Several Aerojet Rocketdyne engineers approached Tesla STEM High School in early 2015 about an 18-month internship project to produce an amateur sounding rocket with the goal of competing in the 2016 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition supported by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association. Currently, the team is composed of 13 aerospace engineers and 37 seniors at Tesla STEM. I'm was the team lead for designing and building the engine and feed system, as well as a key member of avionics, ground support equipment, and structures sub-teams.
The engine is a 100 lbs-f LOX/Ethanol pressure-blowdown design pressurized by 3000 psi gaseous helium. The finished rocket is projected to reach an altitude of 25,000 feet.
As of September 2016 we've successfully designed and built the entire launch vehicle, completed three engine tests and system integration, and attempted two launches in Utah at IREC 2016 in June and in eastern Washington in August. Each launch was faced with a unique failure unrelated to the rocket itself:
In preparation for the January 2017 launch attempt, we're optimizing the stability of the fins and making a few other tweaks to the CG of Lawn Dart to ensure a safe flight. The control scheme for the isolation valve will also detect stalls and respond accordingly to prevent future problems.