SUU students launch rocket in international competition

By Kelsey Keener

CEDAR CITY–SUU’s engineering student club The RocketBirds participated in the 2018 Spaceport America Cup and placed fourth in the 10,000-foot Student Researched and Developed Motor category.

The RocketBirds were ranked 26th out of 99 teams, placing behind Ohio State University, West Virginia University and State University of Rio de Janeiro, which have engineering departments 15 times larger than SUU’s.

Seven SUU students traveled with associate professor of engineering Dr. Scott Munro and SUU President Scott L. Wyatt to a desert area outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. President Wyatt was offered the honor of pushing the button to ignite the rocket motor. In a press release, President Wyatt stated the club’s participation in this competition represents SUU well.

“The SUU RocketBirds’ performance at the 2018 Spaceport America Cup is an exceptional showing of our small program,” he said. “It was an honor to push the launch button and I can’t wait to participate again next year.”

The rocket launched by the RocketBirds was 75 pounds and 11.5 feet tall, constructed out of fiberglass. Computer simulations were run to ensure the rocket’s stability and performance, and it flew to an altitude of 7,600 feet above ground level.

This project included aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, electrical and testing operations. The rocket design was centered on a defined payload size, which allowed students to determine how big it needed to be.

Teams from colleges and universities from 12 countries participated in this year’s competition, with students launching solid, liquid and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 to 30,000 feet.

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