2016 was a busy year for Project Karman. The team as a whole grew to nearly 40 active members, with six to seven sub projects each semester. Two different rockets were launched; Infinity and Heighliner. Unfortunately due to recovery issues, both rockets failed and crashed ballistically. More information on each rocket can be found in later sections.
After the failure of Infinity in mid May, the team rebuilt the same rocket named Beyond over the summer, with a completely revamped avionics system. A live telemetry system that reports 15 sets of data at 20 Hz to a ground station was developed in parallel. The design theory behind the new system was that in the event of a total failure, information on the flight could still be recovered and used to identify the issue. Additionally the information gathered from the flight will be used to validate the simulations that we have created.
The two rockets are identical except for the avionics bay. To mitigate risk Heighliner was developed. Heighliner was a test of the experimental recovery system that Infinity I was using, including a CO2 deployment system and deployment of the main chute from a single bay using a quick release system. The first flight of the rocket resulted in critical failure, where the recovery system did not deploy and the rocket crashed ballistically. The rocket was rebuilt and the system tested again on Heighliner II, resulting in a partial deployment of the recovery system. Heighliner II was salvageable after the first flight, and was able to be re-launched a second time with a new recovery configuration, unfortunately the system failed again and resulted in a third ballistic recovery.
In its latest iteration, the NUSS Lazarus was developed to isolate problems, and develop a rocket to test the experimental parachute system, in a way that has a high chance of success. The exact cause of the previous failures has not been identified, however post crash analysis points to an avionics bay issue as some of our pyrogen did not ignite in flight. To combat failure, we have slowed down our development process, and are waiting to begin construction until all designs are fully finalized and reviewed by members of the club. As of December 31st 2016, the NUSS Lazarus is nearly fully designed with a new 3D printed avionics bay, and is set to begin construction when classes resume January 9th.