The Michigan Aeronautical Science Association (MASA) team will be competing in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition in Green River, Utah this week, launching their student designed, built and tested rocket to a hopeful 21,000 feet.
MASA is a key organization in Michigan Aerospace’s student group scene. For nearly a decade, it has provided students with the opportunity to explore and expand their understanding of propulsion, avionics and airframe design. Last year, the team placed top 10 at the intercollegiate competition in the Basic category, with the objective of reaching as close to 10,000 feet (without exceeding) as possible.
This year, the team will compete in the Advanced category, with the goal of reaching 23,000 feet and the added challenge of designing and testing their own rocket motor. The fiberglass rocket, which will stand nearly 15 feet tall, will be a “hybrid” design, as Robyn Hinchman, MASA President, explains:
“Our rocket will use a combination of solid fuel and liquid oxidizer. There are a few benefits to this engine. It’s safer [than a traditional solid rocket booster] because the oxidizer flow can be turned off if something goes wrong. This flow control means that the engine can be throttled, and the solid fuel we use, [paraffin wax], is easier to obtain than a liquid propellant like liquid oxygen. Overall, it’s more conducive to a student team environment.”
For Robyn, the experience she gained with rocketry and propulsion through MASA has provided her with experience that facilitated her internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, where I spoke with her:
“Right now, I’m working on a few different projects in my group. One of them is a hybrid rocket design. Because of my work with MASA, I can actually be [at NASA JPL] and feel like I know what I’m doing.”
Add “UMEngineering” on Snapchat to follow the MASA team during their competition.