our road to nasa
Updated: Sep 24
2022's TARC competition and how it got us to the Student Launch.
Picture: 2021-22 team members setting up rocket on launch pad before flight.
What We did
In 2021, we began our journey to design and create a rocket to compete with in the 2022 The American Rocketry Challenge (TARC) competition. The Team met every Monday night to design and build the rocket.
The requirements were that the rocket could not exceed 650 grams at liftoff. It could be no less than 25.6 inches long. The rocket had to have two different body tubes of different diameters. The rocket had to contain two raw chicken eggs, put in sideways, as the payload. Finally, the flight duration had to be in a window of 41-44 seconds, with an altitude goal of 835 feet.
The members built the whole rocket from scratch. This meant building the body tubes by rolling up carbon fiber and layering it with epoxy, designing the fins on a 3D printer, and many other innovative processes. The team spent several months building and perfecting their rocket to have a steady and constant flight.
The competition is scored by points. The more points earned, the worse it is. Striving for a 0 point (perfect) flight, the team went out often on Saturdays to test their rocket and the craftsmanship. Consistency is key, this way you can leave room for easy adjustment due to weather or changes in altitude. There were many failures, for instance, bad boosters, fins being slightly off, and other issues that could really affect the performance of the rocket. Each failure was an opportunity to return to the design process to correct issues.
In May, the national competition began and was held in Virginia. Our team had corrected the outstanding issues and was ready to compete. Out of over 700 teams around the nation, the top 100 were qualified to join in the competition. For the first round of launches, the team got into the top 48, with a score of 20. This meant they got to fly again, however, with a higher altitude. The team scored a 21 the second time around, making their total score a 41. In the end, when the top 20 teams were called for awards, the group was surprised to find out that they had ranked number 18 nationally.
Accepting the challenge
NASA welcomes the top 20 teams from the TARC competition to participate in their Student Launch, although they don't have to. St. Monica's Rocketry Team met in August 2022 to decide whether or not they would join. The majority voted in, and now the team is working furiously to meet up with the NASA's document requirements while figuring out the plan of action creating their high-powered rocket.