Traveler IV Reaches Space!

Congrats to the team at USCRPL, whose Traveler IV rocket reached 339,800 ft (103.6 km) on April 21st from Spaceport America, becoming the first ever student rocket to reach and exceed the recognised boundary of space, 328,084 ft (100 km).

For all you wondering how they determined the peak altitude, the team have published a white paper explaining their sensor package and ultimately how they were able to determine apogee with a 90% confidence, you can read the paper here.

A blog post of the flight can be found here.

Video Caption: On April 21, 2019, we, the USC Rocket Propulsion Lab, launched our latest space-shot rocket, Traveler IV, out of Spaceport America. Traveler IV reached an apogee of 339,800 ft with a confidence of 90% of having crossed the internationally-recognized border between Earth’s atmosphere and space known as the Kármán line. By flying higher than the Kármán line, Traveler IV has broken the world record for the highest altitude ever reached by a vehicle entirely designed and built by a collegiate rocketry team. USCRPL thanks the alumni, faculty, department staff, parents, the university, and all others who have supported the lab’s fourteen-year-long dream.
Even greater things lie ahead.

the full data analysis and check out more information in the following links: Apogee analysis white paper:…
USCRPL blog post:…
WIRED article:…

Keep an eye out for the full-length documentary coming soon! — About us: USCRPL is the world’s premier undergraduate research group for experimental rocket technologies. Founded in the 2004-2005 school year with the mission of putting a scratch-built rocket into space, USCRPL has spent the last 14 years becoming a world leader in the design, manufacturing, and testing of small, low-budget, high-performance rockets. RPL’s members are all undergraduates, but alumni work across the space industry at organizations such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and NASA, as well as RPL alumnus-founded startups like Relativity Space, Ursa Major Technologies, and 121C.

USCRPL Aiming for Space Once Again

This will be the 2nd student space shot attempt for 2019 that I know of, and USCRPL’s 4th try. Read about the team’s previous attempts here and here.

USC RPL 18/19 Trailer


Traveler III In-depth Recap

As reported earlier Traveler III from USCRPL launched on September 29th, 2018 to become the first student-built rocket to reach space. Unfortunately, the avionics package was not switched on prior to launch so recording and recovery were not possible.

The team has written a full recap of the launch attempt.

With the igniter inserted and the pad cleared, a team waited at the ignition table, while the avionics team worked to activate the unit and resolve any last-minute issues. Due to a miscommunication between these two teams, an “Avionics hold” was misheard over the radios as an “Avionics go”. Thus, Traveler III was launched with no warning to the Avionics team, and the vehicle ascended off the pad without the payload placed into a state that would transmit data or deploy the recovery systems…

…However, the lack of a recovery system meant that this rocket was now ballistic, and the distinct sound of a sonic boom from its reentry was heard across the playa around 5 and a half minutes after launch, as the simulations predicted from a ballistic flight.

USCRPL has been trying for so long to reach space so to have this outcome must have been pretty demoralising. The rocket on the upside was eventually found,

…Some kind souls from around Black Rock messaged RPL that they had potentially found the rocket and, after a long return to the playa, a team scavenged and found the remnants of the vehicle. Traveler III, now in countless pieces, was found in one centralized location, indicating that the vehicle remained intact through descent until it hit the ground…

…no data was recovered from the passive Avionics system or the Go Pro cameras on-board.

As predicted, the rocket would have reached space,

…The location of where the rocket was found, combined with the simulations and observation of a full motor burn, indicates that the vehicle did in fact pass the Kármán line and ascended over 370,000 feet…

Traveler IV is now in full swing and will once again attempt a space shot in Spring of 2019. With the lessons learned from this launch, I am adamant USCRPL will reach space and become the first university team to do so.