Stevens Rocketry Program Launches Two Experiments into Lower Space

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HOBOKEN, NJ, -- July 1st, 2017:   On June 22, 2017 at 5:30 AM, two experiments developed at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. were launched 75 miles into space by NASA. The launch was the culmination of a yearlong project by nine students and their faculty advisors.  The project consisted of analyzing, designing, building, testing, redesigning, rebuilding, and retesting a sounding rocket payload.

The launch occurred at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore (Delmarva Peninsula) of the Virginia coast. The experiments were launched with stacked out-of-service military rockets: a 25 year old Army rocket is placed atop a 15 year old Navy rocket and the two are fired sequentially. This system allows for relatively low-cost access to space for experimentation. Project managers Arun Aruljothi, Doug Sholander, and Jesse Stevenson stated, “We may have spent countless weekends in the lab constructing the payload, and finally we got to watch NASA send something we built into space. Totally Worth It.”  To see an unofficial video which tracks the rocket, click here: https://youtu.be/gxOLMkA8mLA. To see the official NASA launch video click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69QceCuTojs

The payload designed and assembled by the group contains two experiments:

  •  The first project, measures the high speed pressure waves on the skin of the rocket. It does this using off the shelf low cost electronics to sample at a rate of 2 MHz. The pressure waves will be used to analyze the transition from laminar to turbulent boundary, air flow.
  • The second experiment is a project to isolate mechanical vibrations due to rocket launches, from a small internal payload. The goal is to determine the best methodology for mounting sensitive electronics that would normally be damaged during a rocket launch. Two accelerometers are mounted, using a variety of materials, to passively dampen the frequencies encountered during launch, a third accelerometer is mounted to an active stabilization mechanism, and a fourth accelerometer is a control for the experiment. By comparing graphs of amplitude vs. frequency of the recorded results, the best method of the four will be determined.

The RockSat-C program actively mentors  students through a full engineering design process life cycle, leading them through the design phase in the Fall semester (Conceptual Design Review, Preliminary Design Review, and Critical Design Review), and coaching  the teams through Testing and Integration Reviews as well as the Launch Readiness Review in the Spring.  The RockSat-C manager also helps the teams with integration and launch at Wallops Flight Facility! The program, is coordinated by The Colorado Space Grant Consortium while the Stevens team was sponsored by The New Jersey Space Grant Consortium under the auspices of Dean Siva Thangam at Stevens. The team wishes to thank their advisor Professor Joseph S. Miles, Professor Nicholas Parziale as well as Mr. Milan Simonovic.

Anyone interested in participating in the program next year, which begins Monday August 28th, 2017, please contact Dean Siva Thangam at sthangam@stevens.edu, Professor Joseph S. Miles jmiles@stevens.edu, or phone the NJ Space Grant Office (B107-West) at 201-216-8964.

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Picture #1: Stevens team assembled at the launch site: Left to Right: Sam Yakovlev, Jesse Stevenson, Stephen Kontrimas, Doug Sholander, Professor Joseph S. Miles, and Joshua Gross.  Students that were not present for the launch but that did a significant amount of work were: Arun Aruljothi, Aiden Aquino, Chris Blackwood, and Robert Fea.  In background: The rocket ready to launch.

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Picture #2: The team ready to leave for the rocket launch. Left to Right: Doug Sholander, Stephen Kontrimas, Professor Joseph S. Miles, Jesse Stevenson and Sam Yakovlev.  In the background: The Babbio Center

The Rock-Sat-C program began at Stevens during 2010 when Joseph S. Miles attended a Rock-On workshop at NASA Wallops Island.  The subsequent year he brought five Stevens students to the Rock-On program.  Their feedback was that Stevens should graduate to Rock-Sat-C immediately, and skip Rock-On and Stevens has been engaging a team of Rock-Sat-C students, since that time.  The Rock-Sat-C program is funded at the $20,000 level annually by the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium and is a national program collaboration by Colorado Space Grant Consortium, Virginia Space Grant Consortium and NASA with 10 to 12 participating universities from all over the country.

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