COACH 30K (2021-2022)


With all students allowed back on campus, the club once again took aim at the Spaceport America Cup 30k COTS challenge. The airframe of the rocket, dubbed “Coach 30k” after former Duke Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, was 9.38 feet long and had an inner diameter of 4.5 inches. The airframe was made from 2x2 Twill 3k 7oz T-300 Carbon Fiber Fabric, with the exception of the avionics bay which was made from fiberglass. The avionics bay was connected to the forward airframe and the power tube by a polycarbonate coupler. The nosecone was also connected to the forward airframe using a polycarbonate coupler. The rocket had three trapezoidal fins made from a plywood core wrapped with carbon fiber and finished with a tip-to-tip carbon fiber layup. The fins were tabbed for alignment with the internal centering rings. A dual recovery system was implemented with Peregrine 12g CO2 ejection charges for drogue and main parachute deployment. The drogue chute was a 5-foot Rocketman standard parachute, and the main chute was a 14-foot Rocketman standard parachute. The telemetry of the rocket was monitored by a TeleMega altimeter, an RRC3 altimeter, and a Featherweight GPS tracker. The electronics were powered by two 3.7V LiPo and a 9V alkaline battery and the electronics will be activated using Featherweight magnetic switches. The rocket’s payload experiment investigated the shielding effect of steel against muon penetration at altitude. The enclosure for this experimental project housed three identical muon detectors, each made with a custom PCB and a “SiPM'' PCB. The enclosure also contained a MS5607 Pressure Sensor to convert pressure readings to altitude. The overall rocket design was analyzed using OpenRocket, SolidWorks FEA, and Ansys Fluent. Simulation results were supplemented by ground tests of the recovery and avionics systems.

coach 30k at bayboro
Coach 30k at Bayboro launch

Spaceport America Cup 2022 proved to be a great learning experience for Duke AERO. The day before launch, Coach 30k’s coupling tube cracked beyond repair, and the team had to manufacture a new one overnight. Due to the team’s preparedness by having extra material on hand, the kindness of other teams who lent their tools, and Duke AERO’s determination to stay awake until the job was finished, a new SRAD tube was ready to go the next day, and Coach 30k seamlessly passed safety checks. While the launch did not go as the team had hoped, with telemetry being lost in cloud cover and the target altitude not obtained, Duke AERO was able to celebrate multiple victories: a beautiful launch trajectory off the pad, a CubeSat bonus score, and the recovery of majority of the rocket. Overall, Duke AERO placed 13th in the 30k COTS propulsion category and 69th in all categories. Through SAC 2022, Duke AERO gained valuable competition experience and knowledge as well as new industry relations that would propel the team to a greater caliber of rocketry at the following SAC 2023.

  • coach30k getting mounted on launch rail
  • photo of traffic sign for truth or consequences/vertical launch area
  • photo of duke aero table in the convention hall
  • team photo with rocket in the convention hall
  • photo of team members during SAC group photo
  • photo of team member with a portion of the avionics bay
  • team member holding payload
  • team photo with rocket in the desert
  • coach30k on launch rail
  • members working on the avionics
  • members working on mounting couplers together
  • members working on packing parachutes
  • subset of members taking a group photo
  • integrating the avionics bay with the power section
  • inserting the ignitor into the rocket

© 2024
by Duke AERO

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