Image: Jim Wilkerson, Tahoma Photography


Motor Class: N

Peak Thrust: ~1200 lbs. (5kN)

Oxidizer: Nitrous

Fuel: Aluminized Plastisol

Recovery: Single Bay, Dual deploy

Payload: Cosmic Ray Detection

Diameter: 5 in. (127 mm)

Length: 12 ft. (3.66 m)

Spaceport America Cup 2022 Flight:

1st Place in the 30K SRAD Hybrid category

Apogee: 28,878 ft. AGL

Max Velocity: Mach 1.77

Note: Featherweight altitude data is inaccurate.

Jakob Cielo, Brandon Conner, James Cooper, Matthew Dale, Thomas Scott, Nicholas Crowder, Alex Van Bruggen, Sheyenne Hembree, Will Edwards, Dr. Evans Lyne. Image: James Hudspeth

Redshift was our rocket for the hybrid 30k SRAD division at Spaceport America Cup 2022. Development started immediately following the 2019 Spaceport America Cup.

The initial design and parts fabrication was carried out by Drew Nickel (Lead 2020-21) and Peter Tarlé (Lead 2021-22). Under the leadership of Drew Nickel initial plans for the motor were made and the first parts started to arrive just as the pandemic began. It was decided that the rocket would be subminimum diameter with the motor casing doubling as the lower airframe and it would have an outer diameter of 5 inches. The motor is unique for its use of an aluminized plastisol fuel grain, the casting process for which required a significant amount of time to perfect. Another aspect for which it is unique is its size, being only 5 inches it was significantly smaller than similar rockets competing in the same category, a fellow hybrid competitor dubbed it the "mini 30K"; this size reduction was a result of it being sub-minimum diameter, using a floating injector baffle, and filling via a UC valve (Urbanski-Colburn Valve). Peter Tarlé led the team and club through the height of the pandemic against many difficulties such as a loss of membership over the pandemic and loss of our original payload team. In this year parts were acquired and tested along with the finalization of subscale testing. Under Nicholas Crowder (Lead 2021-22) development still progressed, with much of the past year being devoted to scaling propellant development. The casting process for our aluminized/plastisol grains is a laborious and time-intensive process. Due to our castings being some of the largest castings of plastisol made (the primary use of plastisol being for small fishing lures), the process had to be developed by scratch over three years, and within a tight budget. A large issue encountered was high-porosity in our early grains, ultimately being combatted by lowering the rate at which the grains cool. Static test fires were carried out at our test stand on our 5kN vertical, multiple test fires of both 3 inch grains in Contrail motor hardware as well as 5 inch grains in Redshift's motor. A successful test flight of a 3 inch grain was also carried out using Contrail hardware and the Dodo-1 testbed.