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The Buckeye Space Launch Initiative soared to first place at the Spaceport America Cup 2017 in New Mexico this June. The Spaceport America Cup is designed around the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams from all over the globe. This year, the competition attracted more than 110 teams from colleges and universities in eleven countries from around the world. Teams of college students designed, built and launched solid-, liquid- or hybrid-fuel rockets to a targeted altitude.

The team of 20 Ohio State students earned first place in the 30,000-foot (30K) Student Researched and Designed (SRAD) solid fuel rocket category. Their nine-foot long rocket, named Brutus II, soared to an altitude of 23,232 feet with a full 3U payload (30x10x10cm) – the largest of any other rocket competing in the 30K field. Of the 10 other teams in the same category, only five actually launched, and just three had successful flights

“It’s very difficult to get to that height as it turns out,” said Nic Flesher, a senior aerospace engineering student and the team’s project manager for the upcoming academic year.

Expecting to lose visual contact as the Brutus II launched, the team was prepared with an onboard telemetry system.
“We had a GPS telemetry system onboard so we were able to actively track it from the pad and we were able to know where it was at all times and when it landed,” explained Flesher.

The team also competed in the 10,000-foot (10K) commercial-off-the-shelf category where it placed 10th out of 45 teams. During the competition two cubesats and an active drag system were launched. The 10K team developed the active drag system to control the rocket’s apogee during flight. The project was a finalist for the Technical Excellence and Innovation Award.

There are students working on the team from all different engineering disciplines as well as outside of engineering, such as business. The team hopes to bring in talent from a greater variety of backgrounds and fields of study for even greater learning and fun. The Buckeyes plan to compete in other competitions allowing them to reach higher altitudes in the future. Thanks to generous sponsors and private donors, the team has been able to fund their participation in high-powered rocketry competitions since 2015.

The video below is footage captured by IO. The rocket launched to and recovered from 10,295 feet during a test launch for the 2018 Spaceport America competition.


Current Projects

30K Spaceport America Cup 10K Spaceport America Cup 100k High Altitude Project