Amateur Rocket Records Shattered by Embry-Riddle Students

Category Engineering

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A group of students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have successfully shattered records by launching an amateur rocket to a breathtaking altitude of 47,732 feet (14,548 meters), more than double the height of Mount Everest. This achievement is a true testament to determination and hardwork, with the team investing over 4,000 hours of work to the project. The inspiring launch was met with awe and admiration, and set the bar high for the future of amateur rocketry.

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In a stunning display of engineering prowess and unwavering determination, a group of students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has shattered records by launching an amateur rocket to a breathtaking altitude far surpassing the height of Mount Everest.

On April 16, their small rocket, aptly named Deneb after a star in the constellation Cygnus, soared to a maximum height of 47,732 feet (14,548 meters) – an astonishing 1.6 times higher than the iconic Himalayan peak.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is located in Prescott, Arizona.

The achievement, which left witnesses in awe, not only pushed the boundaries of amateur rocketry but also more than doubled the previous record set by undergraduate and collegiate amateurs in the United States. The team's feat surpassed the previous record of 22,000 feet (6,706 meters) and solidified their place in the annals of student rocketry history.

The students from Embry-Riddle's Prescott, Arizona campus dedicated over 4,000 hours of intensive work to the construction, testing, and launch of Deneb. The program employed 26 students, 6 faculty/support staff and 8 working professionals. Measuring 6.3 feet (1.7 meters) tall and 0.61 feet (0.19 )meters wide, the craft featured a mix of 3D-printed parts and off-the-shelf components.

The rocket launch went off successfully on April 16, 2023.

The laborious journey resulted in a breathtaking flight that left one student, Dalton Songer, overcome with emotion. "I fell to my knees, sobbing, from witnessing such an incredible feat," Songer said, reflecting on the collective effort that went into the project.

The awe-inspiring launch took place in California's Mojave Desert, where the team faced numerous challenges and three previous launch attempts. The relentless pursuit of their goal forced the entire team to camp for an additional night in the desert, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to success.

Deneb is a star in the constellation Cygnus.

During the 26.1-second flight, Deneb effortlessly broke the sound barrier, achieving a speed of Mach 1.5 (1,150 mph or 1,850 kph). The rocket's sonic boom reverberated across the desert, leaving a mark on the memories of those fortunate enough to witness it firsthand.

Elliott Bryner, Embry-Riddle's director of the propulsion laboratory and rocket test complex, praised the team for its extraordinary accomplishments.

The rocket measured 1.7 metres in length and 0.19 metres in diameter.

--- On the road to more achievements --- .

Several graduating students have already secured full-time positions at esteemed organizations such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Firefly Aerospace, highlighting the recognition and respect garnered by the Embry-Riddle students within the industry.

The project was a collective effort that received significant contributions from various sources. Companies like Firefly and Lockheed Martin generously donated to the cause, recognizing the immense potential and ingenuity displayed by the students. Additionally, other students devoted a staggering 3,000 hours through the RDL, further exemplifying the collaborative spirit that propelled Deneb to new heights.

The program employed 26 students, 6 faculty/support staff and 8 working professionals.

Zoe Brand, a team member responsible for testing Deneb's engine, shared valuable insights gained from a previous rocket called Altair. Brand highlighted the importance of weight reduction, stating, "Altair was very heavy. So, we deliberately focused on making our rocket lighter by integrating the propellant tanks into the structural rigidity of the rocket." This knowledge proved invaluable in the successful launch of Deneb.

The companies FireFy and Lockheed Martin have donated resources and funds for the project.

While other amateur efforts have reached even higher altitudes, bordering on the edge of space itself, the achievement of the Embry-Riddle students stands out within their class of amateur rocketeers. The team has set the bar for future generations, leaving huge expectations for the upcoming era of amateur rocketry.

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