Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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MN Space Grant Hosts NASA Rocket Competition

NASA's Minnesota and Wisconsin Space Grant programs kicked-off the 2014 Space Grant Midwest Regional High-Power Rocketry Competition with judged presentations on April 25 in Akerman Hall, and flights on April 26 at the Tripoli MN launch site near North Branch. Teams from five Midwest states - Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin - entered 13 high-power rockets in the competition.

The competition had four main goals: reach a peak altitude of precisely 3000 feet, recover the rocket safely and in flyable condition, predict its flight performance, and characterize its performance by more than one method. The challenge was making concessions between the rocket design and the competition's set limitations on dimensions and motor selection. Participants were also expected to include design analysis, make an oral presentation, and assess data results.

"We were pleased to be able to host this year's competition and have good weather on the competition flight day." said Professor James Flaten, associate director of the MN Space Grant Consortium and AEM contract assistant professor. "High-power rocketry is an engaging activity and all student participants, ranging from undeclared freshmen to graduating AEM seniors, learned a lot from participating in this competition."

The AEM department was represented by two teams, both of which flew safely but slightly exceed the target altitude. "The Last Second" was built by a team from Professor Garrard's Senior Design class. This rocket used a J-motor and featured an innovative drogue parachute deployment mechanism that fired during ascent to serve as an air break to slow the rocket down and peak at 3000 feet. The other rocket, called "Redshift 7," was built by an all-freshman team advised by Professor Flaten and flew on a K-motor. It used an adjustable-weight system to limit its apogee to the desired altitude.

Final reports are still being written, so final competition results are not yet decided. The winners are expected to be announced on May 20, 2014.

Both the senior design team (left) and freshman team prepare their rockets for launch at the 2014 Midwest Regional High-Power Rocketry Comptition.

Last Modified: 2014-04-29 at 16:05:12 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation