Princeton Rocketry Club Aiming for May Spaceshot

The Princeton Rocketry Club is currently in full swing working towards a May launch date of their two-stage rocket intended to fly to 400,000ft or 121.9km altitude. Given the definition of space is 100km this launch could be one of the first student rockets to reach space, all going to plan.

Princeton SpaceShot (Credit: Princeton Rocketry Club)

The Princeton SpaceShot, as it is aptly named, is a two-stage launch vehicle using off the shelf rocket motors and is of minimum diameter. The upper stage or sustainer as it is referred to is derived from Project Stratos that was tested last year and flew to 39,125ft, the rocket was only 2″ (50.8mm) in diameter. The booster is 4″ (101.6mm) in diameter and the rocket 3.3m in length, the overall weight at liftoff is expected to be 50lbs (22.67kg).

By using off the shelf commercial motors the team hopes to decrease the risks associated with making your own motors while taking advantage of the high reliability and safety of a commercial motor. A thorough FEA analysis and 6-DOF flight simulation have been carried out, with the vehicle now in the shop coming together.

The team plan to launch from Spaceport America, with the launch window open from May 26th to May 27th 2018.

Princeton is not the only ones vying for the Karman line, USCRPL will attempt a launch in April(?) with others like Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group and Space Enterprise at Berkeley heading in that same direction at a later date.

You can follow the Princeton SpaceShot by checking back here or head over to their,

[Edit: I originally had the USCRPL attempt listed as June, where in fact this should have been April, this has been updated to reflect this. An Instagram post points towards the end of the semester for the launch.]

4 thoughts on “Princeton Rocketry Club Aiming for May Spaceshot

  1. Maybe I was a bit harsh in my first comment, this is a really cool project and I don’t doubt that you put a lot of effort in this project. However if you buy a complete subsystem of your rocket, (and not just any subsystem, but probably the most important subsystem of the whole rocket) I really find it a stretch to call this rocket a self-built/student built rocket. If you bought some simple components like valves or bulkheads or got some of your parts manufactured for you I could get into calling this a self-built rocket, but the designing and manufacturing (and all the intellectual effort that goes into this) of your whole propulsion system is basically outsourced, this is a significant part of a rocket project!

    I get that you still have to do calculations for the recovery of your rocket. However all the other student teams trying to reach space with self built motors also have to do the exact same calculations as you did and on top of that they are also designing their own propulsion system! From personal experience I can tell that developing your own propulsion system is significantly more difficult than the development of all the other parts in a rocket and it is probably the biggest part of developing a rocket both in terms of cost and in terms of manpower required. In fact, I know of teams who spent more money on their motor development than your entire project cost! This means these teams did no only have to invest more manpower in their engine development, but also more manpower in their effort to get sponsors!

    By claiming your rocket to be self built while in fact you did not develop the most important subsystem of your rocket is putting your project in a category it does not belong in. I am not saying that this project is not difficult or not cool! However comparing this rocket with other student rockets who actually did built their own engine(s) is simply unfair. As an analogy, I am sure a company like SES does a thorough analysis of their spacecraft when they launch it on top of a Falcon 9, however to say that SES built the falcon 9 is ridiculous, they simply buy it. Therefore, yes I think this project is really cool, but to call this rocket a self-built rocket and to compare this project with some of the other student projects going on is simply a stretch and I think that should be pointed out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comment Manuel, if it was as easy as stated earlier, someone would have achieved this goal by now. I know the team have covered a lot of the aspects you mention, so now we just have to sit back see how it all goes. It is always great to see teams and projects pushing these boundaries, regardless of the outcome the experience gained would be invaluable.


  3. There is more to it than meets the eye! Just launching big motors is one thing, but surviving the flight (>Mach 3), recovering the rocket from that altitude(hitting the Atmosphere again with > Mach 2) and finding it afterwards are quite a challenge. A lot of things about this Rocket are thoroughly calculated, simulated and manufactured to spec or it will fail definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not really a self built rocket if they just buy two rocket motors and stick them together… You literally just buy a rocket and then claim its “self built”.



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