The MIT Rocket Team came in first place in the Basic (10,000 feet) category of the 2015 International Rocket Engineering Competition this June.
The team launched its rocket for the Experimental Sounding Rocketry Association's competition in Green River, Utah, along with representatives from 36 other universities from seven countries. It was the team's first time participating in the competition. The category required the students to launch a rocket to 10,000 feet, deploy a payload for a scientific mission of their own design, and provide deliverables throughout the year for judging and review.
As such, the team had been working on their competition rocket over the past year. They had initially been developing their own liquid rocket engine with an aerospike nozzle, but had to redesign the rocket in late January due to issues with engine testing. During spring semester, the team re-designed their rocket to accommodate a solid propellant motor. They also designed a payload intended to demonstrate roll rate control after separating from the main body at apogee. The team's first test launch forced the team to entirely rebuild their rocket due to a recovery failure, but the students saw their second test launch end successfully before the end of spring semester.
Ultimately, the rocket reached an altitude of 9,690 feet — extremely close to the original 10,000-foot goal. The team's recovery efforts were successful, and their payload appeared to deploy successfully. Videos and photos of our launch are available here. The deliverable components of the team's project also fared well, receiving high marks from the judges.
The team received support from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, faculty advisors, and mentors, as well as from sponsors including the MIT Edgerton Center. They are looking forward to learning more and developing new rocketry projects in the year ahead.