DEVELOPMENT OF A ROCKET TEST PLATFORM CAPABLE OF DELIVERING STANDARD DIMENSION PAYLOADS TO NEAR-SPACE ALTITUDES
Pierce, Dillon T.
Newman, James H.
Smithtro, Christopher G.
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Within the NPS Small Satellite Lab, research and development of emerging technologies and their implementation as CubeSat payloads has continued to be a focus of hands-on, lab-based academics. Testing of these student-built CubeSats in real-world environmental conditions began with the high-altitude balloon project in which large Nomex weather balloons were used to carry student-built CubeSat payloads to near-space altitudes. Since the inaugural flight in 2011, the high-altitude balloon project has generated interest from both senior civilian and military leadership, as the academic and military utility of such a program is readily apparent. Building upon the success of the program, this thesis seeks to complement the capabilities of the high-altitude balloon as an academic education tool and military payload delivery vehicle through the development of a high-power rocket program within the NPS Space Systems Academic Group. In addition to providing procedures and documentation as to the requirements for establishing a high-power rocket program, this thesis details the design, construction, and proof-of-concept flight of a reusable rocket capable of delivering standard dimension payloads to near-space altitudes. Results from several rocket flights are then used to explore the academic and military utility of a sustainable high-power rocket program.
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