Campus Views: Kent State High Power Rocket Team soars to new heights

Savannah Vinkler, Guest Columnist

The Kent State High Power Rocket Team, also known as Golden Flashes Rocketry, began in 2016 and has successfully launched a competition rocket every year since. The team consists of two sectors: senior aerospace engineering students in the Aircraft Design capstone course and the club side. The capstone seniors are appointed by the advisor as technical leads (i.e. the point people for that subsection) for our rocket’s subsections while any Kent State student is able to join the club portion of the team as general members, leads-in-training (also referenced as club-side leads) and officers.

Courtesy of Golden Flashes Rocketry

Designing, constructing and flying rockets require all hands on deck! To aid in the process, the rocket is divided into five subsections: avionics, aerostructure, payload, propulsion and safety. The following breaks down the responsibilities of each subsection:

  • Avionics: GPS systems, altimeters and electronics bay in rocket.
  • Aerostructure: Aerodynamics analysis of rocket body, nose cone, fins and assembly.
  • Payload: Designs and constructs a functional object that fits within the rocket to complete a mission set forth by the competition.
  • Propulsion: Designs, mixes, assembles and tests rocket motors/engines.
  • Safety: Hazard analysis, safety documentation and testing procedures.

Each subsection is necessary in order to have a cohesive and well-designed rocket that provides the team with a competitive advantage.

The Spaceport America Cup is the world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering conference and competition. It began in 2017 and since then, students and faculty from more than 150 institutions across the world compete in a part academic conference and design-build-fly style competition. It has something to offer students, faculty, industry representatives and amateur aerospace enthusiasts alike. Teams compete in a variety of categories depending on motor type and rocket launch altitude. For example, teams can choose between the 10k or 30k apogee and choose between Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) or Student Researched and Developed (SRAD) motors. The competition also allows for a hybrid motor class which is a part liquid part solid motor. The 2022 Spaceport America Cup was held in Southern New Mexico with over 140 teams participating from over 20 countries across the world.

Courtesy of Golden Flashes Rocketry

Last year, the High Power Rocket Team was accepted into the Spaceport America Cup to compete in the 10k SRAD category. Throughout the year, 20 team members developed a rocket design and manufactured the payload, airframe, avionics system and motor from scratch with the aid of our mentor Steve Eves. The team conducts motor burns, ejection tests and test launches to ensure the rocket is prepared for competition while also following proper build procedures. Eight members of the team traveled in a van to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to compete in the Spaceport America Cup. The members were:

  • Mitchell Bird, ‘22, B.S. Aerospace Engineering
  • Jared Casey, ‘22, B.S. Aerospace Engineering
  • Ean Hudspeth, ‘21, B.S. Information Technology – Cybersecurity and Forensics Concentration
  • Sydney Maller, Junior, Aerospace Engineering major, Sustainability minor
  • Autumn Ohl, Sophomore, Aerospace Engineering major, Physics minor
  • Isaac Samodell, Senior, Aerospace Engineering
  • Savannah Vinkler, Sophomore, Cybersecurity Engineering
  • Matthew Zirckel, ‘22, B.S. Aerospace Engineering

Due to limited funding, the team stayed and finished the final touches on the rocket at a local state park. With many late nights and multiple attacks by beetles, the team’s hard work eventually paid off, and Golden Flashes Rocketry placed first overall in their category and eighth out of 140 teams. The team’s rocket flew to an apogee of 9,648 ft and reached speeds of Mach 1. This was a huge accomplishment for the team since this was the largest competition they have competed and placed in.

Courtesy of Golden Flashes Rocketry

The Kent State High Power Rocket team still has limited funding, and is looking for sponsorships. If you are interested in sponsoring Golden Flashes Rocketry, please contact us! Sponsorships go directly to the team to fund materials, equipment and travel for team members – the more funding the more of us can go! Sponsors can receive our competition shirt with their logo printed on the back, their logo on our rocket and their name on our time capsule inside the rocket depending on the amount sponsored.

Are you interested in getting involved? Contact us!

Instagram: @ksurocket

Email: [email protected]

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 Savannah Vinkler is a guest columnist from the Kent State student group Golden Flashes Rocketry. Contact her at [email protected]