The Spaceport America Cup / Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition

Every year, college teams from all over the world converge on New Mexico’s Spaceport America for the Spaceport America Cup.

Here, teams are challenged to fly their rockets to either 10,000′ or 30,000′ carrying a 4 kg CubeSat form-factor payload, and must recover both rocket and payload in flyable condition.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work.

Most of the time, it does.

Teams launch their rockets with either Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) motors and electronics, or they can use Student-Research and Development (SRAD) equipment.  Teams can use solid, liquid, or hybrid motors.

Teams are scored based on how close they were to their target altitude, the overall quality of their rocket build, the amount of SRAD equipment, and the quality of their technical reports.

For the first two years I served as a competition judge, and this year (2019) I am a member of the launch operations team.  In this role, I am part of the team that performs pre-flight safety inspections and assesses the flight-worthiness of rockets after their recovery.

The competition is hosted by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association, in conjunction with Spaceport America.

High-Power Rocketry Certification

Working with the Spaceport America Cup inspired me to pursue High-Power Rocketry.

To use high-power rocket motors, you must undergo a three-level certification process, either under the auspices of the National Association of Rocketry, or the Tripoli Rocketry Association.  Each step enables you to use higher-power motors.  Along the way, you must demonstrate the ability to safely build and fly a rocket with increasingly higher-power motors, take a written test, and submit a formal certification package before attempting a Level 3 certification flight.  Here is a link to my Level 3 package.

Upon successful launch and recovery of my Level 3 rocket, I have now earned Level 3 certification under both NAR and TRA.

My rocket, “Endinning” reached an altitude of 13,374′ with a top speed of Mach 1.3