Rocketry club outscores top schools at competition
The University of Houston’s Space City Rocketry Club was the highest placed Texas university in their category at the 2019 Spaceport America Cup this June in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The team of eight placed 22 out of 121 teams from all over the world and outscored major universities like Yale, Cornell and Stanford. They also placed in the top 20 percent alongside international universities.
“It was difficult,” said avionics team lead Aldo Casco, “and there were moments during the year that made it feel like we wouldn’t be successful, but hard work always pays off.”
The team worked for about 10 months to craft a rocket that would fly over 10,000 feet, get as close to their goal of 12,941 feet as possible and would return safely to the ground for an undamaged retrieval.
“On the first objective we got pretty close,” Casco said, whose team’s rocket reached 11,193 feet, just short of their objective, “On the second we did perfectly.”
The club is broken up into four teams: structures, propulsion, avionics and recovery. Each team was responsible for different aspects of the rocket’s design from how it was built, to what parachute would be used and which motor was best.
“We had put in a tremendous amount of work into the project,” said structures engineering sub team lead Daniel Bosquez, “It was hard to see our baby be put on the launch pad after seeing so many other teams’ rockets blow up, but when our rocket experienced a spectacular launch and the parachute deployed, I was so proud. I almost had a tear in my eye.”
This is the second year that the team competed in the Spaceport America Cup, but it is the first time they achieved a successful launch and retrieval.
“Last year we successfully launched our previous rocket, but the parachute had failed to deploy properly,” Bosquez said, “And this resulted in the rocket experiencing some damage, placing UH in the middle of the pack at the competition.”
The Space City Rocketry Club hopes to keep growing membership through more publicity and competitions like the Spaceport America Cup.
“The club will keep going, keep competing and keep on doing projects as long as people are interested,” Casco said, “The rocket team isn’t as well established as (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’s) robotics team or (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’s) car team, so we need to put ourselves out there a little more than they do.”
Entering competitions like Spaceport America gives students a taste of what it’s like in the aerospace industry, according to UH physics professor and Rocketry Club adviser Edgar Bering.
Bering believes that experience with the club and rocketry competitions will help students get jobs within the space industry.
“The rocket team has helped me tremendously in gaining aerospace experience,” Bosquez said. “Something very hard to come by at UH.”
After working with the Space City Rocketry Club, Bosquez has chosen to pursue a career in aerospace engineering and wants to create missile systems or spacecrafts.
“There has never been a more exciting time to enter the industry,” Bosquez said, “And I am thankful this team that has led me to it.”