About the Project

Project Karman has evolved a lot in the past couple years since its inception in the spring of 2015. One of the largest changes is that now we are looking at a two-stage rocket, and an aramid wrap around a carbon fiber body . The main advantages of a two stage configuration is a reduction in cost and complexity over the previous three stage design. The switch to an aluminum body is due to our belief that the aerodynamic stresses will be too much for carbon fiber body. Current simulations show a maximum speed of Mach 5.4, and an apogee of 112 km. Our research suggests that under these conditions, the carbon fiber is likely to delaminate causing destruction of the launch vehicle.



The previous leaders of Project Karman: Andrew Buggee, Greg Allan, and John Malsan, were among our first seniors to graduate from AIAA. With their graduation, the new leadership for Project Karman was passed down to Project Manager Elliot Leslie, and Technical Lead Adam Poirier.

Elliott Leslie: Elliott is a senior mechanical engineering student with a minor in electrical engineering. As project lead he focuses on bringing in new members, teaching students, and managing groups designed to develop sub-systems that bring us ever closer to our goal of space.

Adam Poirier: Adam is a third year Mechanical Engineering student who is also working towards his computer science minor. As Technical Lead for Project Karman he focuses on making sure that the project is developing the correct rockets to test with, as well as development of the final launch vehicle.

Problems we are working on:

  1. Internal temperature in flight
  2. Aerodynamic forces
    • Are we going to be stable in flight, and would a carbon fiber body delaminate in flight. We are looking into spin stabilization to increase our dynamic stability.
  3. Communication
    • Our belief is that external patch antennas will fail under Mach 5 conditions. We are looking into alternatives such as ceramic body sections and a ceramic nose cone that would allow for radio communication. Additionally an aluminum body was suggested, but communication would be difficult
  4. GPS
    • We are still searching for GPS units which are not under ITAR regulations that prevent operation above 60,000 feet and 1,000 knots or greater. We want to ensure that we will have GPS lock on the rocket through the entirety of the flight, or additionally that we will regain a positive lock on the rocket once it has decelerated to below 1,000 knots as it approaches apogee. This is a critical component as it is the only way for us to verify that we did indeed reach the Karman line.