The Rocket Dynamics Society is preparing to launch their hand-made rocket on May 25.
“This isn’t a kit we buy. Everything is hand built by students,” said Brian Bowers, a junior studying mechanical engineering and the society’s president.
Bowers said they design the body, engine casing and even mix the fuel for the rocket.
Bowers and Benjamin Taylor, a senior studying mechanical engineering and the society’s vice-president, said the launches are their favorite parts of being on the team.
“It’s exhilarating,” Taylor said. “It’s really cool to be able to go there and see all of your hours and hours of work being shown off and being a success.”
The team meets twice a week for the rocket competition in the Spaceport America Cup, held in New Mexico in June. According to the Spaceport America Cup website, the competition is “The world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering conference and competition.”
The team did not get to participate last year because their rocket broke in half several hundred feet in the air and was never seen again.
In preparation for the launch on May 25, the team needs to finish building the rocket, test the equipment and alert the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. The FAA determined the launch zone for the rocket and the society needs to alert them 72 hours in advance to get a specific launch time.
“I think everything’s going to work out pretty well,” Taylor said. “It seems like everything’s coming together according to plan. I’m pretty excited.”
The Rocket Dynamics Society welcomes newcomers from anywhere. “Any major can join the rocket team and have a lot of fun,” Bowers said.
Math and engineering experiences are not required to help. They said those inexperienced in engineering could help build the rocket, do research, help with the legal side of working with the FAA or getting permission to get the federal regulated materials to make the rocket’s fuel.
According to the Rocket Dynamics Society information sheet found in the Austin building, the society “was formed to help students develop skills in payload, electronics, aerodynamics/structure and compete … in the competition.”
The society members have found success in the past. One of the founders got a job working at SpaceX by going to a career fair and asking for a job, Bowers said. They asked for his experience and he said he started a rocket society here. “They asked for more information about that and never asked for his transcripts, his GPA or anything. They just hired him on the spot.”
The society was founded in 2012 when several students contacted Russell Daines, a faculty member, wanting to build rockets.