Monday, May 27, 2019

USC Student Rocket Propulsion Laboratory Sets New Altitude Record

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


   A group of undergraduates from the University of Southern California (USC) have announced the launch of what is likely the first-ever student designed and built rocket to pass the Kármán line into outer space.
    Internal analysis of the system of the student's rocket Traveler IV shows that the vehicle reached an altitude of 340,000 feet with a margin of error of +/- 16,800 feet. “We can say with 90 percent certainty that RPL’s latest spaceshot, Traveler IV, passed the Kármán line, the recognized boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space,” said Neil Tewskbury, lead operations officer at RPL.
    The students launched their rocket on April 21 at 7:30 AM local time from New Mexico's Spaceport America reaching a top speed of 3,386 mph (5,449 km/hr). Traveler IV rapidly accelerated at over 17g's over the course of its 11.5 second motor burn, then cruised the remaining 140 seconds before reaching its maximum altitude.
    RPL's avionics system is custom-designed and built by RPL's team of over 80 undergraduates. This system allowed for the recording of the flight using its onboard sensors and the deployment of the vehicle's parachutes at apogee.
    Looking forward, RPL has set its sights on its next mission: a liquid-fuelled rocket that will shatter its own respective world record. In addition, conceptual work has begun on ambitious projects such as CubeSat deployment, active rocket stabilization and new solid engine designs.
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Image Credit: Neil Tewksbury/USC

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