UAH Students Working on Liquid-Fueled Rocket Engine

Members of the UAH Space Hardware Club work on Tartarus’ engine test stand in the parking lot of Olin B. King Technology Hall. (Photo by Michael Mercier/UAH)

About 30,000 feet.

That’s the goal of a team of students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville — the Space Hardware Club working on a Tartarus liquid-fueled rocket that they hope to fly up to 30,000 feet by 2022. But planning and testing continues even during the pandemic, including hopes for a test by the end of November.

“We have been strictly following COVID-19 guidelines from the university and the SHC,” said Project Manager Spencer Christian, a UAH sophomore in aerospace engineering.

The project is the first where SHC has engineered, constructed and fired a liquid-fueled engine, and the goal is to fly a rocket at Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico in 2022.

A short duration static firing test is scheduled for Nov. 21 in rural Tennessee, on property owned by Richard Tantaris, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and one of SHC’s advisers.

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“It is absolutely necessary that this test is short, since things are more likely to go wrong if the test is longer,” Christian says. “Our No. 1 concern is safety, and having such a short test mitigates a plethora of risks.”

Others helping support the 20-student team include David Lineberry, a Propulsion Research Center research engineer; Scott Claflin, director of power innovations at Aerojet Rocketdyne, and former SHC members and UAH graduates McKynzie Perry, a propulsion engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; Aaron Hunt, an aerospace engineer at Dynetics; Michael Angeles, an engineer at QTEC Aerospace; Dalton Hicks, a test facilities engineer at Blue Origin, and Daniel Corey, a test engineer at Blue Origin.

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