Since the conclusion of our last year, Cal Poly Space Systems has completed an overhaul of the propulsion system in our Kronheim rocket. Due to the national nitrous oxide shortage in early 2017, we were unable to complete all of our testing objectives and decided not to attend IREC. Our five test fires gave us very useful data, but we did not want to launch Kronheim without being sure of success. We are starting this year with much progress on the Kronheim rocket already completed. We redesigned our injector to optimize thrust, and have a tentative plan to complete a number of test fires before 2018. We have decided to keep HTPB and nitrous oxide as our chemical propellants, as the nitrous shortage will not affect us this year.
Our officer and lead corps is the most experienced group to lead the club in many years, and we expect swift progress in the completion of the Kronheim rocket. Much of our work thus far into the year has been in planning and preparing for our new members, as well as establishing a 2017-2018 timeline and schedule. We have split our new members into teams to design their cert rockets. We will attend the October Skies event in the middle of Fall Quarter to launch the certs in our annual egg launch competition.
On May 27, Cal Poly Space Systems conducted the first successful 2/3 duration test fire of the HM-7 Heavy hybrid motor. Using data from this test, we were able to build a thrust curve:
As expected with a 2/3 duration test fire, thrust drops at around ten seconds as nitrous oxide (our oxidizer) mixes with nitrogen (our pressurant). Stable combustion occurs for about 10 seconds, and is followed by approximately 5 seconds of unstable combustion. Additionally, the video (final phase of test begins at 23:45) provides a qualitative confirmation to our quantitative data. Average thrust over the entire test was about 520 pounds. We are very pleased with the results of this test!
This test fire is a significant step forward in our progress to IREC, and serves as a complement to our previous short duration test fire. The 2/3 duration test also demonstrates that our new HM-7 Heavy design can withstand temperatures and pressures associated with sustained stable combustion. We hope to conduct at least one more test fire before the final trip to IREC.
With Spring Break starting at Cal Poly we have good news to share about our IREC competition rocket development. We have completed multiple tests and have decided on the rocket name – CPSS will fly Kronheim at Spaceport America.
Multiple payload designs were considered in past months. The final decision is to develop a payload capable of collecting flight data for further development of the active guidance system. Payload design and manufacturing is mostly handled by the avionics team.
Payload bay CAD model
The recovery team finished mechanical design of the recovery system and started production of the main parachute. The team is preparing for a full system test, which will give us data to complete parachute sizing.
The system integration team has performed tensile testing of student made composite materials and has finalized design of the rocket structure. The fiberglass nose cone was manufactured a few weeks ago. Test flight honeycomb fins and the bulkhead are in production over break.
Tensile test results
With systems and recovery well on the way, we plan to perform a test flight at FAR on April 15, 2017. Goals of the flight include test of structural integrity of the rocket body, honeycomb fins and bulkhead, recovery avionics, and recovery mechanism. One of the major objectives is to observe shock during main chute deployment, the data will be used to finalize size of the competition drogue parachute.
The propulsion team finally has a hydrostatic test procedure approved by University Environmental Health and Safety, thanks to our Student Safety Officer Chris Young. The combustion chamber was successfully tested to a Factor of Safety of 3, and the nitrous tank will be tested next week.
HM7-Heavy test fire assembly
Ground Support team has been making final changes to the system. We have significantly improved safety by adding 3 relief valves and 4 pressure sensors in the GS box. Final modifications are planned to be completed in upcoming week.
Both Propulsion and GS are looking forward to perform a test fire in first few weeks of the Spring Term. Follow our youtube channel for test fire videos.
The second term of 2016-17 academic year has started and CPSS has some good progress to show. We are well on track for #ESRA 2017 Spaceport America Cup in June.
Avionics team has developed recovery board, manufactured hardware for the active guidance system, and well on the way to perform flight test in next 7 weeks.
Recovery team has completed separator device, which is going to be flight tested with Avionics. They are also about to finish design of the parachute, materials for which will be purchased in upcoming week.
Ground Support has completed new design for the system, as well as purchased required components. GS-Rocket interface has been redesigned as well, implementation of new quick disconnects is under way.
System Integration team has been focused on developing a new technique for manufacturing and attaching the fins that will not interfere with the integration of the propulsion system. New design employs honeycomb composite structure. The manufacturing of test fins took place over last weekend. The fins were tested last Friday (January 20th) for strength to assist the Recovery Team in determining parachute size an allowable impact velocity. A similar honeycomb design will be used for the bulkhead to support the loads from the parachute, and the centering rings for the N2 tank and parachute tubes.
Propulsion team has manufactured all major components of HM-7 Heavy over Christmas Break. Nitrous tank and combustion chamber are ready for hydrostatic test. Nozzle and injector are ready for test fire. All active plumbing components have been purchased and have arrived. Rest of the plumbing has been purchased as well. With a major setback of the timeline due to issues with hydrostatic test procedures approval, team has to delay short duration test fire by time unknown at the moment. Even with the setback, propulsion is still on track for launch in June.
CPSS is looking forward to upcoming testing. We have done a lot of manufacturing in past three month and we are looking forward to test every component of the system in next 12 weeks.
Last weekend November 5, 2016 CPSS went to the launch site of the Friends of Amateur Rocketry for the Annual Egg Recovery Competition. The launch was a final step of a five week design challenge. Six teams of new members, each lead by one experienced rocketeer, have launched their certs. Through the day we had a chance to see multiple successful take offs, recovered rocket bodies, and cracked eggs. 2016 champion is Beefy5layer, with total score of larger then zero.
2016-17 launch season is officially open. More launches are to come in December, March, and June!
Cert team been briefed on safety
On September 3 Cal Poly Space Systems went to Mojave Desert to launch Uncle SAM – our 2016 IREC rocket. The rocket was successfully ignited, left the launch pad, and followed a straight path up to about 6,000 ft.
Uncle SAM on launch rail just an hour before take-off
Cal Poly Space Systems conducted a successful full duration test fire of Hybrid Motor 7. The oxidizer pressure was too low, leading to decreased thrust at the end of the burn.
The design parameters of this engine are:
Thrust: 400 lbs
Burn time: 12 s
Fuel: Hydroxyl Terminated Polybutadiene (HTPB)
Oxidizer: Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Check out the burn here.
The drogue parachute was tested behind the wind tunnel at 100 mph. The deployment was successful and the video is available here.
Cal Poly Space System’s successfully tested the separation device for apogee deployment of the drogue parachute. The mechanism uses a pyrotechnic charge to shear 8 nylon machine screws. The system will be flown on May 7 at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in the Mojave Desert.
Check out the video here.