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USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory Destroys Student Height Record – USC Viterbi



  RPL Traveler IV Launch

Students from USC's Rocket Propulsion Laboratory are preparing travelers IV for launch. PHOTO / COURTESY NEIL TEWKSBURY

With further reporting from Conor Hayes.

From the sparsely populated and solar dissolved desert campus of Spaceport America in New Mexico, weeks ago the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL) became the first bachelor team to design, build and successfully launch a single stage rocket past Kármán line, as reported by Dennis Smalling, RPL's chief student engineer.

A prominent student-runet and organized bachelor rocket laboratory at USC, RPL, was founded with the aim of launching and restoring the world's first fully student-designed and fabricated rocket into outer space. Kl. At 8.00 on April 21

, the Traveler IV passed the world high post for student rocket hold. Thus, RPL has more than doubled its previous record set by its own Fathom II in 2017, culminating in 15 years of development in experimental rocket launch and propulsion systems.

Reached 340,000 feet (with a margin of error of +/- 16,800 feet), it seems that they might have fulfilled their basic mission as well. "We can by 90 percent be sure that RPL's latest spaceshot, Traveler IV, passed the Kármán line, the recognized boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space," said Neil Tewskbury, RPL's lead operator.

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Fourth Time A Charm

After the failed fall launch of Traveler III in the Black Rock Desert, which left the rocket broken for small to To show, RPL members were cautiously optimistic. Due to the roar with the 8-inch diameter, 13-foot rocket outbursts of the launch tower could be heard gasps from spectators who had been ordered silently to allow communication between the operation team, the aviation team and the rocket itself. Everyone remembered Traveler III and the miscommunication problems that had wiped out the rocket in the Nevada desert last September.

But the fourth time was the charm.

Traveler IV rapidly accelerated over 17g to its top speed of 4970 ft / s, or Mach 5.1, during its 11.5 second engine burn, crossed the remaining 140 seconds until it reached its maximum height of 340,000 feet or 103 , 6 kilometers. The RPL's avionics system, specially designed and built by RPL's large team of student avionics engineers, recorded the flight using its built-in sensors and exploited the vehicle's parachutes to apogee so that the rocket could slip safely on the ground.

Total flight lasted for a triumphant 11 minutes.

Smalling, graduating from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in May, said, "Traveler IV was an incredible success for USC RPL. After nearly 15 years and over a million working hours, RPL has finally achieved its goal of being the first student group to launch the first student designed and built rocket past the Kármán line. "

He added:" This ability team to overcome setbacks and continually renew new technology has been inspirational. I am so proud of what this laboratory has achieved so far, and I'm incredibly excited to see where RPL goes from here. "

In response to hearing about RPL's successful April launch, USC Viterbi said Dean Yannis Yortsos," We are proud of the tradition and the indomitable spirit of Innovation and perseverance in the RPL teams over the years, this remarkable moment is a testament to their ingenuity and dedication, such learning experiences create a new breed of engineers who, like many of their RPs L-predecessors are ready to make a positive change in the world. "

USC RPL's Traveler IV was fully restored after its record-breaking flight. PHOTO / NEIL TEWKSBURY

Traveling to Space

As a visitor to RPL, the road to success is paved with Many failures: Traveler IV's spacehot predecessors Traveler I and Traveler II are among the missing rockets stretched from the lab's high ceilings, the former being a victim of a massive engine explosion in the middle of the flight, the latter tearing almost half of its filament-wound carbon fiber box.

These carcasses serve as learning struggles, why RPL's 90-plus students spend all hours of the day and night working under them, in a laboratory where students find space to spend classroom lessons in practical experience. In other words, with any disappointment, the RPL members found renewed motivation.

Journey to Traveler IV represented more d a decade of technological advances, process improvements and design changes, not to mention countless hours of spent building and enhancement of high-powered rockets of all shapes and sizes. During this time, RPL is known for its ability to transform advanced designs into real-life vehicles – a hotbed of recruitment to commercial space companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and RPL alumni-based startup, Relativity Space.

Traveler IV is the most technologically advanced vehicle that USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory has ever flown. Its record braking of 340,000 feet, +/- 16,800 feet, is based on a well-documented internal analysis. At present, there has been no independent external evaluation of these data.

Practical experience

RPL was founded in 2004 by student Ian Whittinghill for the purpose of launching and regaining the world's first fully student-designed and fabricated rocket past the Kármán line.

"RPL and other hands-on student groups are essential to give students an understanding and experience of how actual vehicles and systems work," said USC Viterbi's astronaut and space engineering and mechanical engineering professor, Dan Erwin, the group's first advisor.

The student team is currently advised by David Barnhart, USC Viterbi Research Assistant in Astronaut and Director of Space Engineering Research Center. "People often ask why USC urges students to participate in building amateur missiles," he said. "In addition to the incredible practical experience that translates what they learn in the classroom into a working rocket, it is typically the first time many have built and created something as big as a team. In fact, they do it themselves and take advantage of a unique introduction for astronautics gives incredible motivation and excitement that lasts their entire career. "

Looking forward, the RPL team does not waste any time. They have already begun design work on the next mission – a floating vehicle aimed at its own world record. In addition, they have begun conceptual work for increasingly ambitious projects such as CubeSat implementation, active rocket stabilization and new solid motif designs.

All this work continues under a new paradigm for members of the RPL, where heaven is no longer boundary.


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