The A&M Sounding Rocketry Team exists to design, build, fly, and compete with a student built sounding rocket. During my time with the team I helped to design and develop a complex hybrid fuel rocket and many aspects of the accompanying infrastructure. Below I have outlined some specific projects I completed during my time with the team.
Static Engine Test Stand – Load Cell
The A&M sounding rocketry team uses a custom built static engine test cell to test and evaluate iterations of the hybrid rocket engine. In the past the team had experienced issues with the load cell mounting bracket. The team needed a bracket that would support the weight of the hanging rocket, withstand the high thrust forces of the rocket (in excess of 1000 ft/lbs), and could also compensate for any slight misalignments within the system. I created a design which successfully met all of these design criteria, and nearly tripled the factor of safety when compared to the previous design.
The sounding rocketry team uses a portable launch tower that can be assembled at the launch sight. The tower is raised using a winch and lever system. The previous system lacked control, and safety was a concern. Two areas of improvement were identified; the lift system and the frame. To address these issues, I designed a block and tackle system that was added to the existing design to increase the total lifting capacity, and reduce the rate of lift/fall. To add strength and rigidity to the tower frame, I welded diagonal cross bars into each level.
The hybrid rocket engine uses solid HTPB fuel and a NOS oxidizer. This HTPB must be cast into a hollow cylinder. HTPB starts as a viscous liquid and cures into a dense rubber. The casting process also needs to occur under a vacuum to eliminate the possibility of air voids. My design for a vacuum fuel casting rig is shown below.