Rocket Team Works on Improvements for Competitions

The UMN Rocket Team is a student group that designs, builds, and flies high-powered rockets, participating in competitions and breaking personal records. Every year, they compete in the IREC, the Bayer Alka-Rocket Challenge, and the Midwest Regional Rocketry Competition.

The Rocket Team encompasses seven different sub teams and the GOPHER (Grand Opening Project to Help Educate Rocketeers) program, which is designed to help new members learn the basics of designing and building rockets. The new prospective students in the GOPHER program are currently working on designing small introductory rockets in order to learn the basics of the many systems that go into designing more advanced rockets.

They won first place at the Space Grant Midwest High-Power Rocket Competition on May 18 and 19. Their rocket, which was called Cesium Black, had two different end goals. The first was to reach the highest altitude possible, and the second was to break the sound barrier but stay at the lowest altitude possible. With this win, the Rocket Team swept the board last year in their three main competitions.

They set the Guinness World Record for launching an Alka-Seltzer fueled rocket 429 feet in the air at the 2017 Bayer Alka-Rocket Challenge, and followed up the next year by placing first again. The Alka team is working to defend their two consecutive championships in the Alka Rocket challenge by making design changes to increase reliability and improve performance. 

This past June, the Rocket Team won first place in their category at the Spaceport America Cup (SAC). They started this year by working on upgrades for their rocket, and focusing on making more in-house parts. The upgrades included using a new propellant formula to make the rocket motor more powerful, and experiments with vacuum bagging techniques to decrease the weight of the rocket without hindering the strength of the outer tubes that serve as the structure.

In addition, the avionics sub team worked on their own upgrades by developing a new modular and more flexible flight computer, and has constructed an antenna tower to get more reliable radio signals from the rocket before launch and during the flight.