Certification Course

24+ certifications since 2017

In order for our teams to successfully compete in world class rocketry competitions, our members must have prior experience with rocketry. The only way to do this locally for high power rocketry (HPR) is through a certification organization that provides insurance protecting the launch site landowners. The prominent organizations that provide HPR certifications and insurance are the Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) and the National Rocketry Association (NAR). We require all of our members to be certified through Tripoli as they are more friendly to hybrid rocketry and allow us to fly our student researched and developed (SRAD) rocket motors. Members that wish to go above and beyond can work to get their Level 3 certification, but this is a more time consuming and expensive process that does not provide significant benefit to a member of the club.

The first student at the University of Tennessee to obtain their HPR certifications did so in the summer of 2017. The second in the summer of 2018. Realizing the importance of having members of SSTA certified, they began helping other members get their certifications, and thus, the certification course was born at UTK.

Since that first batch of certifications, the course has gone through a few iterations. New SSTA members are taught the basics of rocketry by senior members with HPR certifications. The course covers many of the basic concepts of high-powered rocketry, with an introduction to related engineering topics, such as failure analysis and propulsion simulation, but still limited to be mostly applicable to first-year students. Students are walked through the construction of their rocket but must complete the construction themselves in order to get their certifications.

Our first member to be certified paid over $1,500 to build and fly his rocket. Over the years the price was reduced to $500 and then $200. The most recent certification class paid less than $75 for their rockets and motors. This was made possible by the purchase of items in bulk, the use of Contrail hybrid motors for L2, various design simplifications, and the use of lightweight and cheaply produced 3D printed parts. Hybrid motors have a cheaper base cost due to the lack of expensive solid oxidizers and do not require HazMat shipping fees.

L3 Certification Examples

Will Conroy with his L3 Rocket, 2022

Drew Nickel with his L3 Rocket

Dodo-1, a prototype L3 kit and fuel characterization testbed, notable for its lack of adhesives, low cost and ease of assembly and disassembly.

L2 Certification Examples

Alex Van Bruggen, 2022, with his L2 rocket

James Cooper, 2022, with his L2 rocket

Matthew Dale with his L2 rocket

L1 Certification Examples

Megan Roth, 2022, first person to get L1 certified using a hybrid motor at UT

Andy Thompson and Joshua Kupras, 2022, assembling motors for their L1 rockets

Ricardo Crescencio, 2022, with his L1 rocket

Jakob Cielo with his L1 rocket