Rockets launch at Yale

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On Nov. 9, the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) successfully launched their prototype rocket, Artemis, at the Connecticut Tripoli Rocket Association launch site in upstate New York.

The 4,829-foot launch was in preparation for a national competition in June. Beyond the organization, YUAA alumni have branched out from the association to innovate with sustainable rocketry.

“We’re still constantly pushing our limits and learning new things,” said Ari Brill ’15, co-president of YUAA. “It’s all about pushing the frontier of rocketry at Yale.”

The team only started building Artemis at the beginning of the semester, said Bolun Liu ’16, head of the YUAA rocket competition team. He attributed Artemis’s successful launch to a lot of thoughtful planning on the part of the team.

The team built the rocket out of carbon fiber in the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design in the first floor of the Becton Center.

“I’m very impressed with the team and how they were able to design and build on such short notice,” said Liu, adding that the majority of the team members had never launched a rocket before.

The launch helped to prepare the team for the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) in June, Liu said. At that competition, the team hopes to launch the rocket more than 10,000 feet at faster than the speed of sound, Brill said.

Not all rocketry initiatives are shooting for competition wins. Former YUAA members Glen Meyerowitz ’14 and Patrick Wilczynski ’16 designed and successfully tested Yale’s first hybrid rocket engine this fall.

While traditional rocket engines use either solid or liquid fuel, these forms are more dangerous as solid-fuel rockets cannot be turned off and liquid-fuel rockets must be stored at extremely low temperatures and high-pressure environments, Meyerowitz said. Since hybrid engines use both types of fuel, they are both simpler and safer to build and fly, Wilczynski said. While they are not as powerful as traditional engines, Wilczynski said their practicality makes up for lagging in performance.

In addition to the hybrid engine, the duo also designed a hybrid rocket structure. While traditional rockets shed components of the structure during flight, which are no longer useable after a launch, the hybrid rocket will be designed with recoverable parts. The team plans to build the rocket structure soon and launch it along with the engine.

While Meyerowitz and Wilczynski do not anticipate developing the rocket commercially, they said hybrid technology will drive down the cost of space travel and make such trips more accessible to citizens.

The YUAA was founded in 2010.

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