I have delayed posting about this semesters project for awhile now, but now that I have a decent amount of material to present it is time to post it here.

The idea of a rockoon system is to lift a rocket high above most of the atmosphere on a balloon, in order to minimize the drag loss. Extreme altitudes can be reached at a reasonable cost.

So I was looking for a new project to start at the beginning of this semester, and I went to talk to the project adviser about it. There was really only one rocketry related project going on at the time, one in which I had participated for the last two years (USLI). I was about ready for something new.

My initial idea was to design, build and test fire a rocket engine, either a hybrid motor or an aerospike engine. He told me that that was going to be very tricky... the design part was obviously not an issue, and not even the build part. But testing a rocket engine on campus was going to be a challenge running by Risk Management. He wanted to see a project that was reasonable to see through to completion, and suggested that I look into restarting the Rockoon project. This would be something we would actually be able to fly, and if we got everything to work we could reach extreme altitudes, up to 150k feet or more.

Interest piqued.

Last week we just completed our preliminary design review (PDR) and were reviewed fairly positively. Below are some pretty pictures from the presentation:

Our next steps are to:
  • Find RockSim Pro and refine design. Do simulations.
  •  Refine launcher design (Materials ideas: balsa & fiberglass composite, minimum amount of aluminum)
  • Ansys, CFD. ß lower priority
  • Start ordering supplies!

There may be an interesting complication that may inhibit our ability to launch by the end of next semester, but I want to wait before posting about it. (You'll just have to wait and read the next post. Don't worry, it's nothing bad...)


High Power Rocketry said...

What is the diameter of the rocket and what possible motors do you have in mind? If you launch from a high altitude, say 50,000 feet or so, the M 2020 in a light airframe could get very high indeed, 150,000 feet would be reasonable! At the same time, such goals would not be as hard as launching from 100,000 feet (at which point an M or N motor could hit space!)

DTH Rocket said...

It's a 3" airframe and we'll be using a Cesaroni L1115. We're hoping to launch from 75-80k feet, and that should be high enough to easily clear 150k. We've only done some crude simulations at this point though.

Yeah, in the future we hope to expand the project to use level-3 motors and hit space! We may even get ambitious and use multiple stages.

Of course, working with the FAA may be our most challenging and limiting factor, more-so than cost and technical challenges.

(I'll clue you in on the issue about launching next semester, I was offered an internship during the spring semester and I'm 99% sure I am going to accept it).

High Power Rocketry said...

This is an area where you could really make a breakthrough. That L1115 can do some great work from 80,000 feet. Getting it there, and getting permission is going to be hard!