A communications and protocol error led to the rocket launching without the avionics system turned on.
It sounds like Traveller III may have reached space, but the chances of finding anything useful from a ballistic reentry may be slim if they find the rocket at all.
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.
I came across this ATVN news clip about the teams Graveler II static fire back at the end of February.
Video Caption: Students in the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory are back after setting a world record during their static fire rocket test in the Mojave Desert.
From the team’s website,
Launch planned for APRIL 2018
TRAVELER III will be USCRPL’s third attempt to launch a rocket to space. The rocket has a nominal predicted altitude of 415,000 ft, which will exceed the Karman Line, making USCRPL the first student group to launch a student built and designed rocket to SPACE!
This, of course, follows on from the recent successful static fire of the Graveler II engine.
Fingers crossed the third time is a charm!
The stats are in from the recent Graveler II rocket motor test by USCRPL,
It was a beautiful day on Saturday, Feb 17th 2018 when GRAVELER II, an 8-inch diameter, 80.5-inch long R-class solid rocket motor, was successfully fired, becoming the the largest successful composite case static fire by an amateur group based on total impulse! The motor delivered a total impulse of 42,000 lbf-sec,producing a maximum thrust of 4864 lbs.
Graveler II, short for “Ground Traveler,” was a static test of the rocket motor for the upcoming Traveler III space shot rocket. This test was a key milestone in the development of Traveler III, validating the motorcase and nozzle design while also providing important data to characterize the performance of the rocket motor.