Blackout is a level 3 high-powered rocket competing in the 10,000 AGL apogee COTS category at the 2021 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). The rocket is a 10.5 ft. completely custom carbon fiber aero-structure and SRAD flight computer equipped with an M-2020 75mm Cesaroni solid motor.
Behind the Scenes
Check out our progress from the beginning to launch day!
IREC Poster Session Video
Check out our technical poster session video!
Brahm Soltes (Technical Lead) - 4th year Mechanical Engineer
Aubrey Figoras - 3rd year Mechanical Engineer
Ben Richard - 5th year Mechanical Engineer
Billy Siegener - 3rd year Electrical Engineer
Carl Kulesza - 2nd year Microelectronic Engineer
Domenic Cacace - 1st year Computer Science
Gillian Doolittle - 3rd year Mechanical Engineer
Kevin Rinehart - 5th year Mechanical Engineer
James May - 3rd year Mechanical and Electrical Engineer
Jim Heaney - 4th year Industrial and Systems Engineer
Joseph Even - 4th year Electrical Engineer
Joy Sangsrichan - 4th year Computer Science
Matt Ryan - 5th year Industrial and Systems Engineer
Nathan Aquilio - 3rd year Mechanical Engineer
Patrick Ekeren - 5th year Mechanical Engineer
Tomasz Mazur - 1st year Chemical Engineer
Will Merges - 3rd year Computer Science
Yevgeniy Gorbachev - 1st year Mechanical Engineer
A 4:1 6” tangent ogive nose cone was chosen as the team has had previous success with this similar shape in previous rockets. Our nose cone is 35” long, made in house using carbon fiber, with a machined tip for more control over the tip radius and strength, compared to the conventional solid carbon fiber tip with a larger tip radius.
The purpose of the body tubes is to house the inner components of the rocket while providing aerodynamic stability throughout the flight. For the IREC 2021 rocket, the following unique considerations were made:
The lower section of the rocket, the booster, has multiple parts: motor retainer, fin can, and main parachute. The main goals of the booster are to secure and center the motor and motor casing.
The motor retainer is a two-piece design:
The deployment of the main parachute is handled by the Eggtimer Quark with a Stratologger PerfectFlite as redundancy. For data collection, a custom flight computer (S.P.I.C.A.) was designed to obtain telemetry for the rocket as well as to detect apogee. Telemetry for the rocket includes pressure, temperature, altitude, acceleration, pitch, roll, yaw, and GPS position. To obtain pressure, temperature, and altitude, two different altimeters are used with a max measurable altitude of 120,000 feet. To obtain acceleration, pitch, roll, and yaw, a 9 Degree-of-Freedom Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is implemented with an additional 100G 3-axis linear accelerometer. For tracking purposes, a GPS module with an additional active antenna is used. Telemetry for the rocket is stored on the S.P.I.C.A. using a SPI Flash memory chip, and data is also transmitted in real-time with a 900MHz transceiver. While not used until further testing is performed, the S.P.I.C.A. also has four deployment channels with continuity sensing. Since the airframe is made of carbon fiber, an RF-blocking material, external antennas are mounted to the outside of the rocket for the 900MHz transceiver and the GPS.
Camera & Switches
Another unique part of this years rocket is the mechanical arming switches and the embedded cameras.
The four RunCam Split 3s cameras are mounted in an enclosure inside the rocket to reduce aerodynamic drag while still getting a good view while capturing footage at 1080p and 60fps.
The Remove Before Flight (RBF) pins allow arming and disarming of the rocket by pull-pins on the pad. Theses custom switches, manufactured by Jim Heaney, give the team fast, reliable, inexpensive, and reversible arming switches.
This year we put together a fun and small experimental payload. From our local brewery, two Genesee beers were secured in a plywood and steel payload housing and attached via recovery hardness to a secured bulkhead. The goal of this payload is to test temperature fluctuation from initial liftoff, apogee, and landing.