Phase IV: Cascade

Our Phase IV rocket has been the primary focus of our club for the past few years and for the following few as well. Phase IV integrates designs from all sections of our club such as our Kerolox Tacoma propulsion system currently being developed by the Propulsion Department, in-house machined and welded tanks by the Structures Department, and hand designed avionics hardware and software by the Avionics Department.

In order for Phase IV to meet the quality set by Student Space Systems members not only is Phase IV be designed over a period of at least five years, multiple small-scale projects are being run concurrently to improve our design capability on smaller scales. Our Molehill engine is currently being developed as a small-scale test engine to provide the Propulsion department with experience testing and converting a test engine to a flight engine. Molehill will accompany the Rapid Reuse rocket once it is flight ready. Rapid Reuse is our testbed for all hardware, be it avionics boards or even pneumatic systems in order to inform our design on flight conditions.

Phase III: Olympus 

Named after the Olympus Range on the borders of Macedonia and Thessaly, Olympus is SSS’s highest flying rocket yet. As SSS’s transition from amateur rocketry to launch vehicle engineering, Phase III was designed as a minimum diameter aluminum-bodied rocket with the sole intent of achieving maximum altitude.

Launched on March 5th 2016 from Friends of Amateur Rocketry in the Mojave Desert, Olympus reached an altitude of 36,000 ft AGL. While we stopped receiving GPS data from our primary telemetry link at apogee, our auxiliary tracking payload allowed us to follow the rocket to its landing site 8 miles downrange. Olympus is now on display at SSS’s Rocket Design and Fabrication Laboratory.

Phase II: Sierra

Named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Sierra was SSS’s first custom designed and built rocket. Constructed primarily out of fiberglass and standing nearly 11 ft tall, Sierra was designed to fly to altitudes above 10,000 ft. The rocket was outfitted with a payload bay, which was initially outfitted with a variety of sensors. Commercial 900 MHz modems were used to in conjunction with member-designed axial mode helical antennas to broadcast telemetry.

Sierra flew its initial test flight in December of 2014 with an undersized engine. This flight was a picture-perfect launch, and achieved an altitude of 6,421 ft AGL.

Sierra’s next planned flight was in May of 2015 on a commercial M-class motor. Unfortunately, Sierra suffered a catastrophic motor failure less than a second into the flight. While the damage to the airframe was cosmetically repairable, we decided to retire the rocket. After analyzing recovered components of the motor in conjunction with experts in rocket propulsion, we determined that manufacturing error in the motor was the most likely cause of the failure. Sierra is now on display at SSS’s Rocket Design and Fabrication Laboratory.

Phase I: Ozark

Named after the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, Ozark was Student Space Systems’ first rocket. Built and flown at a time when SSS still had less than 10 members, the goal of Phase I was to introduce the club to concepts in amateur rocketry. A commercially bought kit, Ozark launched successfully to an altitude of 4,500 ft with a perfect dual deployment recovery. Ozark is now on display at SSS’s Rocket Design and Fabrication Laboratory.