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Washington State University Aerospace Club

Carbon Cougar Getting Ready for Maiden Voyage

For those of you not up to date, that voyage is to carry our 10+ lb payload to 10,000 ft. After many design changes the rocket is almost ready to travel to Utah with a fresh coat of paint and an eager team wanting this rocket to succeed. A lot of hard work has been put in over the last month. We were faced with the challenge of adjusting the configuration of the carbon cougar to compensate of the higher launch altitude and it being over 100 degrees outside this week – this meant an underweight rocket needed some mass! With a lack of time and resources to downgrade our engine, we are adding weight to the payload and around the engine casing. Now that 95% of the work is done, we have one final push to make it to competition.

Wish us luck!

The CARBON Cougar Launches!

Last night at precisely 4:48, 12 minutes before the end of the launch day the CARBON Cougar Flew for the first time. Earlier that day, which started at 7:30am, Katlyn Struxness, Elijah Shoemake, Kevin Cavender, Ryan Brooks, Mario Reillo, Curtis Zehnder and myself were already working hard preparing for the launch. We performed an ejection charge test that morning and then drove to the Mansfield WA launch site. There was a crowd of people there wanting to launch rockets and we had a lot to do. Mario, Curtis, Katlyn, and I worked on getting the launch rail set up while the rest of the crew prepped the rocket and worked with Ryan on the electronics set up. After hours of dodging rain storms and waiting for a window to fly, and finally getting the launch rail set up, we were almost ready to go. We had Robo (an experienced rocketeer that graciously volunteered to help launch our rocket for us) thoroughly check over all parts of the rocket- and he was detailed. We took the whole motor apart, which was assembled very well (Thanks Den), and got it checked out. Then he looked over the fins (Said they were rock solid and were definitely not going anywhere- Way to go Jon, Kesanet, and Bryan)! We checked out the electronics having all parts meticulously explained to him by Ryan (He and Jake spent over 24 hours making sure all parts were to spec and working properly-Can’t thank you enough). He inspected our recovery system and had no doubts about it (Way to go Phil, Chris, Conor). He was happy to see that Phil had put tape over the shock cord so that it wouldn’t get cut during ejection and put tape over the shock cord in spaced segments to slow the main chute deployment. Robo thought it was funny that we used a lead weight for payload, but said it too wasn’t going anywhere and would do its job (On top of it-Dallas, Russell, Malique). He had looked at the nosecone and the rest of the rocket and said that it was very well constructed and well thought out. He was more impressed when we told him that we had never launched a rocket before and that we had made almost all parts in house. (Jon, Johnny- the nosecone looked awesome!). Other experienced rocketeers were also impressed by how well thought out the rocket was and were excited to see it. Fast forward- 24 minutes till the waiver to 14,000 feet disappeared and we hauled over to the launch site with the fully assembled rocket. It was a team effort to slide it into the launch rail and get all last minute items ready to go. Katlyn and I inserted the ignitor and connected up all wires and with that we evacuated the area. The countdown began, everyone tense and excited to see all our hard work be put to the test. Dale- the launch coordinator started the countdown. The Carbon Cougar accelerated off the launch pad and soared into the sky. It was beautiful- That green flame was unmistakable. Because it went into the clouds, the other rocketeers told us to pay very close attention at 40 seconds to make sure if it did come down as a ballistic missile, that we were ready. After the 40 seconds had passed and no one had seen the rocket, everyone sat hoping that the recovery charges went off. Within 30 seconds, Dale had eyes on the rocket- Both drogue and main parachute were out!!! We tracked the rocket to the exact location with the GPS tracker and Eli had already gone out and retrieved the rocket. After a quick examination of the rocket- we were not unscathed. The CARBON COUGAR sustained bulkhead and lower fuselage damage- rendering it not flyable again- at least that same day. Nosecone, payload, electronics, motor casing, and recovery all looked good from initial inspection. After looking at the max altitude from the two stratologgers and GPS unit, we reached 10,300 feet. this was 300 feet from our mark! Absolutely incredible to get that close to the target! Getting this far with a club is remarkable. Even though the rocket has some work to get done, we have some individuals in the summer who can help us get er flight ready again. To everyone that helped make this rocket launch a success and to all of the builders and brains behind the operation, WE HAVE MADE IT TO OUR 10,000foot GOAL!!! Hats off to the WSU Aerospace Club 14′-15′. We can make it to UTAH!! Pictures to Follow


IMG_20150311_180217After Many Tests we have finally moved on to doing the full body section! To keep the body stiff we have decided to add a layer of Aero-Mat as an inner layer. This will add the compression strength we need to ensure there is no buckling during the burn of our motor.IMG_20150305_101500

The final body is planned to include one layer of carbon fiber followed by a layer of Aero-Mat followed by two more Layers of carbon Fiber.

Payload Lead Wk 4-Dallas Chang “Update Finally”

Sorry for being so late with the updates. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks here but our orders are coming through and we finally have that good momentum going. Our payload module has come in and we will be measuring how long our tube needs to be before we cut it. Right now though, with nothing else in I decided to wait on it so that the rest of our products come in and if there needs to be any last minute changes. One of the things we are trying to do is find a way to internally cap off the ends of the tubes. There is a way to plug the pipe but the pipe plug we are thinking about is almost 5 inches think and that would take up a lot of much needed space. I was thinking about drilling some large threads and taking a PVC cap with the same outer diameter as the inner diameter of our tube so that we could screw them both together without taking up that much space. That would take away some of the material of the tube but, it shouldn’t be a problem I think.

The payload items, themselves have yet to come in. Right now it’s mostly been the computer parts that everyone finds really exciting so weight-wise it is not that heavy yet. Right now the altimeter, the GPS, and the vibrometer I know for sure are going to happen. Wireless telemetry  needs to be figured out a bit but nothing that we can’t overcome. The housing for the Go-Pro camera is being worked on by both Malique and I, but Malique has progressed a little farther along than I have in that regard.

We really do want to get some K-12 school kids involved but time has been tough to come by to swing by the local school to see how interested the kids are.

The electronics team that we were going to share some of the payload space with as been moved into the aluminum tube of the rocket. That does put them at a bit of a disadvantage for telemetry reasons and have had to compensate by moving some of their parts into the nose cone, but this rocket is still a work in progress, so I would be surprised if all of our plans turned out perfect the first time.

I need to come up with a payload check-list so that when the team heads down to Utah, we can check off all the things for the payload section before we send it up to record all the data and video we can. I’ll send that to Phil so we can compile all the check-lists together so that we have a giant master-list we can use before we send the rocket up. That seems to be everything that has happened these last few weeks, lots of hurrying up and waiting for parts to come. Until next time


“One test result is worth one thousand expert opinions.”- Wernher von Braun

Carbon Fiber “Situation”

Last week, there was a big push to get another carbon fiber test piece made for the rocket. Thanks to Den, Curtis, Kevin, and Harrison, they got it all epoxied and ready to go. They put the aluminum tube with the layup in the oven in the composites shop and heated it to 160°F. This way, the aluminum tube would expand a very small amount and when taken out of the oven, and the aluminum tube contracts, the carbon fiber would be slightly easier to get off. Although the plan sounded great, the oven at some point in the night shut off and the pipe cooled down to 90°F when Den arrived to check on it. Needless to say, the pipe took some extra work to slide the carbon fiber layup off of it- but it happened and the aluminum pipe came out unscathed. This week we will be doing one last test piece and will watch the oven like a hawk!

IMG_20150305_101451 IMG_20150305_101500

Rocket is named – CARBONCougar!

At meeting yesterday, we reached consensus on a name for our IREC rocket, and the name is now CARBONCougar! CARBONCougar is now being built, with the goal of construction being finished on the 14th. See CARBONCougar’s logo below.