student team with Baedor

The student team with Baedor, its entry for the NASA Student Launch on April 4.

Michael Mercier | UAH

A student team at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) successfully launched a rocket with a rover as its payload in a national NASA Student Launch that was shortened by the COVID-19 virus.

Named Baedor, the rocket that launched on March 14 in Woodville, Ala., used a Level 2 Aerotech L2200G solid fuel motor. It is 136 inches long and 6.17 inches in diameter. It weighs 61.5 pounds with a loaded motor and payload.

"This year our rocket reached an apogee of 4,454 feet above ground level," says Nicholas Roman, the project manager and a senior in aerospace engineering from Cullman. The team’s goal was 4,500 feet.

When it landed the rocket successfully deployed its payload, the rover Little Dipper. The rover then was piloted by remote control to a mission collection area. There, Little Dipper used its scoops to collect samples of simulated ice.

"Our rover is designed to run on treads and is symmetric so that it can operate regardless of which side it is deployed on," Roman says

Originally set as a payload demonstration launch before the viral outbreak changed the SLI schedule, instead the flight demonstrated the full mission of the UAH team’s rocket and payload. The SLI final launch previously been set for April 4 at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., was scrubbed.

NASA Student Launch is a research-based, competitive and experiential exploration project that provides relevant and cost-effective research and development to support the Space Launch System, or SLS. The project involves colleges and universities across the nation in an eight-month commitment to design, build, and fly payloads or vehicle components that support SLS.

The UAH team is advised by Dr. David Lineberry, a research engineer at the UAH Propulsion Research Center, and mentored by Jason Winningham, who has assisted rocket launches and advised throughout the project.

Funding has come from the Alabama Space Grant Consortium, the Propulsion Research Center and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Roman says the greatest development challenges have been funding, creating a functioning deployment system that met requirements and the poor weather cancellation of multiple test launch dates. Managing the process has been a learning experience.

"I have learned that a detailed schedule is very important in ensuring that everyone is properly tasked and that work is completed before deadlines," Roman says. "I have also learned to put a large amount of faith in my team as they put incredible amounts of time and effort into this project to ensure it is the best it can possibly be."

Besides Roman, team members are:

  • Joshua Jordan, chief engineer; senior, mechanical engineering, Mount Vernon, Wash.
  • Peter Martin, vehicle team lead; senior, mechanical engineering, Coopersburg, Penn.
  • James Venters, payload team lead; senior, mechanical engineering, Huntsville, Ala.
  • Jessy McIntosh, safety officer; senior, mechanical engineering, Beaufort, N.C.
  • Maggie Hockensmith, technical writing coordinator and vehicle safety deputy; senior, aerospace engineering, Lexington, Ky.
  • Claudia Hyder, payload safety deputy; senior, mechanical engineering, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Patrick Day, project management team; senior, aerospace engineering, Johnson City, Tenn.
  • Will Snyder, project management team; senior, aerospace engineering, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Rodney L Luke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Pleasant Grove, Ala.
  • Roman Benetti, vehicle team; senor, aerospace engineering, Woodbury, Minn.
  • Rachel O’Kraski, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Huntsville, Ala.
  • Ben Lucke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Saint Petersburg, Fla.
  • Jeremy Hart, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Gainesville, Ga.
  • Jacob Zilke, vehicle team; senior, aerospace engineering, Wilmington, N.C.
  • Joseph Agnew, payload team; senior, mechanical engineering, New Market, Ala.
  • Johnathon Jacobs, payload team; senior, aerospace engineering, Valley Head, Ala.
  • Thomas Salverson, payload team; senor, mechanical engineering, Gretna, Neb.
  • Kevin Caruso, payload team; senior, mechanical engineering, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
  • Jacob Moseley, payload team; senior, aerospace engineering, Gaylesville, Ala.