JOURNEY OF MY ROCKET LAUNCH | By Anudeep Gupta Grandhe

3….2…..1……

“How to escape the earth?”. This was the question that bugged me while I was in school. Not that I wanted to leave the earth, in a definitive kind of way. I wanted to explore and understand what lay beyond the skies. It has been a long journey for me. It started for me when I heard about the new technologies and heavy powered rockets by ISRO. My curiosity was further increased when I saw those rockets being launched and the news cuts of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s classes and inspirational speeches. It would be fair to say that my childhood was spent in the glory of space. Hence, it was in school itself that I had decided to focus on space technologies. My interest in physics during my school and intermediate school helped me gain ample enthusiasm to apply for Aerospace Engineering. I had an innovative mind and wanted to explore more about rocketry and understand the mysteries of aerospace technologies from the initial days of my college itself. It was in the first few days that I found the answer to my age-old question: There is no scope of leaving earth without the aid of escape velocity.

After attending many lectures and series, I came to understand that without the propellant fuels and aerodynamic structure of the body it’s not possible to fly a rocket. Hence, to solve the puzzle to escape the earth, I chose the interesting topic of rocket propellants as my focus. I worked on propellent technologies and even sought the help of the laboratories available in my college. However, I couldn’t find anything related to combustion there. Rather than give up, I decided to establish a work on combustion analysis and to deliver the work for upcoming batches so that it could help them.  At the initial stages, I faced many issues from getting permission for the establishment for the propellant facilities to navigating the many heads of departments. After completion of the 3rd year of my college, I was required to do an internship. I didn’t waste the opportunity and decided to work with a company in the propellant industry or those that purely work in the propulsion field. I did a lot of search in a lot for places but couldn’t find a private firm that works in this field. Moreover, after my field trip to ISRO, I came to know that aerospace graduates also don’t have it easy, working over in Sriharikota. I felt sad to know that even after so many hurdles I had faced, there were a few more in store to get an internship.  Finally, luck favored me and through a web app, I found an interesting course on PNM SAT Design Course in PES University, Bangalore where PISAT was being integrated and sent to space using the PSLV. The course was for about 30 days and the trainer was an American named Dr.Sharan Asundi from Tuskegee University. I grabbed the opportunity and applied for the course. I took relevant classes for different subsystems and went on through brainstorming sessions in order to develop a student satellite. We named the satellite as ADHYAY – 1 and its main function was to detect combustible gases and to enhance zone images by using a spectrometer. The secondary and unique idea was of the “self-deorbiting mechanism” which, according to me, is a unique remedy for space debris.

We worked to have the satellite come back to earth atmosphere, which will experience the heavy temperature by aerodynamic heating. I worked on the ATTITUDE DETERMINATION CONTROL SYSTEM where the idea was to control the satellite motion in space without any perturbations by using “retro rocket thrusters”. Here I found a fantastic group of people from different backgrounds while working on satellite integration.

Our setup in PES, Bangalore
Our setup in PES, Bangalore

After getting back to college, my relentless work to setting up a propulsion laboratory and to work on rocket propellants resumed. The laboratory had to be built from scratch and I had to face a lot of hurdles in getting permission and making the various heads of department understand the importance of having such a laboratory.  Meanwhile,, I had decided to work on solid rocketry with the help of oxidizer named Potassium Nitrate (. For fuel I decided to use different derivatives from Glucose compounds named Fructose, Maltose, Galactose, and other sugars having higher crystalline forms and lower crystalline forms. I tested about 110 propellants by using different combinations and variations in addition of moisture, propellant making type and grain shapes.

Here I came to know various problems during the combustion mechanism. Experiencing physical injuries like sudden blasting and ignition systems within the blast radius gave me perspective. I also worked on setting up a thrust calculating devices that had been installed up in the laboratory and using it for propulsion purposes.

Sugar motors for model rocket that I made
Sugar motors for model rocket that I made

Sometime later, I came across a book on amateur solid rocket design that proved to be of huge help. I characterized the best thrust output propellant from all my tests and used that propellant in the model

rocket. I was passionate to build a rocket that will enter into the apogee altitude of 1 km in the desired trajectory and launch the same but due to some issues, I was unable to launch it. I had gone through rigorous training in the software named ANSYS and in my college luckily had the research version in which we can calculate the problem with an unlimited number of nodes. So to analyze the complete node of rocket vs. altitude we need to give many input variables and that was where I was lacking. What’s more, I decided to make this as my final year main project. As per norms, we need to submit the project report with the help of ANSYS WORK so I designed the same model rocket using CATIA and made the analysis in three different conditions Mach 0.3, 1, 1.5.

Some tests with the sugar motors
Some tests with the sugar motors

Eventually, I completed my graduation and am now in search of work in the rocketry field. Meanwhile, I am happily delivering some speeches from nearby schools and colleges about rocket parts and integration systems.

Giving a talk at a college about rocketry
Giving a talk at a college about rocketry

The propulsion lab in my college has been fully set up and I am happy that my juniors can now use the facilities. My search for answers to my questions still continue and I am on a path to find them.

Falcon Heavy – The new kid on the block

Falcon Heavy - The new kid on the block

When SpaceX started operations in 2002,  it heralded a new age of independent space science organizations. No longer was the space dream just a government-funded activity. In a way, SpaceX has made space even more accessible.

Like the various space programs of the world, SpaceX to has an arsenal of launch vehicles with Falcon Heavy being the heavyweight.

Falcon heavy is a two stage, partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle. It has the highest payload capacity ( 63,800 Kg to LEO) of all the launch vehicles currently operating and capacity the third highest capacity in the history of launch vehicles, surpassed only by the American Saturn V (140,000 Kg to LEO) and the Soviet Energia (100,000 Kg to LEO).

A deritivite of the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy consists of a structurally strengthened Falcon 9 as the core, with two additional Falcon 9 first stages used as liquid fuel strap-on boosters. The first stage is powered by three Falcon 9 derived cores, each equipped with nine Merlin 1D engines. The Falcon Heavy has a total sea-level thrust at liftoff of 22,819 kN, from the 27 Merlin 1D engines, while thrust rises to 24,681 kN as the craft climbs out of the atmosphere. The upper stage is powered by a single Merlin 1D engine modified for vacuum operation, with a thrust of 934 kN, with an expansion ratio of 117:1 and a nominal burn time of 397 seconds.

Falcon Heavy was originally designed with a unique “propellant crossfeed” capability, whereby the center core engines would be supplied with fuel and oxidizer from the two side cores until their separation. However, owing to the increase in complexity involved, SpaceX scrapped the plan. All three cores of the Falcon Heavy arrange the engines in a structural form SpaceX calls Octaweb, aimed at streamlining the manufacturing process.

 Falcon Heavy has more lift capability than any other operational rocket, with a payload of 64,000 Kg to LEO and 16,800 kg to trans-Mars injection.

Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and it would restore the possibility of flying crewed missions to the Moon or Mars. The rocket was designed to meet or exceed all current requirements of human rating. The structural safety margins are 40% above flight loads, higher than the 25% margins of other rockets. However, as of February 2018 Musk does not plan to apply for a human-rating certification to carry humans.

Being a partially reusable launch vehicles, the boosters of the Falcon Heavy return to earth once they are seperated from the core. SpaceX had a tumultuous experience perfecting this technology, but over the course of time they have perfected the landing.  The cores include four extensible landing legs To control the descent of the boosters and center core through the atmosphere, SpaceX uses small grid fins which deploy from the vehicle after separation.Immediately after the side boosters separate, the center engine in each burns for a few seconds in order to control the booster’s trajectory safely away from the rocket. The legs then deploy as the boosters turn back to Earth, landing softly on the ground. The center core continues to fire until stage separation, after which its legs deploy and land back on Earth on a drone ship.

Owing to the payload capacity and reusability, Falcon Heavy has the lowest Kg to Kg launch rates in the industry. It is no wonder then that NASA and DOD also plan on using Falcon Heavy and other of SpaceX’s vehicles to launch a few of their satellites. Not just America, but space agencies from other parts of the world have also bought payload space on future SpaceX missions.

The maiden launch was to initially take place in April 2013. However, the date was pushed back several times, each time the reason varying. However, finally after battling failure of SpaceX CRS-7, last minute changes to plans, government shutdown and unfavorable weather, the Falcon Heavy had its maiden launch on 6th February 2018 at the historic launchpad 39A (where the Apollo 11 mission was also launched) at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral. . The payload for the maiden launch was Elon Musk’s personal, cherry red Tesla roadster that had a dummy astronaut named Starman (after the David Bowie song) and played David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”. The car was also equipped with 3 camera that would take photographs of the  “epic views”. The car was planned to orbit the sun. However, later reports suggested that it had overshot its orbit and was heading towards the asteroid belt. Of the 3 boosters, 2 of them landed as planned and the 3rd just missed the mark and landed in the sea at relatively high velocity. Nonetheless, the mission was declared a success

Most recently, the Falcon Heavy had its first commercial mission launch on 11th April 2019. It was a success with all 3 boosters safely reaching ground. It carried the Arabsat satellite.

The next planned mission for the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for June of this year, with 2 of the boosters being reused from the April launch.

Eventually, the Falcon Heavy and the Falcon 9 will be replaced by the Starship and Super Heavy launch system in 2020, which is touted to take humans to Mars.

The Motor that moves us! – Part 1

From Thiruvananthapuram, Nagpur, Bangalore and finally to Sivakasi, India’s first solid fuel powered model rocket motor has shown us highs and lows and it is a journey that we are still on.

If you asked them if they knew all along that they would be heralding the Indian new space movement, you wouldn’t get a definitive answer. But Divyanshu Poddar and Akash Ekka knew that if they were to go ahead with realizing their dream, they had to get the heart of the matter just right.

It all started back in their alma mater, The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Kerala. Divyanshu and Akash were classmates who shared a common passion for all things space. Divyanshu was a model rocketry enthusiast and it was not long before he had a group of friends who would experiment with model rockets. Akash, who was more into space science, would observe their experiments and took on the active role of recording test launches with great interest and helped the team with lab test and calculations.

Akash had always liked propulsion systems as a subject at college. Fate had it this way that as an intern, he got an opportunity to work at Cryogenic Engines, specifically analyzing the material properties of Superalloy Inconel which was heavily used in CE-20 engines. Under the guidance of Dr. Ninan who pioneered propulsion at VSSC, it was in the chemistry lab of IIST where they use to prepare the BP mix. It involved grinding the mix for long hours, trying a variety of compositions and then curing it in the lab oven. Later, they would test the mix in unearthly hours to avoid attention (they never knew how big the explosion would be) at the basketball court as the college didn’t have many open spaces around them. All these activities, for the first time, ignited the thrill in them of working with explosives, taming the explosive power for propulsion, not for mere academic interest and which then in the future became the mainstay R&D frontier of Rocketeers. Thus, when Divyanshu and Akash set off to start rocketeers, they both know that they had to get the heart of the operation just right.

While Divyanshu was focusing on the manufacturing and production of the model rocket kits, Akash has tasked the job to find means to make the engines. This meant, developing, designing and sourcing the engines from scratch. So, in 2016 Akash set off to find a manufacturer in the city of Nagpur. He went in search of explosive manufacturers who would be willing to help. Since, it was all experimental at this stage, finding a vendor was proving to be difficult.

The first step was understanding the critical component: Black powder.

Black powder = Fuel(Charcoal) + Oxidizer (Pot. Nitrate) + Binder (Dextrin) + Sulphur

These components also make up the fuel for a firecracker rocket, however it is the composition and proportion that makes the difference. Source and quality of the raw material is also important as charcoal of different varieties are available. The idea was to get consistent results every time the motor was fired. Firecrackers tend to explode and their success rates are not a matter of concern. Model rockets couldn’t be taken so lightly.

It was during this time of exhaustive researching and searching did Akash and Divyanshu find Ameen Explosives. Ameen explosives supplied black powder to firecracker factories and was situated 20km outside Nagpur in a town called Katol. Mr. Pimple from Ameen Explosives turned out to be very helpful considering that the engines were still experimental at this point. He helped Akash understand explosives and black powder better and also study its manufacturing. It was here Akash realized the importance of safety. Mr. Pimple used to paraphrase Murphy’s law and say “If anything can go bad, it will go bad”. Being in the fireworks industry he had a first hand account of how crucial safety is.This was quite a learning experience to work in an explosive factory as fatal accidents always reminded importance of alertness and safety as first priority.

Under Mr. Pimple’s mentorship, Akash began designing and testing the solid fuel mixture. They tested out various proportions of the black powder to see what works. They conducted rudimentary weekly tests to see progress. Slowly, but surely they achieved the perfect blend.

Mixture Composition Percentage%(Weight) Physical State
Potassium Nitrate(KNO3) 75-78 Solid powder granules
Charcoal(C7H4O) 15-19 Solid powder granules
Sulphur(S) 4-5    Solid powder granules
Dextrin(C6H10O5)n 1-2 Solid powder granules

Over the course of many weeks, Akash realized that the density of the mixture was affecting the outcome. They realized that the mixture needed to be compressed and that simple hand pressing just wasn’t cutting it. Hence, they developed a jig that would pack in more black powder.

Although, conceptually the motor was taking shape, practically there were no results. The motor collapsed even after trying out different samples. To add to that, Ameen Explosives had to be dissolved. The owners had to sell it off  and the new owners were not as cooperative. This meant that all the stock that was tested couldn’t be recovered. Although, they did have the test results, they were empty handed. After inhaling black powder fumes for these many months, beating the grind of this unregulated and informal industry, getting down and dirty with the materials and dealing with hundreds of people, this felt like a major setback

The hunt was on for another vendor. But, lessons were learnt from past experiences. The need of the hour was an expert in the industry who would understand model rockets and guide. Backyard manufacturing was out of questions and dealing with amateurs was not in the cards. Safety and quality, as Akash knew so very well, was not to be compromised.

Owing to the unregulated nature of the fireworks industry, the next logical conclusion was to go to the largest firework manufacturers in the country. Only one name popped up: Sivakasi. Sivakasi produces 80% of the county’s fireworks and hence finding a vendor here wouldn’t be too difficult.

Sivakasi turned out be a whole other game. Sivakasi, as Akash found out, was just a small village in Tamil Nadu. Yes, every other person was into firework manufacturing, but there was another barrier. Language. It’s not people didn’t want to understand Akash, they couldn’t. With very little cosmopolitan influence, no one knew even broken english/hindi. It was thus difficult to first make them understand model rockets and second, seek their help. For 2 months, Akash went one factory to another, searching for a suitable vendor. The local crowd nor the weather provided any hope. It would take for a non Tamil speaker, a whole 2 mins just to put together “I have an offer for you” into an understandable language.

Just when things looked the bleakest, there was a ray of hope. Enter Somnath Babu.

To be continued…

An interesting “intern” of events – My experience at Rocketeers by Achyut Rajendran

What do you do when inspiration hits? Achyut Rajendran’s answer is to work at it. Read what he has to say about his interest in space sciences.

ISRO Award For Lander Design
ISRO Award For Lander Design

Today on Rocketeer’s Speak, we hear from Achyut Rajendran, an mechanical engineer from Cochin, who interned with us the last year. He has always had a strong passion for the space sciences and cites Elon Musk as his inspiration. While at Rocketeers, he took a liking to propulsion systems and help us develop a nozzle for our motors. Lets see what he has to say about working in a space science based start up and his interest in space sciences.

Like many rocket science enthusiasts, my passion for rocketry was ignited when I read Elon

Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance. His dream for making humanity a space-faring species is one that stuck with me and revitalized my passion for engineering. Reading that book made me sit up and take notice of space exploration as an area of interest. Hence, when time came during my final year mechanical engineering at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, I looked into doing projects related to rocketry systems. That search led me to Rocketeers.

model rocketry workshop with rocketeers

Working with Rocketeers was a totally new experience for me. From gaining insights into how a

startup is managed to trouble-shooting involved in developing the products, the two months I

spent with them is something I’ll always cherish. It was surreal that I was working on projects that were ingrained in rocketry. It is with pride that I say that I was involved in nozzle design and fabrication. I designed a few conical nozzles which were then fabricated and tested in Sivakasi, where the model rocket motors are tested. Designing a nozzle from scratch gave me insights into how design and technology play a vital role, even in making something as large as a launch vehicle.

Model rocket by achyut

The highlight of the whole experience was when I helped conduct a model rocketry workshop with the team in a remote village in Tamil Nadu. The joy and wonder on the children’s faces when the model rockets they had made themselves rose a hundred feet into the air is something I still remember.

When I came back to college, I was inspired to start an aerospace club, called CUSAT, in my college. I guess my enthusiasm was infectious and it was not long before I had a few friends who were keen on taking this forward. We also participated in a model rocketry competition, where we launched a rocket to a height of 600m. We built a model rocket with a mock system, however the event was cancelled in the last moment. As a part of the club’s activities, I also organized an inter planetary rover workshop in association with Space Development Nexus, where a mobile rovers were built with complete sensory capabilities.

I also led another team that signed up for the ISRO Lander Design competition called “Touch the Jovian moon”, where we had to design a lander to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Working on this was a four month long gruelling process. Added pressure was that the judges were all ISRO scientists. However, our hardwork and dedication paid off and we were placed in the top 5 teams of the country. 

After my graduation, I did a few research projects at IIST where I got to work in the supersonic lab on a project on scramjet propulsion and I also got to classify spray characteristics of rocket injectors. My enthusiasm for space science has turned into a passion and currently I am applying to universities for courses in thermal fluid and aerospace engineering, to further my knowledge.

It’s ironic how all of this started with model rocketry for me. Model rocketry is an activity that sadly is still in its infancy in India. It holds the potential to bring more children into STEM fields and inspire them to keep learning science. Rocketeers is pioneering that vision with their activities and programs , be it the rocketry labs they’re setting up in schools or the model rocketry workshops. I have high hopes for them and wish them all the best.

Long March 7: Ice Arrow

The Chinese space agency has lofty plans for the future and their new workhorse, Long March 7, features predominantly in them.

As Wang Xiaojun sat at his table exhausted by the day’s efforts at China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), his eyes were drawn to the plaque with his name on it. Below his name big, bold letters declared “Project Manager”. Since 2008, he had been leading a team on dedicated scientists and designers to working towards making the next workhorse of the chinese space program. The pressure was immense. He and his project deputy manager, Zhang Tao, had put in everything they got to get this project going on the right track. The ask was big and he know his team was up for the challenge. The Long March 7 would be everything the Chinese space program needed and more.

The project started in 2008. It started off as a project to develop a replacement for the Long March 2F, which was the then workhorse of the rocket fleet. It’s replacement would account for almost 70% of all Chinese launches. CALT was charged with the task and owing to their stellae track record there was no reason to be majorly concerned. With the acquisition of the RD-120 technology and development of the YF-100 and YF-115 engines, the original plan was to re-engine the Long March 2F. This would involve a “simple” change of fuel from N2O4/UDMH to a LOX/kerosene propellant and the result would be better thrust engines and improved performance. If only rocket science was that “simple”.

The proposed changes lead to such complexity that the project had to be restructured. Moreover, a parallel project, the Long March 5, was aiming to achieve similar results. Hence, a decision was made to merge the two projects. This meant a marriage of high reliability and flight legacy components of the Long MArch 2F with the new technologies of the Long March 5.

In 2010, the project name was officially changed to Long March 7. The project included many firsts for CALT. It required the implementation of 11 new technologies and was the first time the whole process was developed in digital 3D with CAD and CAM. The project also proved the capability of indigenous avionics.

The Long march 7 or Chang Zheng 7 is a two stage, medium lift, liquid fuelled carrier rocket capable of carrying 13,500 Kg into Low Earth Orbit. The Long March 7 has the modular stages of the original Long March 5 project. In fact, its first stage is the same module as the LM-5 boosters. It also shares tank diameters and engines with the Long March 6, but the design groups were different. The basic Long March 7 can be reconfigured by varying the number of boosters or enhanced by the addition of upper stages. These stages allow more mission flexibility, like direct injection to higher orbits or multiple orbit deployment. The additional stages include the Yuanzheng-1A and a Hydrogen stage

The Long March 7 can use 0, 2 or 4 boosters. They are powered by a single oxidizer-rich staged combustion YF-100 engine. Each boosters supplies 1,200 kN (270,000 lbf) at sea level and 1,340 kN (300,000 lbf) in vacuum of thrust. Its specific impulse is 300 seconds (2.9 km/s) at sea level and 335 seconds (3.29 km/s) in vacuum. Each module has its own single axis thrust vector control, and thus it required a special design in the control systems of the rocket to coordinate all the rocket’s nozzles. The level of customization the LM 7 provides is ideal to use the same vehicle for different launches, hence optimizing costs.

Interestingly, Long March 7 rocket booster created a fireball visible from areas of Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and California on the evening of July 27, 2016; its disintegration was widely reported on social media, and the uncontrolled re-entry of such a five-ton object was regarded as a rare event.

So far the LM7 has had only 2 launches with both being successful. The Chinese have big plans for the Long March 7 with it playing a critical role in the Chinese Space Station. The Long March 7  was used to launch the Tianzhou robotic cargo spacecraft, as a precursor to the Chinese Space Station plans. Eventually, it will be capable of placing a 5,500-kilogram payload into a sun-synchronous orbit.

As all this flashed before Wang Xiaojun’s eyes, he let out a smile. His eyes moved to a schematic of the Long March 7. He still remembered the day when the team gathered to give the vehicle a nickname. It was inspired by the “simple” fuel change problem they faced. He let out another smile. He liked the name….”Ice Rocket”!

Model Rockets in India :Launch Update 2.0

From hurdles to accolades, it’s been a long journey. Along the way, we interacted with thousands of students, partners and teachers who have supported us and helped us grow. It’s now time to take things a notch higher.

Hello everyone,

” A very warm welcome to you all, and to our experienced Rocketeers, welcome back. It’s been a long time since we’ve have talked to you and boy do we have news to share”We created our rockets in mid 2015 and since then we have launched more than 35000 Typhoon model rockets housing B-class motors with over students from across the country, ranging from different backgrounds and age groups. Through all of this, there were only two things that remained constant: First, our aim and philosophy to introduce students to practical understanding based study methodologies for science and math and second, to make that process fun. We have received an overwhelming response for our efforts from students, teachers, parents, principals and academicians alike. We are so very grateful and we thank you all for the love.

During this time we have interacted with over 1,20,000 students and so many out of them inspired us to enable them to live the dreams of their young minds. These dreams share the same passions as ours do. The dreams of a vast and infinite future. The dreams of humans as a space-faring species. The dreams of space travel and colonisation of planets.

The children of today live in beautiful times. They will see within their lifetime not only the first human landing, but also efforts to set up human habitat on our celestial neighbour. They live on the precipice of a time when space science will enable technologies and applications never thought of or imagined before from sectors such as agriculture, communication, data analytics, disaster management and prediction, energy, travel and tourism and many more. Not only will the students of today see these technologies in their lifetimes but they will be the ones driving them as we build more and more capabilities to access space. Add to that the advances the Indian space program, ISRO has made in the present. What with its impressive track record of successful projects including the Mangalyaan and the upcoming Gaganyaan, space has become very accessible. The children live in an exploratory age which has arrived again after almost 400 years.

To bring the dream of space closer, to take students to the age of rockets, satellites and space travel, to build a world where space is as accessible as our skies, to conceive these technologies and more, we are creating a tool for enthusiasts, students, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. We present to you:

“ROCKETEERS RESEARCH INSTITUTE”

Our secret Sauce/USP is our curriculum and content design philosophy . We call it Experiential Learning. We have inculcated into our curriculum of experiential learning, an ever increasing plethora of industry professionals, Experts, Academics, Scientists and NewSpace pioneers. We incorporate their case studies into our curriculum to make the program industry relevant, oriented and also to keep it updated to the latest best practices in space tech. For our Cubesat curriculum we are already consulting over 30 ISRO scientists and more than 20 private space industries .

We are also working on formulating end to end solutions for :

● Space technology centric K12 & STEM education for schools

● Model Rocketry, CanSats and DIY Education for students & Enthusiasts

● Satellite and sounding rocket projects for colleges

● Workshops, courses & fellowships for professionals

● Skilling, training and recruitment solutions for Newspace industry.

We have Mr. JS Mann (Honorary Trustee, Indian Public School’s Conference) and Dr. Issaac

Kurien( Dean, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, & Ex- HOD, Aerospace

Engineering, IIT Bombay) as our education mentors.

All of this did create quite some noise and we couldn’t be happier for it. We are featured in many portals like Economic Times, The Hindu, Astronaut Today, The Week and many more. We have also been listed in Economic Times’ 50 startups to watch out for in 2017, where we were the first startup chosen in the Technology Category . Another feather on our hat is that we are one of the top 80 startups from India at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. We are also proud to launch our line up of model rockets. We are making India’s first indigenously developed range of solid fuel propelled model rockets and associated kits. These kits come complete with all the materials and instructions you will need to assemble and fly your model rockets. With the simplest kits starting at Rs.890, model rocketry is in the palm of your hands. What’s more, these kits are available online at our store as well at https://www.rocketeers.in/shop-rockets.

We have put in years of research, hard work and passion into these kits. They have been painstakingly designed to give you an experience like no other. Your purchase of these kits would mean a lot to us and also give us the impetus to keep working on coming up with exciting new models.

We hope we receive the same love from you as we did for our endeavours till now. Over the course of the next month we will be introducing you to the new set of our programs :

● New range of Model Rocketry and CanSat Workshops

● Much wider range of DIY kits

● Rocketeers Space Technology Labs for schools

● Rocketeers Space Leadership Fellowship

We will also be talking about the exciting developments in space tech across the world with articles about the industry, entrepreneurship in space, New Space, Space Policy and Laws.

Not just that, we will also start conducting competitive programs for students who excel in our programs with opportunities to work on actual flight hardware like sounding rockets and cubesats.

All of this just reiterates our motto:

“Rocket Science in every Classroom”

It’s been a long journey to get to where we are now and we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Through all the hoops and hurdles we had to get over, our passion for the work we do has kept us going. We have so much more to do and so much more to give. We are reaching for the stars…literarily. Until then, like always, stay “Nuts About Rockets”!

GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle): The Untamable Beast

8th May 2013. Launchpad Two. It was 11:25 in the morning at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The ISRO team was on the edge of their seats with anxiety. The last time they had launched the GSLV, 2 years back, ended up being a partial failure. There was no room for error here now. No compromise. Success of this launch would mean exponential increase in India’s space research capabilities. This needed to go right. However, were the issues plaguing ISRO the last time sorted out?. What’s more they had added an extra 285 Kg to the payload. Will the launch be a success? Expectations were high. The world was watching.

Come 11:28 am and we had a successful lift off. Within minutes, the mission outcome was declared successful. The entire command centre erupted with joyous cheer, the team hugging each other and smiling from ear to ear.

The success was definitely worth celebrating. The GSLV consolidated our position as a space faring nation and instilled strength in our research capabilities. GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle ) is our very own homegrown, desi 3 stage expendable launch system operated by ISRO. It has the capability to launch satellites into geosynchronous orbits where orbital periods are the same as the earth rotation.

The cryogenic engines for each of the 3 stages of the rocket are built a short 10 minutes walk from the Rocketeers office at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Bangalore. Initially, the 3rd stage engines were to be procured from Russia, but Russia backed out due growing global political pressures. It was then that ISRO pulled up its socks and in 1994 initiated the Cryogenic Upper Stage Project to develop the required cryogenic engines inhouse. Hence, it is no surprise that the GSLV is has a special corner in ISRO’s heart. It is the culmination of decades of hard work, dedication and sheer grit to prove our space might.

The GSLV has 3 variants. The Mk1 had a capability of launching a payload of 1500 Kg into geosynchronous orbit. Through various enhancements, majorly in chamber pressure and burn time, the latest Mk2 has the capacity to launch 2500 Kg into geosynchronous orbit. In fact, for launches from 2018, a 6% increased thrust version of the Vikas engine was developed and will be used in further missions as well. The Mk3 is a further enhanced version of the Mk2 with an ability to carry payload of upto 4000 Kg into geosynchronous orbit.

Interestingly, the GSLV has had a chequered past. During the initial years from the first launch to 2014, the launcher has had only 2 successful launches out of 7. However, the missions since then have been a resounding success, making the world take notice of our potential and frugal engineering driven inventiveness.

ISRO has a lot planned with the GSLV with 6 more missions planned in the pipeline, the earliest one taking place at the end of the year where the payload will the the GISAT 1, an Indian geo-imaging satellite for providing images quickly during disasters.

Owing to its chequered past, the GSLV has gained a reputation for itself and is ironically nicknamed “ The Untamable Beast”.

Rocketry and our Future By Gitika Gorthi

Hello everyone,

Today, we introduce you to Gitika Gorthi. Gitika is a 13 year old studying in the US who is a patron of Rocketeers. She has been passionate about space and rocketry since a very young age and is working towards spreading her love for rockets and help other love rocketry as well. She is definitely nuts about rockets, so much so that she has joined the National Association of Rocketry, USA and has also conducted a few workshops on rocketry in orphanages in Andhra Pradesh.

She loves the work we do and supports us in any way she can. Lets see what she has to say about rockets and our undeniably associated future with them. Read on…

Rocketry… what does it mean to you? To me, rocketry is the future for developing our society further. Rockets are not only a method of exploring the space, but the best way to transport technology outside the Earth. Our civilization runs on technology, mainly satellites that are launched using rockets. We know quite well that rockets have changed the world completely and have given us new eyes to see the universe. Rocket technology has completely evolved our way of living and will continue to do so forever. Ever since its invention during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), it has brought man good. Man now knows more about space than ever before and will continue to explore this ever expanding area. It is, thus, our responsibility to inform the future generations of the importance of rocketry and teach them how to construct rockets. This is where organizations like Indian Rocketry Association, National Association of Rocketry, or Ignited Thinkers come into play. It is organizations like them that bring rocket enthusiasts into the workforce (ISRO, NASA, etc.) in order to continue building our civilization forward.

Rockets have many applications and here i shall explain a few of them. Rocket enthusiasts use rockets for high-speed, high-power transportation both within Earth’s atmosphere and out in space. Rockets are especially valuable for launching probes and satellites, for military use, atmospheric research, and space travel.

Rockets carry crewless spacecraft called space probes on long voyages, to explore the universe we live in and to understand the origin of life. These rockets also carry scientific instruments that gather information on the subject and transmit data back to Earth. Rockets lift human-made satellites into space to orbit the Earth. Some orbiting satellites gather information for scientific research, provide communication, help weather forecasting, and also navigation. You may not notice, but many of the things you do daily require satellites, and it is made possible through rockets. To get this into perspective, let us talk about our daily lives. Do you do any of the these: check the forecast to decide what to wear in the morning; use the GPS when you are lost; or communicate with those on the other side of the world? If you do, you are using satellites, and you are in need of rockets. Rockets are the reason for us to be able to do many of the things we do.

Apart from daily tasks, rockets are also used for military purposes. The importance of rockets was understood during World War 2 and the Cold War. The word missile is usually known for a “self-propelled guided weapon system,” but it may also refer to “any thrown or launched object.” Missiles are powered by an engine, usually either a type of rocket or jet engine. Militaries of different countries use missiles as a form of threat or as a way to win a battle. Missiles show power and mostly determine a country’s military strength.

Coming back to the science aspect of rockets, they are used for scientific research and space travel. The most remarkable research done by scientists with rockets is in the field of exploring the Earth’s atmosphere. The most common rocket used for this type of research is a sounding rocket (also known as a research rocket). A sounding rocket is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its short flights. You may be wondering why sounding rockets are more commonly used, and the answer is because it has more advantages than many can imagine. Sounding rockets are advantageous for some research due to their low cost, short lead time (sometimes less than six months) and their ability to research areas inaccessible to either balloons or satellites. Now for space travel, the more exciting type of rockets are used. You may have read news of different powerful rockets getting launched into space and doing various tasks. To understand the basics, you should know that rockets are launched spacecrafts carrying astronauts to their predetermined location for research. The primary goals in space travel currently are: to go further into the solar system than before; send more humans out to the moon and/or Mars; to increase the number of astronauts and research that is done in the International Space Station (ISS) currently in space; to have a solar probe to touch the sun and gain more insight on its properties; and to most importantly, understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. I hope I have helped you learn more about the importance of rocketry and that you continue to develop your knowledge on this topic. Please raise awareness on this topic, as rocketry is the pathway for developing our civilization further.

Look forward to my next topic, careers in rocketry! Rocketry will be a job in high demanding, and let me tell you that there are limitless options for a career in rocketry. If you have any comments or questions or would like me to write on other topics or would just like to help increase awareness in rocketry, contact me via mail at spreadingrocketrytogether@gmail.com! We are always open to collaborating with new organizations or other rocket enthusiasts!


“A Hitchhiker’s guide to Model Rocketry”: The what, why and how of it all!

Model Rockets are a great way to learn and practically experience the fundamentals of science. Here is a simple guide to basics of model rocketry.

The vast expanse of space appears to us as a wondrous and mysterious bastion, and it is

probably this mystery that intrigues us. Mankind’s efforts to understand and charter space is

never ending and so is our fascination for it. It is thus no surprise that the very vehicles that take us to space receive similar adulation and adoration. Rockets are a perfect amalgamation of science, technology and mathematics and the perfect symmetry and a harmonious balance among the three create perfect ones. Rocket science is no longer a just term used to express complexity. With the increase in awareness and the Indian advances in space technology, model rocketry is quickly ballooning into more than just a hobby.

What are model rockets?

Essentially, model rockets are miniaturized working representation of the large rockets,

designed to reach low altitudes and be recovered by various means. They work on the same

basic principle as their larger counterparts albeit simplified and deconstructed for a smaller

scale. The model rockets differ based on the heights they reach and their recovery systems.

This in turn influences the payload they are able to carry, their size, fuel required etc.

Model rockets are classified mainly based on the motor used. They are:

Class (Base 26)

Total Impulse (N.s)

US Requirements

Micro

0–0.3125

 

1/4A

0.3126–0.625

 

1/2A

0.626–1.25

 

A

1.26–2.50

 

B

2.51–5.00

 

C

5.01–10.0

 

D

10.01–20.0

 

E

20.01–40.0

 

F

40.01–80.0

 

G

80.01–160

The largest model rocket motor according to TRA and NAR.

H

160.01–320

Level 1 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR. Under 125g propellant is Federal Aviation Administration exempt.

I

320.01–640

 

J

640.01–1,280

Level 2 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR.

K

1,280.01–2,560

 

L

2,560.01–5,120

 

M

5,120.01–10,240

Level 3 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR.

N

10,240.01–20,560

 

O

20,560.01–40,960

 

P

40,960–81,920

FAA/AST Permit or License required.

Q

81,920–163,840

 

R

163,840–327,680

 

S

327,680–655,360

The largest motor used by amateurs.[6]

The Wikipedia page on model rockets hosts quite a lot of information on this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_rocket#cite_ref-8

What makes them different from just a toy is the level of skill and technical knowledge required. A basic model rocket comprises of a removable engine (which is usually filled with solid fuel), a recovery system and recovery wadding on the inside. These are housed in an air frame tube that has a nose (where generally the payload goes) and fins for aerodynamic control.

To have an interactive understanding of the basic model rocket components, the link below

helps:

https://www.apogeerockets.com/Tech/Parts_of_a_Rocket

Now, there are enhancements to these basic parts that creates a better rocket. Model rocket

enthusiasts are excited by the opportunity rocketry provides for creativity. Coupled with the its inherent DIY nature, many materials, fuel mixtures, body design and recovery systems can be explored. There are however, guidelines that need to be followed. Many countries have their own institutions that monitor, regulate and certify the techniques and procedures. Although India doesn’t have a independent governing body or model rocketry as of now, these other agencies can be referred to where the basic guidelines remain broadly the same and primary focus is on safety and precautions.

Why build model rockets?

Quite simply put, it’s a excellent way to learn basic math and science. It is fascinating to

experience something seemingly daunting like rocket science, being broken down into simple math, physics and chemistry. Both children as well as adults get a hands-on approach to learning these fundamentals and can see the their hard work yield physical results that soar through the skies. Moreover, rockets themselves have applications that far exceed those that meet the eye. Not just space exploration, rockets are used in weather forecast, communication, navigation, agriculture, to name a few. It is hence intriguing to understand the scale of impact and in our own very backyard, try to replicate it on a smaller scale. If we think about it, many of the private space research organization started out as mere hobby groups for model rockets and look where they are now.

Let us consider Planet Labs . Set up in 2010 by a few ex-NASA scientists and physicists in a

garage, Planet Labs uses space to help life on earth. They miniature satellites called doves

which they launch into an orbit around the earth. These doves are equipped with hi-res cameras and telescopes that capture images of specific sections of the earth. All the satellites collectively can create a periodic up-to date picture of the earth, which is then used for climate monitoring, crop yield prediction, urban planning, and disaster response. In fact, in Feb 2017, 88 of these doves were launched using our very own PSLV.

There’s also Rocket Lab , a private Aerospace manufacturer that make launch vehicles that will carry payloads into low altitude orbits. They provide the opportunity for others to use their launch vehicles to put instruments into orbits.

But, perhaps the most convincing argument for the “why” of it all is that it’s just damn good fun. What’s not to love? You get to launch rockets that you have worked on yourself. The sheer process of failure and eventual success is a high like no other. Plus, you will end up meeting other model rocket enthusiasts who, in our humble and unbiased opinion, are some of the best people on the planet.

How to start to building model rockets?

To put it bluntly, there is no right way to get started with model rocketry. It is similar to

asking what book to read first when starting off to read seriously. Like with any other hobby,

there a few basic steps one could take to delve deeper. A simple online search brings up a

tsunami of information. It’s very important to understand the basics first and then start applying, which will help you appreciate the effort that you will have to put in. Use an encyclopedia or the vast resources on the internet to grasp the fundamentals.

Additionally, you could also read up on how model rocketing shapes up in other parts of the

world in order to draw inspiration.

Listed below are a few links that might come handy while doing your basic research

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_rocket#cite_ref-8

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/rocket/rktflight.html

http://www.arocketry.net/faq.html

https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0903/0903.1555.pdf

https://www.teamten.com/lawrence/projects/video-camera-on-model-rocket/

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/rocket/rktengperf.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBSEq8BjCSg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HESOat2iPzU

To start off initially, you could use simple DIY kits that are easily available these days. We,

Rocketeers, also have model rocket kits available for sale at our online store . Most of these kits come with simple instructions and all the equipment you will need, including safe to use fuel cartridges.

[ Link: https://www.rocketeers.in/shop-rockets ]

Interaction and networking with like minded people who share the same passion will heighten your model rocketing experiences. Sharing experiences and knowledge will help you be a part of a community and will make it a more rewarding and engaging journey.

Utmost importance must be given to safety. Since combustible materials are being handled,

make sure that all the necessary protective measures are taken to ensure safety not just for

yourself, but for those around you all well. These safety instruction are also available online or with the kits you purchase. It is strongly recommended that the safety guidelines be studied before planning to build or launch a model rocket. The link the National Association of Rocketry safety hand book is given below

http://nar.org/NARmrsc.html

The possibilities are endless and so is the joy of model rockets. You would have realized by

now that there’s no real elaborate procedure to start off model rocketing. It is literally as

simple as Googling it. We have learnt the Newtonian basics in school. As you delve deeper, you will realize that there is so much more than just what we learnt as children.

Shavit: The Israeli Wonder Comet

Israel’s geopolitical history notwithstanding, the country’s space agency has had many successful space missions, all thanks to their wonder comet, The Shavit!

Israel’s space dreams were conceived in the hallowed halls of Tel Aviv University in early 1960s. The National Committee for Space Research (NCSR) was formed by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities to increase research activities across the academic communities in Israel. While at the time establishing a space program was not particularly one of its goals, the committee ended up developing infrastructure for space exploration and sciences. However, due to the growing geopolitical pressures Israel was subjected to by its neighbors, it was only in 1983 that the Israel Space Agency (ISA) was set up.

The jewel in the ISA’s crown is their only launch vehicle, The Shavit, making Israel one of only eight countries in the world that both build their own satellites and launch their own launchers. The Shavit, meaning comet in hebrew, is a three stage, solid fuel rocket that allows low-cost and high-reliability launch of micro/mini satellites.They are launched from Palmachim Airbase into highly retrograde orbits over the Mediterranean Sea to prevent debris coming down in populated areas and also to avoid flying over nations hostile to Israel to the east; this results in a lower payload-to-orbit than east-directed launches would allow and is a practice that has continued ever since.

The development of the Shavit began in 1982 and is designed to carry a payload of around 350Kg. The first two stages are based on the nuclear armed Jericho intercontinental ballistic missile, confirming the military’s involvement in the development of its space program.

The Shavit has had a total of 10 launches with the first one taking place on 19th September 1988 and the last one taking place on 13th September 2016. Out of these only 2 launches were failures where the vehicle failed to enter orbit. One such failure in 2004, resulted in the destruction of the $100 million Ofeq 6 spy satellite. Israel used IndianPSLV in the subsequent launch, while upgrading the Shavit launcher.

Interestingly, South Africa has license produced the Shavit in 1989 for its own space research purposes on the RSA series of launch vehicles. However, many years of development and testing later, the program was cancelled in 1994.

The Shavit’s payload is usually the different variations of its in house reconnaissance satellite, the Ofeq. However, Israel is strongly considering using the Shavit for commercial launches as well in the future.

Is it any wonder then, that the Shavit is called the ”Israeli Wonder Comet”?