Eagles Aim for Bigger Heights

Reece Cabanas, Correspondent

Modern discoveries and technological advances in the astronautics field have re-ignited a fiery passion in a handful of American university and college students. At the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott Campus, students from all grade levels (freshmen up to seniors) are researching and developing the next launch vehicle that will make their dreams reality. This group of ambitious rocketeers belong to Eagle Space Flight Team.

Eagle Space Flight Team, or ESFT for short, is an engineering research team dedicated to launching a student researched and developed rocket to space, as well as becoming a regular launch provider for educational, research, and business ventures. While not a primary goal, they are also striving to be the first collegiate team to achieve this, receiving funding from the Undergraduate Research Institute and guidance from advisor Dr. Julio Benavides in following this endeavor. ESFT is composed of five smaller groups, or sub-teams, that each focus on a specific role: Structures, Propulsion, Aerodynamics, Communications, and Electronics. Since its conception three years, the team has grown from a mere five members to just under a whopping 60.

Bryce Chanes, a senior in the Aerospace Engineering Astronautics program, is the current Project Manager and one of the founders of ESFT. “The idea of getting a rocket to space is exciting, but what we’re trying to provide is value for the students that are a member of the organization by providing them with the professional style resources they would have in the industry, with a leadership structure they might see when they graduate.” Through this, ESFT has been able to continuously grow from past experiences and train new members to take charge, equipping them with the necessary skills in analysis, design, and fabrication. Matthew Boban, a freshman in the Aerospace Engineering Astronautics program and Communications Team Lead, states, “As a freshman, I did not expect to get onto ESFT, let alone become a team lead within the semester... I knew if I was involved of a big team like this, then I would have better chances later on.”

In order to understand the gravity of their work, we must realize the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, commonly known as the Kármán line. Hungarian-American engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán calculated this boundary at an altitude of about 100 kilometers above sea level. Not only will the final rocket need to withstand tremendous aerodynamic and thermodynamic forces, but also carry enough fuel to boost it past this mark. The team must also brainstorm a way to safely recover the vehicle and ensure all electronics onboard operate nominally throughout the duration of the flight.

One attempted launch has already been made in the Spring of 2015 with the team’s Horizons 1 launch vehicle. Reaching an altitude of 22,000 feet from ground level, this marked the highest any Embry-Riddle group had flown at the time. Unfortunately, the safety system failed, resulting in an unsuccessful recovery. Learning from their mistakes the team pressed forward, adopting a more systematic approach used in aerospace companies today. Their approach now consists of a thoroughly drafted objective, constraints, and requirements document on which research and development is based upon.

So what’s next for these rocketeers? Eagle Space Flight Team is slated for a February 26 launch of their test bed rocket in Aguila, Arizona which, in the future, will test any new technologies the team develops. For more information on upcoming events, progress updates, and how to become a member, you can follow ESFT on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website at [www.eaglespaceflightteam.com].

Cabanas, Reece. "Eagles Aim for Bigger Heights." Eagles Aim for Bigger Heights. 12 Mar 2017.

Eagle Space Flight Team Tests Largest Rocket Motor on Campus


Dozens gathered at the rocket test bunker near the soccer stadium on Saturday August 22 to watch the Eagle Space Flight Team (ESFT) test-fire the largest solid rocket motor in the school’s history.
ESFT was founded last fall with the goal of becoming the first undergraduate team to launch a rocket into space. Ten months into the project they have over 40 team members and have launched a three inch diameter rocket over twice the speed of sound and over 22,000 feet. They have also conducted many successful on-campus rocket motor tests including a test of six motors that produced over 150 pounds of thrust each.
The N-class rocket motor fired on Saturday was four inches in diameter and 42 inches long, and was expected to produce 650 pounds of thrust. The propellant used in the test was manufactured by the team using a formula they created. It is the same mixture they have been successfully using for the past ten months.
One and a half seconds into the expected five second burn, a hole melted in the side of the aluminum motor case. The team later found that the failure was due to improper sealing around the motor’s nozzle. The problem has been isolated and will be addressed in the future.
William Carpenter, the Propulsion Team lead said, “The team’s highest priority is to conduct all operations safely. With this in mind, the team had precautions in place such that, even with a motor failure, no team members or spectators were ever in any danger during the test.”
The founder and Project Manager, Bryce Chanes, commented, “The important thing is to continue moving forward and learn from our mistakes. This team is in a unique position where we can fail, come back, and succeed, rather than concluding the project here.”
The team will be re-testing the motor and flying their four inch diameter rocket later this semester. The rocket is expected to reach over 40,000 feet and will be seven feet tall. After that, the team plans on constructing an approximately half-scale vehicle which will be six inches in diameter and approximately 15 feet tall. The six inch diameter rocket will test all of the major systems that will be required to launch a rocket into space. The final space rocket will be 10 inches in diameter, over 20 feet tall, and weigh more than 700 pounds. The motor will have 10,000 pounds of thrust and burn for over 15 seconds. A motor this size will push the rocket to over six times the speed of sound on its way to over 330,000 feet, the internationally recognized boundary of space.
Chanes also states that he is “very proud of how open the team chooses to be by sharing not only their successes, but also their failures. Obviously, it is hard to share the bad news and is easy to share the good news but we choose to share the bad news anyway in the hopes that other teams can learn from our errors.”

Shriver, Nicole. "Eagle Space Flight Team Tests Largest Rocket Motor on Campus." Eagle Space Flight Team Tests Largest Rocket Motor on Campus. Horizons Newspaper, 24 Sep. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

Eagle Space Flight Team Launches First Rocket

Nicole Shriver, Copy Editor

On Saturday, Jan. 24, the Eagle Space Flight Team (ESFT) had its first rocket launch. The team is composed of 40 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students who share a common goal of becoming the first undergraduate university team to send a rocket into space. As this is no small task, the team’s plan is to make a series of rockets between now and the final space flight, which is planned to take place in the spring of 2017.

Horizons 1, the first rocket built by ESFT, was launched from the Eagle Eye launch site in Aguila, Ariz. The goal for this rocket was to get the team familiar with rockets and the building process. The rocket was three inches in diameter, about seven feet tall, and was made primarily of fiberglass with carbon fiber reinforcements on the fins. It was equipped with a commercially-made motor. The rocket was built from scratch in about a week. The rocket took to the sky perfectly and was out of sight in a matter of seconds. The GPS ground station showed that the rocket reached an altitude of at least 22,000 feet and the team cheered at their success. However, it was soon apparent that the rocket was coming down faster than it should. It was clear that neither the main parachute nor the smaller drogue parachute had deployed. About 80 seconds after launch, a faint thump was heard from the launch site indicating that the rocket had crashed into the ground.

The GPS ground station showed that the rocket had landed 0.7 miles from the launch site. Equipped with a shovel and plenty of water, the team set out into the desert. After one and a half hours, the team finally found the rocket. Only the bottom quarter inch of the motor case was sticking out of the ground when it was found. It took almost two hours to dig the rocket out of the dirt. As it was estimated that the rocket experienced over 500 Gs of deceleration at impact, it is no surprise that the seven foot tall rocket had been compressed down to a five foot tall mangle.

Although it is not certain why the parachute did not deploy, there are a few hints as to the cause. After dissecting the broken rocket, it was evident that the black powder charges that were meant to separate the rocket had gone off. It is possible that the amount of black powder used was not enough or the charges might not have worked properly at altitude. The team realizes that they should have ground tested before launching, but with such a tight schedule, they did not have a chance to.

ESFT plans to move forward by continuing with their next launch of a four inch diameter rocket that is estimated to reach 50,000 feet with a motor that will be built by the team. To see pictures of the launch, learn more about ESFT, and keep up with their progress, visit [http://www.eaglespaceflightteam.com] or find Eagle Space Flight Team on Facebook or Twitter. - See more at: http://erau-news.com/news/2015/02/02/eagle-space-flight-team-launches-first-rocket/#sthash.BROzGn6L.dpuf

Shriver, Nicole. "Eagle Space Flight Team Launches First Rocket." Eagle Space Flight Team Launches First Rocket. Horizons Newspaper, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.

Horizons 1 Rocket Launch

My name is Bryce Chanes. I am Project Manager of the Eagle Space Flight Team. I would like to make a short statement regarding our team’s flight on January 24th, 2015. First, I would like to again congratulate the team for their remarkable work leading up to and including the launch. Because of a rushed schedule at the start of the semester, the vehicle was completed less than a week prior to the launch. As the flier on record, being the only Level 3 NAR and TRA member on the team, I chose to take care of the recovery of the rocket on my own. This meant installing my personal deployment electronics that had been tested on many previous flights, assembling and installing the black powder charges used to deploy the recovery equipment, and installing my reliable GPS tracking system to locate the rocket after landing. I oversaw the assembly of the motor by our Propulsion Team lead (who is NAR and TRA Level 2 certified) which for this flight was a commercial motor. 

The ascent went extremely well. The motor performed perfectly and no anomalies were seen on the way up. The GPS unit reported latitude and longitude as well as altitude every five seconds to a ground-based receiver. After the motor burned out, the rocket became extremely difficult to see. Our GPS unit reported a maximum altitude of over 22,000ft. The next couple data points looked as if the rocket was descending nominally. However, seconds later it became clear that the rocket was descending faster than it should. Once it was in sight it was clear what was about to happen. About 80 seconds after launch the rocket impacted ballistically (with no parachutes) 0.7 miles north northwest of the launch site. The GPS unit’s receiver stored the last point it received. After the crash, the last data point was 2,000 above the ground. 

The team then packed out with a shovel in hand and plenty of water for the short hike through the desert. We located the GPS coordinates of the last data packet received by the ground station. Because of the rocket’s near-vertical state at that point in the flight, we expected it to be very near to that point. It took over 90 minutes to locate a small three-inch diameter hole in the ground about 30 feet from the last GPS coordinates. Remarkably, nearly no ground around the hole was disturbed. We then had a six-foot hole to dig. It took two hours, but we managed to dig the whole rocket out of the ground.

The energy involved in such an impact is incredible. The rocket decelerated at over 500 Gs at impact. This is enough energy to take a GoPro Hero 3 and compress it to a half-inch tall puck of plastic and metal. Alas the memory card was damaged beyond readability. The flight computers for recovery were smashed into a solid mass and the tracker and payload have yet to be extracted from the mangled nose cone.

During the dissection of the rocket it was clear to see that both of the drogue charges had fired when the rocket reached apogee. It also was clear that only one the main charges blew (This is understandable, as the backup charge at 700 feet had less than a second to initiate before the altimeter was destroyed).

Since both drogue charges fired, why did the rocket not separate? This was my fault. In the push to get the project done I chose not to do the most simple of deployment tests. This a universally recommended test that is used to ensure that an appropriately-sized deployment charge has been installed. What we did instead was run the calculations for recommended amount, doubled it for the primary charge and tripled it for the backup. This should have been more than plenty to separate the sections. It was noted that we were exceeding the 20,000ft altitude generally accepted as the limit above which standard black powder charges may not work. What we did was use a charge housed in surgical tubing. This contains the charge and allows the powder to burn completely in the low-oxygen environment at high altitudes. Hindsight is 20/20 and we/I will never go again without ground testing. It is a mistake I will have to live with and the whole team will learn from. I am proud of the entire team and am sorry my mistake led to the failure. The flight represents a major financial loss for the young team, and we will be looking at how we can restructure our launch schedule to continue to stay on track. I thank you all for the support you have given us, and I assure you we will be back soon with our next project.

Thank you,

Bryce Chanes
Eagle Space Flight Team Project Manager

Eagle Space Flight Team Has High Hopes

Lauren Barthenheier, Correspondent

The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Eagle Space Flight Team hopes to fly the first undergraduate rocket above 100 km, the official boundary of space. Several civilian teams around the world are working to send payloads and people in space using private funds. While some teams are competing for prizes, the Eagle Space Flight Team is motivated by their passion for space. Bryce Chanes, the project manager, hopes to accomplish flying the first undergraduate rocket to space within three years.

The idea for the Eagle Space Flight Team originated from Chanes’ technical report writing class. At first Chanes’ did not know how to approach this, but in the first week his professor, Dr. Matthew Haslam, informed the class that it is mainly focused on writing and submitting a proposal to the University. Chanes chose to propose flying the first amateur rocket to space. His professor and many of his classmates were very supportive of the proposal. In fact, some classmates have joined the project and are a part of the proposal writing team.

In the past month, the proposal writing team has been conducting research. Before deciding to move forward with the venture, they solicited input from faculty members. Many faculty and staff have been very supportive of the project.

However, the biggest obstacle facing the team is the financial burden of launching a rocket to space. Without the capital to support the venture, the project cannot happen. The proposal writing team has been focusing on securing an Ignite Grant to fund the first year. However, they will not be able to support the project alone on University grants. The team will need support from outside sources to ensure the success of the mission. It is especially critical during the final year when they will be finalizing the designing and preparing to launch a seven meter tall and 25 centimeter wide rocket.

The goal is to launch the rocket in May 2017. It will be launched at Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. Within 15 seconds of launch, the rocket will reach a speed of Mach five and an altitude of 30,000 feet. Three minutes after launch, the rocket will reach a maximum altitude of over 70 miles. Ten minutes later, it will return to earth for recovery.

If you are interested in the project, please go on Control Tower or contact Bryce Chanes at [ChanesB@my.erau.edu] for more information.

Barthenheier, Lauren. "Eagle Space Flight Team Has High Hopes." Editorial. Horizons Newspaper [Prescott, AZ] 16 Oct. 2014: n. pag. Horizons Newspaper. 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.