2019 turned out to be another great year in the realms of amateur experimental rocketry, so without further ado let’s look at how 2019 shaped up.
The year of the student Spaceshots…again
The year kicked off with UC Aerospace (from New Zealand) attempting to launch their two-stage ‘Into The Black’ rocket to 100km in March, hoping to beat USCRPL and become the first student team to launch a rocket beyond the Karman line. Unfortunately, the 2nd stage encountered an ignition problem leaving the team short of their goal.
Come in USCRPL with their 4th space shot attempt and it looks like 4th time was a charm for the team. After 3 unsuccessful launches over the years, the team finally reached space with their Traveler IV rocket in April, thus becoming the first student team to launch a rocket beyond the Karman line. Traveler IV reached 103.5 km and was recovered successfully.
Once again Princeton Spaceshot made it to the pad again this year, this time with two identical rockets hoping for the chance one of them would reach space. The first launch at the end of May from Spaceport America was a success with the rocket being fully recovered, the second rocket was launched a few days later but the second stage failed to ignite.
Unfortunately, Princeton Spaceshot went quiet after these attempts, so either the rocket did not perform as planned or no data was recovered or maybe they just have not got around to filling us all in.
If any members read this, then drop me a line!
2019 also saw the return of the TU Wien Space Team to the Black Rocket Desert to launch their ‘Hound’ rocket with the hope of not only breaking the current European student altitude record but also to reach space. Unfortunately, the rocket broke apart at booster burnout and although the team had a backup rocket, without knowing the cause, did not launch it.
USCRPL remains the only student team have launched a rocket into space.
Liquid Fueled Rocket Palooza!
With the advent of the Base 11 Space Challenge, the FAR MARS Prize and the FAR DPF Challenge, the number of student teams building and firing liquid-fuelled rocket engines and rockets has increased dramatically. Not only are teams firing the conventional LOX/Kero, LOX/Ethanol engines but more and more are experimenting with LOX/LCH4 (Methane) engines. A part of this comes from the FAR MARS Prize where part of the prize money goes towards a team who flies a LOX/LCH4 rocket, as methane can be found on Mars, advances in these engines might end up helping crewed flight in the years to come.
To list a few of the teams (that have flown and or hot fired),
- CSULB Beach Launch Team – LOX/Jet-A
- ERAU RDL – LOX/Kero
- MASA – LOX/Ethanol
- Purdue SEDS – LOX/LCH4
- Rocket Project at UCLA – LOX/Ethanol
- SEDS UCSD – LOX/Kero
- SDSU Rocket Project – LOX/LCH4
- UBC Rocket – LOX/??
- UC Irvine Rocket Project – LOX/LCH4
- USC LPL – LOX/Kero
If I missed your team, drop me a line on the contact form!
All the rest!
Copenhagen suborbitals started to bend metal for their large crewed Spica rocket, I featured on a Claymin’ Space podcast talking all things rocketry, Joe from BPS Space flew his Falcon Heavy for the second time and made some epic silo launched rockets, DARE unveiled their Stratos IV rocket and continued engine testing, Charlie Garcia released a bunch of liquid rocket engine how-to videos, MIT Rocket team tested a P9100 solid-fueled rocket motor plus much more! Click the links on the side to find out what else everyone has been up to.
To 2020 and beyond
Having now graduated from university and working full time, amongst other things I have been finding it difficult to find time to keep my blog updated. I want to keep it updated in a sense of providing you the reader with more than just a copy/paste of a rocket update. I have been trying to figure out where to take it for the future, some ideas are more mechanically minded posts, possibly delve into the realm of ‘newspace’, more libraries of documents, so if you have any ideas of what you want or like to see then let me know on the contact form.
Thanks for all the support and here is to many more rocket launches in 2020!