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The Aerospace program at Clark is excited and proud to compete. Participation in this Spaceport America Cup provides opportunities to Clark community college students that very few other community colleges can provide. The program has generated considerable support from not only the student government, but also from highly influential individuals and companies within Washington state. For years Clark Aerospace has been recruiting first and second year college students to explore the field of rocketry. Participating in the Spaceport America Cup helps students discover a passion and lay down a roadway to success.


Every year Clark Aerospace takes what was learned from previous designs and organizational decisions and improve upon them. In the past there had been too few students working on the rocket and the payload, resulting in sub-optimal delivery. This year the Electrical and Computer Science club at Clark College are working together with the Aerospace program to work on the payload, enabling the team to provide a superior payload relative to previous years. This year’s payload will be of a functional 3U form-factor that: is manufactured with industry standard tolerances, has Artificial Intelligence via a neural network the will be able to recognize and classify space debris, use reaction wheels and a cold gas thruster to adjust attitude for optimal positioning of solar arrays, and more.


This year’s rocket team also has an increased number of team members. This allows for better time management and for students to maintain satisfactory academic performance, while creating a competitive rocket system. The rocket that will fly in the 2019 Spaceport America Cup will be less massive and lower in cost, while potentially achieving a smaller delta from our target apogee compared to last year. The air brake system is being rethought and improved. Additional hands on the project will allow Clark Aerospace to deliver a more complete rocket system to display to the judges, and to the world.


We ranked 19th in launch performance in 2018 Spaceport America cup and are confident we will improve in 2019. Thank you for your time.


Clark Aerospace


The Numbers

Team Number: 91

Rocket Name: CCS Shamrell


Airframe Length: 127 inches

Airframe diameter: Transition from 6 to 4 inches

Fin-span: 14 inches

Vehicle weight: ~ 46.7 pounds

Propellant weight: 11.16 pounds

Payload weight: 8.8 pounds

Liftoff weight: ~ 66.6 pounds

Number of stages: 1

Propulsion system: CTI M2245

Liftoff thrust-weight ratio:  ~ 11:1

Launch rail length: 17 feet

Launch rail departure velocity: ~ 122 feet per second

Predicted apogee: 10,000 feet


The payload team has made several design changes to the CubeSat in the last month. First, the CubeSat’s form factor has been reduced to a 3U; after re-evaluating the power requirements of the payload it was decided to remove the 1U power bank from its end. Secondly, the CubeSat’s virtual mission has been updated. Rather than debris detection, the CubeSat’s mission will be to track and de-orbit specific targets. In theory, the CubeSat would be deployed from a satellite with a programmed trajectory to intercept a target and push the object toward Earth. During the journey to its target, the payload will use its attitude adjustment systems including reaction wheels and gas thrusters to maximize its solar charge. To recognize and track its target, the CubeSat will employ the OpenCV API. It will also send image/video data to the ground station, which will be analyzed with the TensorFlow API. The CubeSat will use the results of this analysis to orient and move itself toward its target. After making contact with the target, the CubeSat will fire its rear thruster and push it toward Earth.


To assist the launch vehicle team, a custom graphical user interface (GUI) program for monitoring the rocket is being developed. The GUI program will receive data through long distance radio from the payload including GPS coordinates, altitude (TeleMetrum altimeter), and 3D flight trajectory. Data from the Payload’s inertial measurement unit, such as velocity and orientation, will also be sent to aid in monitoring the trajectory of the rocket. The GUI will also display the temperature (and in some cases amperage) of the payload and avionics bay. The interface is being designed with a focus on simplicity: the goal is for the interface to be easily readable by users while retaining as much information as possible. 

Early payload revision


A standard dual deployment recovery system will be used: a 3 foot drogue will deploy at apogee, followed by a 10 foot main delpoyed at 1000ft AGL. The intended drogue decent rate is 100 ft/s, and main decent rate is 20 ft/s. All sections of the rocket will remain tethered through touch down. The parachutes will be deployed by igniting black powder. The parachutes will be protected in nomex protection bags. Ample length of one inch tubular nylon shock cord will be used.


There will be two completely seperate deployment circuits. Each circuit will have its own altimeter and be powered by its own battery source. One circuit will act as the main deployment circuit. A secondary backup circuit will be programmed for delayed deployment times, relative to the primary circuit. Flight proven TeleMetrum v2.0 altimeters will be used. The altimeters will use barometric pressure to determine altitude.


The Air Brake system of the rocket consists of  three blades, a captive external linear actuator, and a three bar ligament system. The linear actuator converts the rotary motion of the NEMA 24 stepper motor into approximately 800N of linear force, along the axis of the rocket. The force of the actuator is then pulled through a three bar pivot system to create a crank that allows the linear actuator to pull the blades out of the rocket, with a maximum angle of attack of 70 degrees.

To automate the deployment of the airbrakes, a PIC18F1220 PICmicro microcontroller will be used. It will be given information about the altitude of the rocket and activate an electric motor to deploy and retract the airbrakes. It will be preprogrammed with functions and tables to determine when the airbrakes are needed.


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