Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Mizzou Engineering students rejuvenate rocket team for June competition

The first rocket built by MU engineers in five years will launch at a competition in Utah in June.

The University of Missouri College of Engineering hasn’t built a rocket in more than five years, but this year, the student American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) team is working on a rocket to compete in Utah, June 21 to 23, 2012.

Between now and then, they are working on building the best rocket possible.

Zachary Blickhan started the program back up in August after its five-year hiatus. He and the team have spent the last two semesters working on the project.

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours on designing a rocket that has a one minute flight time,” he said.

Almost 95 percent of the rocket is made of carbon fiber. The nearly six-foot-tall craft can reach 700 mph in 2.5 seconds, which is just under the speed of sound. The rocket travels two times faster than the top gas-powered drag racer, and one-third the speed of a sniper bullet.

Solid fuel and a commercial engine propel the rocket, which has a computer processor inside of it that tracks altitude.

Before he graduates in December 2012, Blickhan said he hopes to discover how the team can produce their own fuel, and make a rocket twice as big and twice as fast as their current model.

And he hopes that the new aerospace minor will encourage more engineering students to join the team.

“We’re going to be the first ones out of the program to get minors in aerospace engineering, and it’s all because of faculty like (Craig) Kluever, (Gary) Solbrekken, and former NASA astronaut Steven Nagel,” Blickhan said, “We really appreciate faculty support.”