their facilities and time to allow us to perform this test. Vibration and shock testing is critical for safety and reliability, and would not be possible without our sponsors.


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First Rocket Launch of the Year

On Saturday, October 15th, the SSI rockets team set out on it’s 7th group rocket launch, located at the Tripoli Central California launch site. This was also the first time SSI did a night launch. While no primary projects were launching this weekend, we got a new member certified, flew an experiment camera setup, and had a lot of fun.

During the day, we had three new L1 certification attempters, Andrew Nguyen, Eldrick Millares, and Jake Hillard. Due to some complications involving a lost rocket and grease mixed in with the black powder ejection charge on one of the rockets, only Jake Hillard successfully got the certification.
 
Also, John Dean launched a 360 fly camera on a fiberglass 4” rocket with a clear polycarbonate notecone. The flight went well, however there were some issues with the camera before launch and it didn’t record the flight. The camera is still fully intact though, and we plan to get some cool videos next launch.
 
 
While at the launch site, we heard that they needed an “expendable” rocket with a 54mm motor mount. Some of the gentlemen running the launch had a brand new, semi-experimental Aerotech K2050 motor that they wanted to try out on a rocket that may not make it back in one piece. John bravely offered up his old Firestorm 54, the rocket that he got his L1 and L2 certifications on. It was the third ever flight of this motor, and the result was very entertaining. The motor suffered a Catastrophic failure At Lift Off (CATO), and the nozzle of the motor was blown out. Hopefully we will get pictures of the event from some of the folks at TCC in the near future.
 
Lastly, we had some great night flights from Marie Johnson and Logan Herrera, and thanks to Andrew we got some awesome long exposure pics.
 

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Rockets July 16th Launch

On July 16th, 4 Rockets team members drove to the Tripoli Central California launch site for SSI's 7th rocket launch of the year. After a long day in the 100° weather, we came back with 3 completely successful flights, a new L2 certification, and one exciting semi-successful flight.

First flight of the day: Logan Herrera's FFF

Demonstration of the consequences of incorrect motor assembly. However, recovery on this flight was flawless
Logan Herrera's recovey of the inagural flight of the Spectator III, a 5.5 inch rocket with many more lights yet to come
Sadly, one of the planned flights of the day was scrubbed due to an altimeter demonstraiting odd behavour just before it was planned to launch. That flight was going to attempt to capture 360° video through a clear nosecone from a 4k resolution camera, generously donated to us by 360 Fly. The camera is awesome, and we can't wait to fly it next month!

DSC01347.JPG 1.41 MB

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