BLUE REAPER (2022-2023)
Blue Reaper was designed and built by Duke AERO over the course of the 2022-23 academic year. The rocket was designed to compete in the Spaceport America Cup 10,000 ft COTS propulsion category. The goal of Blue Reaper was to reach an apogee of 10,000 ft AGL, while allowing for a 3U CubeSat to be ejected and recovered on decent. This rocket also featured Duke AERO’s first air brake system, which deployed petals as needed to slow ascent after burn out and accurately reach the target apogee. Blue Reaper utilized a Aerotech M2500T-P motor. For the first time, the carbon fiber and fiberglass airframe was made completely in-house using prepreg composites. Another new material innovation in Blue Reaper was forged carbon fiber, which used bulk molding compound (BMC) to retain strength while decreasing weight. The internal structural components and nose cone tip were also manufactured in-house from 6061 aluminum.
Blue Reaper brought Duke AERO great success at Spaceport America Cup. The team was one of the first teams to launch on the second day and achieved a height of 8,279 ft. The avionics successfully deployed the drogue parachute at apogee and later the main parachute to allow Blue Reaper to land smoothly in the desert. After a speedy recovery of 45 min, Duke AERO brought the rocket to judges for inspection, where it received full recovery points and clearance to be launched again. Overall, the team’s technical achievements impressed the judges, and Duke AERO received the 4th highest design score out of 119 international teams that launched. Duke AERO finished 36th overall, and 24th out of the 67 teams in the 10k COTS category.