“We have continuity. Alright, K1110 lightin’ up in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Ignition.” The bright red Archimedes, a prototype multistage rocket, shot into the air straighter than any launch current team members remembered. This past Saturday, November 15th, the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) took two of their project teams, the rocket competition team and the multistage team, to the CTRA launch field in Cobleskill, NY to test their rockets.
If you have ever been in the CEID on a Sunday afternoon, you will know that YUAA is one of the largest engineering clubs based out of the CEID. YUAA takes on a number of projects each year ranging from rockets and quadcopters to radio telescopes. The organization aims not only to accomplish advanced engineering goals, but also to promote aerospace at Yale and to teach its members – engineers and non-engineers alike – to make their ideas into reality. Since the first Sunday of September, all four YUAA of project teams have been meeting to learn about rocket, radio telescope, and UAV design, in order to build their own. Recently, the Radio Telescope Team finished their prototype dish using an azimuthal gear-based system powered by a stepper motor, and was able to tune in to a radio station. In the spring, they will be building a 2.6-meter diameter radio telescope with the goal of mapping hydrogen gas in the Milky Way Galaxy. The UAV Team will be flying their plane using an ardupilot, a sort of programmable autopilot, this Friday.
This past Saturday, it was time for the rocket teams to shine.
The Rocket Competition Team tested one of their two rockets, Skylark, which will compete in the Target Altitude event at the Battle of the Rockets in March. At the competition, the rocket will need to fly to as close to 1500 ft. as possible averaged over two flights, but for Sunday, the group aimed to test their design and make sure all systems were go. The rocket flew to 1,280 ft. on a G motor, close to the predicted 1,390, especially for a gusty day. The gold rocket was a little bit difficult to find in the surrounding winter cornfields, but was recovered safely thanks to fully functional parachute deployment and altimeters.
The Multistage Team launched Archimedes in order to test deployment and separation systems for the final multistage rocket they will build in the spring. A test for a two-stager, the sleek 9 ft. rocket has two-finned section that will eventually hold two separate motors, igniting one after another to reach higher altitudes. On just one motor, the rocket reached 2,400 ft. The bottom section, which was recording video, was recovered safely after its parachutes deployed as expected. Due to a problem with the power in the altimeter, the second stage’s chutes did not deploy. However, the rocket was well constructed and remained relatively undamaged and still flyable, despite quite the fall. The team was able to gain valuable insights for the construction of their final rocket from the launch, and recorded some amazing video footage in the process.
Preparing for the launch was not easy; in the past couple of weeks, as the teams made a push to finish their rockets, there was rarely an evening when the CEID was empty. In between laser cutting fins and bulkheads, drilling vent holes, and sanding couplers, the teams took advantage of a wide variety of the Center’s resources.
After a three-hour bus ride back from the launch field, the teams were exhausted, but happy. In seeing what for many of them was their first rocket launch, they knew their semester of work had paid off. The teams look forward to more engineering in the spring!
YUAA is always open to new members. To learn more about the organization or how to join, visit yaleaerospace.com.