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Washington State University Aerospace Club

Great Team, Great Year

Club Photo (5)

It has been a great year for the WSU Aerospace Club. We have excelled in innovations, attempted new challenges, and grown even larger. This is the second year the club will be attending IREC and the WSU Aerospace Club has shown true dedication and excitement for the event. We have researched, manufactured, and tested our own propellant, which is no small task. We have created a parachute system that not only is designed and hand made, but also autonomously guided by GPS coordinates. We have created a 34″ wingspan glider that fits into a 4.5″ body tube and will autonomously glide back to the launch site with GPS coordinates. We have created a new electronic system with an upgraded arming mechanism and we have built an all carbon fiber fuselage with a stunning paint scheme.

All of this is possible due to the hard work that each of the club members put in for the past 8 months. It takes exceptional students to come in every Friday and work hard after a full week of school. This year is truly one for the books and I hope all of the members are proud of their accomplishments.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what makes clubs so exciting and impressive. Never stop improving and encouraging each other to conquer new challenges. You can do it!


Crimson Fire: New Launch Date

After weeks of hard work and even more so this week, the Crimson Fire is nearly finished. Many members didn’t sleep for literally days and even though the team worked diligently to try and get the rocket ready for a flight today, we ultimately decided to wait to launch. Tests on the ejection system in addition to a couple other parts will be very beneficial for the rocket before its first flight. After all, sometimes you only get one shot with a rocket and we want to make sure that we have done everything that we can to make it safe and reliable for its maiden flight. We will make May 27th our new launch date in Mansfield at the “Fire in the Sky” event. Here are a couple photos from this morning of our rocket compared to last years, and the spectacular fin paint scheme designed by Jon Farrell.

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Aerodynamics/Structures Fuselage Timelapse

Aerodynamics Team Update

Aerodynamics has been working on manufacturing the fuselage tube for the past couple of weeks. A mandrel was created to hold the body tube for the layup process. They started out with a single layer of carbon fiber and vacuum bagged it. The result- fantastic layup, no wrinkles, very nice finish.


The 2nd and 3rd layups returned less than ideal results unfortunately. 3-4 layers of CF were used for each. Each of the layers had epoxy run through them and pressed out(similar to a prepreg) before being placed on the aluminum tube. This would allow for less movement of each layer when placed onto the tube. The idea was that this would help reducing wrinkles. Each of the layups were placed into a vacuum bag and into the oven to cure. This step seemed to create the most wrinkles. Even though breather was placed around the tube, there were areas that bunched up when the vacuum sucked out all of the air. Thus, they resulted in veiny tubes. Although these can be sanded down, the process reduces the strength of the tube.


The 4th test was great! The team had a near perfect layup. What changed?! They didn’t use the vacuum bag during the curing process. Instead, after they were done applying epoxy, peel ply was wrapped around the tube and the whole tube went to cure in the oven. The ending result looked spot on. Zero wrinkles and and smooth finish. The thickness with 3 layers was close to .1″.


The Von Kármán nose cone was chosen for its low drag and high volume characteristics from subsonic to supersonic. The Von karma shape is a common nosecone profile in rockets of this size. The nosecone mold has been CNC’d and already had a test layup.


Gelcoat was applied 7 times and sanded and smoothed with each added layer. Now, its so smooth that you can practically see your reflection.
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A boat tail is being used to improve the overall aerodynamic shape of the rocket and reduce the amount of drag. The boat tail is also being used to hold the motor casing in the rocket. Initially, the mold started out as turned down foam, was sanded multiple times, filled, and sanded again resulting in a clean smooth surface. The foam plug was covered in layers of fiberglass followed by a carbon fiber sleeve to add strength and match the rest of the rocket.



Fin Profile- The hexagonal airfoil was chosen for its low drag performance, durability, and simplicity. Constructed out of BirchPlywood layered with Carbon Fiber.



Electronics Team Update

Electronics team has been working on the schematic for the internal electronic components consisting of two stratologgers and the ignition system. Their ignition system utilizes a magnetic switch in addition to a physical switch on the outside of the fuselage to easily and safely arm the rocket. The whole system will have a large panel/door for easy access to the electronics while on the ground/launchpad and has removable internal panels to take out the entire electronics bay for more intricate work.

Bay Housing Electronics Foundation

Propulsion Update: Dean

We first build a launch stand using 3D-printed for the launch pad and wooden parts for the stand of the launch. The first two attempts were a success since the rocket was fueled by sugar. The sugar rockets were mildly easy to make since it was basically caramel sugar. Only issues during launch were that the igniter had trouble connecting to the launch box. We eventually came up with the amount of ingredients we needed to make our custom-made ammonium perchlorate rocket fuel. Once we got our ingredients we needed to make our rocket fuel, we began setting up procedures and stir our ingredients into our custom-made rocket fuel.

The third attempt, which was a real test with the custom made ammonium perchlorate fuel, was not a success since the motor exploded but didn’t ignite the rocket fuel. We realized that the rocket fuel may have had air pockets and couldn’t ignite. We developed air lock PVC pipe to prevent air pockets to seep into the rocket fuel, and making several new procedures to mix the ingredients in different ways to get the best results from the rocket fuel once testing begins again. We’re also rebuilding the rocket stand by creating a larger 3d-printed launch stand.

President Encourages STARS Students to join Student Clubs

Paul Flerchinger, president of the WSU Aerospace Club, speaks to the STARS students about building rockets and what they can accomplish in a student clubs. Our Aerospace Club is just one of many excellent options available to WSU Students that can provide community service and learning opportunities, a chance to pad your resume with an awesome project, as well as a whole lot of fun!

President Paul Flerchinger Speaks to Student Clubs

Paul’s motivation:

“I hope to help students get involved with the college no matter what club or event they choose to participate in. Being in a club not only helps you take what you have learned in class and apply it to the project you are working on, but also helps you engage with other people who share a common interest. Good luck out there WSU students- Show others what you can do!”


Current Rocket Design Specs


Weight: 28lbs


  1. O-Give nosecone
  2. Trapezoidal fin
  3. Material CF for body


Weight: 5-7

Length: 24”

diameter: 3”

  1. Ammonium perchlorate and aluminum
  2. Commercial engine & case nozzle


Weight: 15

Length: 36”

  1. Controllable parachute


Weight: 3lbs

Length: 12”

  1. See Recovery Presentation


Weight: 10lbs (Glider~2lbs)

Length: 24” tube, 20” wingspan

  1. Collapsable autonomous Glider

Hybrid Propulsion

  1. Oxidizer- nitrous oxide
  2. Nylon and HTPB