Talking Stone Film

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You see anybody out here walking around on foot, offer them a ride. It’s miserable out here, ok? You guys got water? Yes, sir. Have a great day, guys. [Western Music] So we are here down in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We’re competing in the 2019 Spaceport America Cup, which is where teams from all over the world come together and launch their rockets. [Announcer]
Launch! [Rocket Launching] Bulldog Rocketry was formed in 2013 as a senior design project. And with those initial four students, we went to a regional rocketry competition. We went there our first time and we won. They were looking for an additional challenge. That’s where we came up with going to the International Rocket Engineering Competition. You get to build your own rocket motor and and you have to build your own rocket completely. Challenge accepted. [Energetic Music] We’ve killed it at every single competition we’ve gone to. So we decided to step it up to the big ones. [Rocket Launching] The competition we’re going against is not biased in just the U.S. We got people from Brazil From all walks, from literally, the world. So we are competing against teams that are funded by their governments. They’re given these resources that we don’t have. [Rocket Launching] I think the reason we’re able to compete with them is because of how creative we get with our engineering. When you’re given such a small budget, you’re forced to be creative. You’re forced to be innovative and do these engineering things that other people are doing but in a different way. Ok, get the meeting started, Erik. Come on up here. It’s a new semester, it’s a new you. Finances. We got news on the finances. Ok, here’s the update. We got less money from the Space Grant Program this year. But we still did get a good amount. I don’t remember if it’s like $3,000 … it’s a good amount. We also got $9,000 from the SOG committee. So approximately $12,000. The house has upped their price this year. It looks like that’s going to cost us $3,400 for the week. Plus food, which will cost us $1,200. That’s approximately $4,500 which cuts our rocket budget in half of what I had hoped. We got approximately $1,000 in graphite for the nozzles. We got $2,000 in chemicals for the motors. And then we have about $1,000 left to build the rest of the rocket, which isn’t enough. With the realization of being short cash to build a rocket, these students are very resourceful. They’re a scrappy bunch. I was the kid growing up who wanted to be an astronaut. I was that kid all the way up through high school. Growing up in a small town we really didn’t have many engineering opportunities or STEM opportunities. I was actually able to create a First Robotics team at my high school because we really didn’t have engineering experience there. And so going in to college, I was looking around at the different teams and clubs on campus and I saw the rocketry club and I thought that would be a really good opportunity for me. For me, personally, I never thought I was capable of being an engineer. A lot situations from my upbringing, I’m probably not even supposed to be here. Growing up in a broken home restricts you from getting this far in life and seeing if you’re even worthy. There are a lot of students that end up coming to Bulldog Rocketry looking for a challenge and also looking for a group that would accept them. Last I checked there were 16 countries coming to this competition. in Las Cruces, New Mexico. There’s countries like Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Canada. These countries have excellent students and they have great teams. There’s an interesting little feature about all that though these countries will sponsor their teams. When you have teams like that or teams from the bigger schools like UCLA, USC … Oregon State It’s tough to compete with that kind of money. Because it sets up an inertia of people involved, companies involved, companies supporting with with knowledge and materials. [We’re trying to do it ourselves.] The students have been very resourceful in finding ways to get the materials that we need. So we have a 14-foot-long rocket. Here are some of the components with the nose cone and the body tube. We have two more components after that with the fiberglass window and our motor tube. It was a little lumpy. And we used a $3 can of spray paint to paint it up. But it functioned just fine. We were able to put our electronics on the inside and everything worked. When you do a project like this, a lot of things can go wrong. A lot of human error can factor in to it. The heat could be a factor. Setting up could be a factor. Health issues could be a factor. Rattlesnakes … could be a factor. So launch day we’ll get there at about 4 a.m. in the morning. Gates open at 6, we usually get there a couple hour early because it is such a race to get there first. Just because the earlier you get to launch, the better off you are. The heat during the middle of the day it can melt electronics. It can destroy your rocket as it’s sitting on the launchpad. We’ll have to get a bunch of headlamps as it will be completely pitch dark. We put it together in the trailer. Luckily it will be about 60 degrees then. About 30 degrees colder than what it usually is in the daytime. And we’ll take our rocket out, put it in the back of the truck. Send it. So we’re going to the judge stand to get our final checkoffs so we can go out on the range and load up our rocket onto the rail. And then from there we’ll launch our rocket and recover it. Correct, it’s in our trailer. It’s 150 pounds. We get there early, we set everything up. We make sure the judges have looked at everything and deemed it safe. Where are your rail buttons? On the bottom? Yeah, correct. There’s one back here. On the aft end of the motor at the very end. And then one coupling between the aluminum and the fiberglass. I think I’ve gotten about four hours of sleep in the last two weeks making sure everything is right. So it’s definitely a little bit of stress involved. But it’s good stress because it enables you to do more than you would ever be able to do. You got the two ignitors? Correct. Ok, l guess you are good to go. Awesome, thank you, sir. [Tense Music] Here we go, folks. Hop on. I just pray that everything goes as planned because we worked all year for 60 seconds essentially. [Tense Music] So we are in the 30,000 foot student researched and developed category. Which means our target altitude is 30,000 feet. And that is literally at airline level. So they clear out the range. We do it in the middle of nowhere so we don’t have to accidentally hit an airplane or something. Yeah, just tap it in. Alright, so when we take it off the launch rail we have to be absolutely certain not to hit this again. So green flag is up, which means all the teams can come out here and load their rockets if they’re ready. So that’s what we have going on right now, we’re just doing finishing touches. We’re going to take out the stuff we have stuffed in the bottom of the motor, put in the ignitor and then raise the rocket. Then we’ll be able to launch here pretty soon. It feels very breath taking. So hopefully all human error is at the minimum and it will launch so we can finally breathe. Everyone is kind of tense right now. I just hope everything went well. It’s either, I want to see it explode or I want to see it work perfectly. Nothing in between because it’s cool either way, right? [Announcer]
Seven, [Announcer]
six, [Announcer]
five, [Announcer]
four, [Announcer]
three, [Announcer]
two, [Announcer]
one, [Announcer]
launch! [Rocket Launching] When the rockets do launch it sound like something you’ve never heard. It sounds like a fighter jet. [Telemetry Transmitter]
20,000 feet. [Telemetry Transmitter]
22,000. [Telemetry Transmitter]
24,000. [Telemetry Transmitter]
26,000. [Telemetry Transmitter]
28,000. [Telemetry Transmitter]
30,000. [Cheering] [Telemetry Transmitter]
32,000. She’s still going! [Telemetry Transmitter]
The apogee deployment charge has fired. [Telemetry Transmitter]
Max altitude: 32,829 feet. [Telemetry Transmitter]
Max velocity: Mach 1.56 [Telemetry Transmitter]
Peak acceleration was 6.3 G’s. [Telemetry Transmitter]
Apogee was Southeast at a distance of .82 miles. That was wonderful. It went just like we wanted. What more could you ask? That was great. Our rocket went up perfectly straight. It went up to 32,000 feet. Drogue deployed perfectly. Main deployed perfectly. It’s about a mile and a half away. Looking forward to recovering it. So I pressed the button to launch. It was super fun. Very umm … yeah just very satisfying. So right now we’re just rejoicing, getting some coffee. And we’ll get a team together for recovery. [Peaceful Music] We do have several students that without any background really available to them in their younger years, they are able to just come as they are and excel. They truly do excel. Because we’re asking them to bring them, their whole selves to the team. Their own experiences are plenty. Their own ideas usually are very good. You don’t have to have a particular background from a young age on up or particular experiences in high school for instance, or even middle school, to be successful as an engineer or a university student. You just have to look for opportunities to get involved. And Bulldog Rocketry accomplishes that for many of these students that just have never had the chance to participate in anything like this.

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