New Mexico Tech tests rocket at Spaceport America

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Spaceport officials announced the April 18 launch of the New Mexico Tech Rocket Design Team’s experimental rocket. The nearly 10-foot-long experimental rocket was designed and built by the students in the Mechanical Engineering Department at New Mexico Tech. The launch took place from Spaceport America’s vertical launch area. The student rocket lifted off at 8:03 a.m. which was within the dedicated launch window and flight data indicates the rocket attained its predicted 11,500-foot altitude, according to Spaceport officials.

“Spaceport America is very excited to be working with New Mexico Tech engineering students as they design, build and launch their new rocket,” said Spaceport America Director of Aerospace Operations Dr. Bill Gutman. “We’re proud to provide launch services for ground-breaking experiments like this and to be able to provide technical assistance.”

The launch was part of a program at New Mexico Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Department that requires each student to participate in an intensive design team activity, a requirement for graduation from the school’s engineering program. The rocket carried instruments to measure parameters associated with the rocket’s performance and carried two experimental flight computers developed by the school’s Electrical Engineering Department. The 40-pound rocket reached a top speed of approximately Mach 0.8. With the exception of the motor, essentially every element of the rocket is the work of the students who will also be analyzing the in-flight data to validate if their rocket design met their performance expectations.

“We look forward to coming back and launching more of our student-designed launch projects in the future at Spaceport America,” said Warren Ostergren, vice president of academic affairs at New Mexico Tech. “We are very pleased with the dedicated hard work and professionalism of our students and their faculty advisers. We appreciate the technical input and support of Spaceport America and their contractor, White Sands Research and Developers.”

Christine Anderson, CEO of Spaceport America, said, “Helping develop and facilitate educational programs like today’s launch is part of Spaceport America’s overall mission and its commitment to the residents of New Mexico.”

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©2015 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

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