The team from the University of Southern California Rocket Propulsion lab (USCRPL) plan to launch their Traveler III solid rocket to the Karman line this weekend (29th), this will be the team’s third attempt.
Let us take a look back at the previous launches.
Traveler I was launched in 2013, unfortunately, 3.5 s into flight and at 4000 ft altitude, the rocket had a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly). The cause was backside burning of the propellant, where the propellant in contact with the case had been improperly inhibited causing a chamber pressure to increase until the case failed.
Traveler II launched in 2014, once again aiming for space, utilising a carbon fibre motor case, the rocket exploded after ignition at approximately 4000 ft. The motor case had shredded at the reinforced bidirectional section, the location of the forward bulkhead.
The team went back to the drawing board and have since carried out successful ground tests of the Graveler II rocket motor (ground test motor for Traveler III) and launched their Fathom II rocket to 144,000 ft and recovered it successfully in 2017. From a component level, it looks like the team has everything aligned and sorted for another space shot. So here is wishing them the best of luck on Saturday, they deserve this win.