TARC 2015: Summary and Qualification Flights

By Nick Becker · April 8, 2015

March 29th was quite the day for members of the Makers Club. We had planned to get qualification flights submitted a week earlier, however, the weather was not on our side. With a school trip and robotics competition all in the same weekend, we were very lucky to get our qualification flights in on time. Before recapitulating the qualification launch, I want to summarize the the decision making behind our TARC design and progress this season.

Project Overview

For over a decade the Team America Rocketry Challenge has been known to be the largest high school rocketry competition in the nation. This year it had roughly 700 teams competing from all over the country.

The map above shows the location of competing teams across the U.S.—including Hawaii and Puerto Rico (rocketcontest.org).

This year was the first year a team from Lovett has ever competed in TARC, and more importantly, this was the first rocket the Makers Club had ever designed and built from scratch.

The first time we tested our rocket, it was 580grams on the pad and reached an altitude of 585ft. It had a length of 36.25 inches, four fins, and plenty of wasted space. After Launch Test 1, we were tasked with the job of radically redesigning and improving our rocket—and that is exactly what we did.

From Ditzy v3.1 (the first rocket flown) to Ditzy v4.3, we removed roughly 80 grams and maintained a stability margin over 1.5 all while protecting an egg from the acceleration forces of launch and impact forces of landing.

Ditzy v3.1

Ditzy v4.3

Over the past month we shortened the rocket 7.5 inches, redesigned the fins, moved the egg and altimeter to the nosecone to increase stability, and completely rebuilt the rocket twice (along with completely redesigning it several times).

Our TARC rocket(s) flew a total of six flights, all of which resulted in successful recoveries. All data from our flight tests can be found in previous posts from earlier this month. I am extremely impressed with how our team was able to learn, test, and adapt throughout preparation for TARC 2015, and that effort is reflected in the performance of our qualification flights.

Qualification Flights

TARC 2015 Qualification Flight 1

With the majority of the team on a school trip, Josh and Anthony took the lead in making sure everything went smoothly on Sunday. Starting at 8:00am at an RC airfield in Ball Ground, Georgia, we, alongside three other teams, launched TARC rockets to submit for qualification. The object of the qualification flights was to fly a rocket to 800ft in 46-48 seconds while protecting a raw egg inside the rocket from damage.

Our best flight reached an altitude of 782ft in a time of 50.25 seconds. This score far surpassed any altitude we had achieved during testing and transcended all of our expectations. The modifications we made prior to Sunday were successful in reducing mass while maintaining stability. Needless to say, everyone on the team was thrilled. Over the course of a few months, we had designed a rocket from scratch, and then improved it’s performance from 585ft in altitude to 782ft. Though our scores were not good enough to qualify for TARC Finals, everyone had a blast and we will definitely be back in the competition next year.

TARC 2015 Team: Alexander Hammond, Anthony Romaniello, Davis Rackley, Ethan Goldfarb, Josh Eiland, and Nick Becker

Special Thanks: To Karl Hwang for his continuous support given to both Panthera Sciences and the Lovett Makers Club.