UCSD plans space launch

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ucsdrocket1The countdown has begun for a proposed launch next March of a rocket designed and built by UCSD students. Engineering students at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego, in La Jolla, are trying to make their school the very first university in the U.S. to successfully send a rocket into space. The attempt is being made with the help of funding from both the Navy and aeronautics companies.

The tw0-stage device is being designed by 40+ members of UCSD’s Triton Rocket Club. They plan to have the rocket manufactured and ready to fly by the spring of 2015. It will be launched from a site in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, also known as the location of the Burning Man gatherings.

The isolated launch site in the emptiness of the Silver State was selected so that the 25 foot long projectile could rise to its hoped-for height of 62 miles, and subsequently safely return to the ground in an undeveloped part of the terrain.ucsdrocket2

There have been numerous attempts by colleges to complete the task, but none have yet met with success. Both Boston University and Southern Cal are currently involved in similar projects, but the team from La Jolla is hoping to be the first to finish the job.

The accomplishment of designing, fabricating, and successfully launching and recovering a rocket has not yet been met by an academic institution because of its inherent difficulty. Financing is required from an outside source, in the case of this UCSD mission, by the California Space Grant Consortium, the U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based Echelon II Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, ATA Engineering, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin. The project will end up costing approximately $10,000.

Additionally, there are many factors that can go wrong or be done incorrectly. Even when all other pieces of the aeronautical puzzle are put together, something uncontrollable, such as the weather at the time of the launch, can cause failure. Building a rocket that is too powerful could cause the device to explode before it reaches the required height needed for success.

For more information about the Triton Rocket Club at UCSD please visit

Thanks to Nico Montoya, President of the Triton Rocket Club and College Intern Technical at Northrop Grumman(AS)  for the photos.

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