Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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LPRD Team to fire compact rocket engine

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The Liquid Propelled Rocket Design (LPRD) team at the University of Minnesota is working on a new approach to creating a rocket engine. What started off as a research and development project, has turned into a full scale design project with the goal of firing a liquid powered rocket engine.

Rocket engines are typically fired with kerosene and oxygen. However, instead of using oxygen, the team will use nitrous oxide. This is ideal because it takes up less space on the rocket itself and allows more space for other parts.

The group has developed three iterations of the engine design. The first iteration, MRK 1, is a very small proof of concept engine that has already been successfully fired five times. This iteration is currently being fired with the use of Gaseous Nitrous Oxide rather than Gaseous Oxygen.  

The MRK 2, which is 10x more powerful than MRK 1 was created with the goal of testing whether it is possible to fly the engine. MRK 3 is currently in the development and research stage, with the main goal of solving problems with the coolant. It will be designed entirely for rocket flight, and will be extremely compact which gives it the possibility to eventually go to space.

The team is preparing for a MK1 firing, which will take place at the end of May. “Right now, the main goal is to see what can be done with nitrous oxide,” says team lead, Glen Smith.

The preparation process involves several smaller tests including quantifying pressure drops through the valves, determining the flow rates of fluids, triple checking electronics, and doing a test readiness review with the faculty advisor, John Weyrauch. After this, the group will run through a dress rehearsal to go through the procedures and act out the steps that will be taken on the day of the test.

“We often encounter errors during these dress rehearsals and they prevent us from making those same mistakes on the day of the test,” says Smith.

The department wishes the team the best of luck as they prepare for the firing.

 

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Last Modified: 2018-05-01 at 12:16:08 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation