Year's End

Now that the fall 2012 semester is over, let's review RPL's activities over the past year and look ahead to what's in store for 2013.

In 2012, RPL carried out three flights of full-scale lab projects, as well as eight flights of smaller certification and testbed rockets. We fired our first hybrid motor, as well as our first filament-wound motor case, and also conducted a flight with a wound case. We developed a new nosecone material for Traveler, and tested it in flight; Traveler is now about 95% ready for launch, which we expect to occur later in 2013.

Pictures of SixyBack from construction to launch are on our Picasa page. The official launch video:

The rocket is still in temporary storage in the desert, so 2013 will begin with a search for it, based around the GPS pings we received during flight.


Lab projects for next semester will likely include a series of static fires to test new filament winding techniques as well as propellant formulations. We want to fly a two-stage rocket, something the lab has not done since Double Double in 2007. Our initial design studies are considering an 8" booster and 6" sustainer, with an altitude cap of 50,000' so we can fly at the MTA. It will be another stubby rocket.

In addition to these major projects, RPL is pursuing a number of research efforts. Among them are:
  • Strand burner testing of our propellant to more fully characterize it
  • Developing techniques for casting star grains
  • Experimenting with cast rubber liners instead of phenolic
  • Design studies for a methane and nitrous oxide liquid engine
  • Developing a more sophisticated burn code
  • Continuing the development of our airborne tracking and relay platform
  Flight on in 2013!