MIT Rocket Team: P9100 Motor Test

What a way to start the year! MIT Rocket Team have certainly set the mark for others to follow with the test of their new P motor. Yielding a 15 % performance increase from last year’s tests, delivering a peak thrust of 12,632 N, specific impulse of 74,042 Ns over a burn time of 8 seconds. The motor is intended to power the team’s Hermes II rocket to ~86,000 ft, which will serve as the first stage for a space shot attempt in 2020.

Video Caption: This is the team’s third P motor test, and our most successful one to date. Using only 3 grains, the motor’s volume loading increased. The new propellant formula burned slower, and with better specific impulse. All combined, our various improvements yielded 15% higher performance than last year. We are preparing to fly this motor in March.…

Why Rocket Exhausts Look The Way They Do

I have read and been told, a good engineer can tell a lot about how the rocket engine is running by just looking at the exhaust.
Scott Manley goes into some good detail on why rocket engine exhausts look the way they do.

Video Caption: Why does the exhaust from the Space shuttle boosters & engines look completely different? There’s a huge variety in the appearance of rocket exhausts because different fuels, different technologies and different environments make them behave in a different manner.

P-13000 Failure

Big ups to the MIT Rocket Team team for posting this and sharing their experience. We can all learn from this, but most importantly no one was hurt or injured. A testament to having good safety protocols in place.
Looking forward to seeing the issues resolved, and future testing carried out.

Video Caption: At T+ 2.9s a combination of insufficient grease, poor polyurethane application, and inconsistent assembly technique lead to a catastrophic burn through of the thermal liner in the middle of grain 4.

The motor self extinguished at the catastrophic loss of pressure, but the propellant which remained in the motor reignited several seconds later due to residual heat.

This test did not endanger any people. Always use care when testing rockets.

MIT Rocket Team P19000 Motor Test

The MIT Rocket Team recently tested their first ‘P’ class rocket motor (Wikipedia has a good table on the class ranges) at the end of February.

… This test produced 65,077 Ns at a peak pressure of 1440 psi and 22,970 N of thrust.

For all my imperial unit readers, that is 5163lbf of thrust, but the test did not go entirely to plan with the motor ejecting several thermal liners during the burn.
The team states,

…As the design pressure and thrust of this motor were greatly exceeded, we think it likely that aluminum combustion (triggered by the increased residency time in a longer motor) lead to the unplanned increase in burn rate, the increase in combustion pressure, and then triggered the cascade of failures.

The motor did well to hold up, of which I look forward to the next test. This size motor will propel the teams Hermes rocket to 80,000ft in June at Spaceport America.

You can read the team’s full update here.

USCRPL Graveler II Static Fire

Of note, this was the largest composite case static test fire (total impulse) by an amateur group.

USCRPL Static Fire Test

Video Caption: Third times the charm! Aft burn throughs at the forward and aft end of the case, USCRPL designed and built a successful solution to their motor insulation problem!

A great success after two earlier attempts, good to see the team found and remedied the problem!


RML Spacelab Working On and Upwards

A lot of news coming out of Peter Madsen’s RML Spacelab lately, all geared towards launching rockets and eventually himself to space from Malta.

As reported earlier in the year, Peter and his team have been perfecting Galcit solid rocket motors and are now at a point where flight qualification testing of the motors is complete (Source – These smaller motors, with a diameter of 220mm will propel a test rocket from Malta next year, a video of the most recent round of testing is shown below.

To be able to launch this rocket and many more from Malta, a new ocean-going launch platform is currently under construction, having to fit inside a shipping container in order to get to Malta, Peter has come up with a very nifty triangle design.

Ocean launch platform (Credit: RML Spacelab/Peter Madsen)

Consisting of 3 outrigger pontoons and one central pontoon, the platform will be initially capable of launching a rocket of up to 3.5 ton. Work has started on the 3 main girders as shown below,

With this consistent pace, next year looks to be an exciting one for Peter and his team.