After months of design, technical report construction, and manufacturing, the XSpace rocket, Fool's Journey, is complete! The rocket stands at about 8 feet tall and is now ready for launch. Unfortunately, the rain, snow, and cold of Upstate New York prevented the team from launching by their target of May 2019, even thought the rocket has been launch-ready for a month. The manufacturing phase was a great experience for new members, who got to have lots of hands-on experience with different materials and machine tools. Additionally, co-authoring the 30-page technical report, which explains the details of why the rocket is designed the way it is, is excellent preparation for reports that will be required for future competition rockets.
A Fool's Journey overview presentation with some calculations, as well as the technical report, are attached to this post.
The RIT Launch Initiative team was founded in 2015 by several students that are passionate about aerospace and rocketry. The idea was to create a team that unites students who share an excitement about aerospace and rocketry that can come together to learn and be exposed to the field. Since its founding, the team has grown to around 40 to 60 members and competes in international rocket competitions. The team is nationally ranked 12th and internationally ranked 13th.
The team's main competition is the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition IREC which takes place in Spaceport New Mexico. The team's competition objective to get as close as possible in altitude to 30,000 ft and deploy a payload, which is a surrogate for a cube satellite.
RIT Launch Initiative will be using one of these sports cameras this year. We plan to use a modified security camera to get footage of the rocket launching off the pad at the IREC competition. This year's competition rocket has an onboard flight computer that will autonomously control parachute deployment and payload deployment. The flight computer will record acceleration, GPS telemetry, and other data during the entire flight from the rocket sitting on the pad to landing. The camera will help the team validate different events during the launch sequence. The camera will also provide footage for our social media pages and website. For further reading on how to choose an appropriate camera for your launch, you may find this camera guide useful.
The Space Force rocket design was recently approved and the team will start constructing the beginning of next year! Our goal is to break the current Tripoli altitude record (32,030 ft) for an L class motor and take a 360-degree video at apogee. With our current design, the estimated altitude is 33,324 ft with a maximum speed of 2,763 ft/s.
Key Design Features
Given the requirements for both Launch Initiative Space Race teams, XSpace has designed a rocket around the required Cesaroni 6 Grain XL motor casing. The team has decided to develop a rocket that will deploy a camera payload at apogee that will return to the ground separate from the main rocket body. The goal of this payload ejection is to capture 360 degree footage of the surrounding Upstate New York landscape, as well as a view of the main rocket body descending and deploying its main parachute.
The following are specifications for the current design of the XSpace competition rocket:
Key Design Features:
We thank our number one software sponsors ANSYS and SIEMENS for supporting the team, and providing the most advanced state of the art modeling and simulation software in the field. The use of the software allows for the team to design and develop quality work. Thank you ANSYS and SIEMENS, a great part of the team's success comes from you!
We want to thank the RIT Kate Gleason College of Engineering, our college and home, for supporting our team this year, and allowing us to further develop and succeed. We thank our Dean , Doreen Edwards, and our Associate Dean Matt Marshall of the college for their support, help, and time. RIT Launch Initiative thanks you both!
In addition to regular Saturday Launch all-member meetings, Space Race teams meet once a week to work on their independent rocketry projects.
Throughout the first few weeks of the semester, XSpace members have been familiarizing themselves with OpenRocket, which is Launch Initiative's primary rocketry design program. All members are encouraged to install the program on their computer because of its usefulness in running simulation on rockets that they will be working out throughout the year. Most members of the Space Race teams are also participating in the Level 1 program. For those with OpenRocket installed, Level 1 designs and simulations have been carried out to give new members an idea of what components are important in a model rocket and of just how powerful and L1 rocket is.
On Saturday, September 29th, several XSpace members were able to attend their first Upstate Rocketry Research Group (URRG) launch in Potter, NY. Going to the launch was a great experience to see some of the opportunities that being a rocketry association member opens up. New members were also able to witness some of the pre-launch procedures, such as installing motors, that take place before one's rocket goes on the launch rail.
This semester is off to a great start. A team of 12 members has begun preliminary design consideration on this year's competition rocket. The mission: Deliver the payload (Just The Tip, currently under development for Odysseus) to 30,000 feet at the 2019 Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico. The current component model for the project can be seen below:
Given the goal of the payload (see Odysseus Project Update #1), we have decided to name this project The Water Bearer. One of the main focuses of this project is to minimize aerodynamic drag to allow for the use of a smaller COTS engine. To achieve this, we plan on utilizing custom transition pieces, namely the airframe reducer and the boat tail at the end of the rocket. Velocities of around Mach 2.0 are expected during flight, which gives this a top priority. Other features of this project include jettison motors on the nosecone to expose the payload, a spring-loaded release system to eject the payload, and a fin can assembly with the capability of removing and replacing fins.
Stay posted for more updates on our project!
Upstate Research Rocketry Group (URRG), Potter, NY (Link)
Today's launch was the first test launch of the new VT nosecones for the L1 program, as well as a test of the SQ12 camera system for future launches. The rocket was retrofitted with a 60" parachute, allowing for slow descent and plenty of footage capture. Estimated max altitude of 1,200 feet AGL reached
Every Story Has a Beginning... -Tim Burton
Currently, both in our team and most of the hobby, rockets are already landed and re-used, the ultimate goal of SpaceX's landing system. However, most rockets currently use parachutes to achieve this goal. Parachutes are usually reliable, but they are at the mercy of the wind. This issue led to our team having to travel over 3 miles last year to retrieve a rocket from the top of a tree! Odysseus rockets would be able to land using rockets, allowing for rapid, precise descent.
For such an ambitious projects, baby steps are the way to get. Phase 1 of the Odysseus project will not be a rocket, but a payload. The payload, named "Just The Tip" will fly in the IREC 2019 rocket to 30,000 feet, before deploying and conducting a parachute-assisted propulsive landing (PAPL). In order to comply with IREC regulations, the payload will have to conform to a 3U cubesat form factor, as seen above. This test will allow us to confirm all of our electronics and subsystems are working, as well as to prove that such an act is possible. This system will also carry multiple secondary internal projects, that will further other development projects of the team, and conduct scientific experiments.