Our Rockets:


The Best Rocketry Research Determination System, or B.R.R.D.S, is NCSSM's first supersonic rocket. B.R.R.D.S launched on November 20, 2021, from the Bayboro launch site in Eastern North Carolina, and successfully met all of its goals, which were to surpass Mach 1 (767 mph) during ascent and reach a minimum altitude of 10,000 feet. More information on B.R.R.D.S is below:


Designed exclusively by the 2021-2022 NCSSM Rocketry team, Phoenix served as the launch vehicle for our UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) project. Unfortunately, our UAV system was not able to fly with Phoenix on April 23, 2022, but Phoenix's flight went off without a hitch, and successfully recorded its entire launch, ascent, and descent -- a first for the 2021-2022 team. More information on Phoenix is below:

Monthly Updates:



Word of the month: liftoff.  

TARC: After launching their rockets in March, our TARC team wrapped up their work for the year. Teams spent April cleaning up their toolkits and the engineering suite, as well as preparing tools and the suite for the 2022-2023 TARC team.

HPR (top & bottom):  Before heading out to the launch site in late April, our HPR team completed ejection charge testing for Phoenix's parachutes, parachute packing, and completed work on electronics. 

After months of work, our HPR team finally launched Phoenix from the Bayboro launch site on April 23. Due to unforeseen difficulties with the construction of the UAV, our UAV vehicle did not fly on Phoenix. However, Phoenix's flight was still a resounding success! Phoenix traveled at speeds of up to Mach 0.7 (537.088+ mph) and reached heights of approximately 5,000 feet. After reaching apogee, Phoenix successfully deployed its drogue and main parachutes before softly touching down a couple hundred yards from the launch site. The HPR team successfully retrieved Phoenix, the flight data, and -- unlike B.R.R.D.S -- camera footage! 

Below is the camera footage from Phoenix's flight:

Phoenix Launch - Onboard Cut .mp4


Word of the month: determination.  

TARC (top): Members of the TARC team finished up final testing and successfully launched their rockets. This comes after weeks of hard work wherein each team designed, constructed, and tested their own rockets, with guidance from mentors. 

HPR (bottom):  The HPR team continued working on Phoenix throughout the month by epoxying the fins onto the rocket, coupling together parts of the rocket, and completing other important objectives that needed to be completed before our April launch. At the end of March, the HPR team completed the construction of the frame of Phoenix. All that remains is the electronics and final preparations for launch.

Development of the UAV also continued this month, with our development team beginning the construction of the flight model. 


Word of the month: construction.  

TARC (top-left): Members of TARC worked on finalizing the designs of their rockets, and began construction in anticipation of the launches in March. For those who participated in the TARC January Term course, their rockets were essentially completed. This time served as a trial and error period for students to make sure their rockets would fly successfully. 

HPR (bottom-left):  Construction for Phoenix finally begins. Phoenix is essentially a rocket that will deploy an unmanned UAV that will hover before ultimately landing on its own. This is not a common design, as only two collegiate rocketry teams have attempted something like this. While the main rocket is easy to construct, the UAV brings a new challenge for the HPR team. The primary challenge is the size. The UAV has to be large enough to actually sustain flight, yet small enough to fit in the rocket. With size, there is also a weight challenge with the UAV.

Below is a video of a test flight of a UAV prototype. 



The word of the month for both of our teams: J-Term. 

Overall, there were no significant updates for either team during this month due to the fact that we just returned from winter break. 

TARC (top-left): Taught and led by our sponsor, Dr. Garrett Love, TARC had its own course in the January Term catalog this year. This gave current TARC members extra time to catch up on rocket construction, as well as the opportunity to explore rocket designs in addition to their creations in progress. 

HPR (bottom-left):  With many HPR members traveling during January Term, most of this time was spent finalizing the design for Phoenix. One of our local mentors, Joe Hill, came and helped us go over the final details before construction began for Phoenix. 



The word of the month for both of our teams: launch. 

TARC (top-left): On November 6, a few team members were able to attend a local Cub Scouts "fun day" launch. This was a great opportunity to review launch day safety, as well as to get some experience actually launching rockets. We launched some Alphas (A-motor rockets), as well as some rockets that were constructed in years past. 

HPR (bottom-left): On November 8, we did some ejection charge testing for B.R.R.D.S. As of November 15, B.R.R.D.S was completely finished. Next was the big day, and members of our HPR team traveled to Bayboro for the launch of BRRDS on November 20. 

The launch went better than we could have expected. Our major goals with B.R.R.D.S were to fly higher than 10,000 feet, to go supersonic, to collect data from air-pressure sensors in the nose cone, and to record a 360-degree video. We met every goal except for our last one, as the cameras shut off upon takeoff. For the motor, we used an Aerotech L-1000W. B.R.R.D.S reached a height of 11,973 feet at apogee and a max velocity of Mach 1.3 (997 mph). After disappearing into the sky for three minutes and 56 seconds, B.R.R.D.S made its descent with both parachutes opened, landing closely to its launchpad. 

What made launch day even better was the fact that Ellie Murray, a captain from the class of 2020 that originally designed the rocket, was able to attend the launch. Hear her thoughts about the launch in the video to the left. 

Directly below, you can find videos of B.R.R.D.S taking off and landing.



Word of the month: delegation.

HPR (top-left): Now that HPR has determined our launch date as November 20th, things have begun to ramp up for our team. In order to meet deadlines, we have divided the team into groups. Evelyn has assembled a group of students who will finish B.R.R.D.S, mainly by working on the payload. Donald and Takumi will be directing students who are interested in working on and researching for "Phoenix". Rochelle will be collaborating with students who will work on the funding proposal for "Phoenix".  

Additionally, captains Donald, Takumi, and Aimee were able to travel out to Bayboro and watch one of our mentors, Mr. Joe Hill, launch his rocket. They also got to observe launches from other participants. When asked what he learned from this experience, Safety Officer Takumi said, "After seeing some rockets fall from the sky without a parachute, mainly due to technical failures, I learned how important parachutes are. Parachutes are not only important in protecting the rocket, but in protecting observers." 

TARC (bottom-left): This month, TARC was able to do some local outreach! A few of our team members were able to travel with Dr. Love and teach some Cub Scouts how to build rockets. TARC also had some internal education this month, as Dr. Love came and taught about different motor types.  

Dr. Garrett Love teaching in TARC.
Mr. Joe Hill teaching in HPR.


Word of the month: education. 

Now that numbers have trickled down, we have moved into the education portion of the club. Dr. Love (top left) visits TARC to teach about building rockets. Mr. Joe Hill (bottom left) visits HPR to talk about rocket motors, as well as to help us create a plan to finish and launch B.R.R.D.S, which was designed and mostly constructed in 2020. Mr. Hill will also be guiding us in the construction of the rocket we hope to build and launch this year, tentatively called "Phoenix". 

Speaking of "Phoenix", captains Donald, Takumi, and Evelyn met virtually with professors from MIT in order to get insight on how to construct a rocket that will deploy a UAV (which is our goal). MIT's rocketry team is one of the first to successfully do it, along with the University of Louisville. 


Word of the month: excitement.

With the club fair, as well as our interest meeting, August served as a recruitment month. We had nearly 100 students indicate interest at the club fair, and we had roughly 60, maybe 70 students who came to our large interest meeting. 

Both HPR and TARC had separate follow-up interest meetings. In the bottom-left, there is an enthusiastic captain, Evelyn Ong, waiting for the rest of the students to trickle into the HPR interest meeting. 


Evelyn Ong (HPR) 

Donald Gemmel (HPR) 

Jabri Garcia-Jimenez (TARC) 

Aimee Wucherer (TARC) 

Takumi Fujita (Safety) 

Rochelle David (Communications)

This year marks our great return to Rocketry on campus. Last year, with cohorts and hybrid classes, it was difficult for us to maintain a strong team. Our captains this year have never had the experience of designing, building, or launching their own rockets. With the guidance of our mentors Mr. Joe Hill and Mr. Dave Morey, along with support from Dr. Garrett Love, we strive to get NCSSM's rocketry program back to its status as one of the best programs in the nation.