Boston University team plans launch of Project Starscraper suborbital rockets

The Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group (BURPG) is planning a launch of their next generation suborbital rocket on July 25, 2015. Starscraper is 30 feet long, weighs 1,100 pounds and can carry 100 pounds of payload.

The $10,000 sought by this funding campaign represents the last forty percent of the funds that the team will need for the coming year. The money will go toward final construction and ground testing of Starscraper.

Starscraper is an actively controlled rocket running with a nitrous oxide / HTPB rocket engine. An estimated 3,000 pounds of thrust is created at launch and the engines can burn for more than sixty seconds.

Liquid nitrous oxide is injected into nozzle ports, creating shockwaves in the nozzle that act to keep the rocket stable and work toward a higher efficiency. Roll thrusters fire on re-entry so the rocket will tumble and allow some energy to dissipate before the parachute deploys.

This is a project completely run by students, and most parts are built totally from idea to finished product. A design gallery on the BURPG website shows fuel analysis, thermal analysis and a densely populated rocket assembly.

Students working on the Starscraper project are not only excited about the applied learning that they’re doing but also inspired by the knowledge they’re giving to new students that join the project each year.

Boston University prides itself on an open research philosophy and this student team plans to follow that spirit. After the first launch the team plans to release around ninety percent of their work to the public.

An expected five world records will be broken when Starscraper hits its altitude of 435,000 feet. This will be the highest launch for any amateur collegiate rocket launch. A proof of concept test was successfully completed in mid-November and is featured in the Kickstarter campaign video.

BURPG is a great organization to forward the field of engineering, especially collegiate engineering projects. The campaign video and the rocket itself look structurally sound but definitely built from a maker’s perspective. The 2015 launch will be one of my most anticipated engineering events of the new year.