MIT Rocket Team are aiming high, 80,000ft high in fact, with Project Hermes which they plan to launch from Spaceport America next year as an exhibition flight for IREC 2018.
The rocket, builds upon previous flight-proven designs will use an in-house built ‘P’ class solid rocket motor. Having a propellant mass of ~85lbs (38.5kg) and a liftoff mass of 175lbs (79.4kg), the rocket will reach Mach 3.5 on its way up to 80,000ft.
The team have an extensive range of information on their Wiki Page about the project but also loads of info on designing and building rockets, from composite tube layup to picking the right video camera for that awesome footage!
The team placed 2nd in this years IREC Competition for COTS solid rocket motor powered rocket to 10,000ft and also flew a rocket to 31,850ft at the same competition.
Am looking forward to seeing Project Hermes lift off and to see that 100km barrier broken in the not too distant future.
Make sure to follow progress on,
Video Caption: Two firings of the liquid bi-propellant motor being developed by the Friends of Amateur Rocketry
Over the last year I have been working on a 3D printed spark torch igniter, this has been a little side project while at university and eventually the experience gained will lead to this or a similar igniter used to light the main chamber of my rocket engine.
Yesterday I achieved the first hot fire tests of the igniter, the final test is shown below.
I ran through three hot fire tests, tuning it a bit each go. As can be seen, it is currently running oxygen-rich whereas it was designed to run fuel rich, the flame is too blue.
The design chamber pressure is 70 PSI, in this test it is ~85 PSI, so still some tuning of the inlet pressures required.
Before this test I had to replace a solenoid with another I had that has a smaller orifice than the fuel orifice on the igniter, although there is only 0.1mm difference this could slightly affect the performance. In the future, I will implement different sized orifice fittings to help fine tune it as I am not 100% on the size of the 3D printed orifices in the chamber.
You can read more about the project here.
The team have been making steady progress on their Colossus Static Fire System, when complete the stand will be able to handle rocket engines up to 5000lbf and will be available to rent for your own projects! Such a great idea, enabling easy and cheaper access to engine testing.
Video Caption: After two subsequent tests in July, we hot-fired the sub-scale engine again. Although we did not hit the design point of the engine due to feed system problems, we were able to collect valuable scientific data. Finding these problems in a sub-scale test enables us to implement a fix, before the start of full-scale testing. Technical Data: Mean thrust: 1255 N Design chamber pressure: 20 bar Burn time: 5 s Mean mass flow oxygen: 532 g/s ISP: 160 s
Please note: We’re predominantly master students of mechanical engineering and spend most of the time before test on calculations and preparations to prevent severe damages on material and personnel. Please don’t feel inspired to light your own rocket motor in your backyard. Rocket science is a serious issue – if you get the numbers wrong, people die. You have some experience in mechanical/electrical engineering and want to participate, become part of the team? Feel free to send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonny Hyman, whom I earlier posted about, has now consolidated his rocket efforts under the name Exoplanet Company. Jonny has started by open sourcing his GUI he has built to test his rocket engines and this can now be found on GitHub for you to download and set up for yourself!
In the 2nd video below Jonny explains how the GUI works and how it is integrated into his ground test system for a hybrid rocket motor.
Make sure to follow Jonny on Twitter as he recently live-streamed an engine test, unfortunately, a bad ignition did not lead to a sustained burn. Never the less watch this space!