Stanford University SSI Successfully Completes Explorers Mercury Program


Stanford University graduate and undergraduate students successfully complete the design and hot-fire qualification test of their Mavericks Standard P Reference Design solid composite rocket motor, delivering over 2400 lbf of thrust for 6.7 seconds. The 6″ diameter 60 inch long rocket motor will be used in the Fall to launch their FAA Class 3 Mercury Reference design “Lightning” sounding rocket, which will deliver specialized CubeSAT research payloads to over 50,000 feet in the atmosphere. As part of a longer-term project, the university students are working hard to be the first collegiate student team to design, build and launch a rocket into space.

Watch the hotfire test video from the bunker….

As part of the graduate and undergraduate team’s efforts, full three-dimensional stress analysis and structural optimization of the vehicle were also completed, including the incorporation of advanced composites and 3D fabricated materials and components. The design successfully passed both a PDR and CDR, with reviewers from SpaceX, NASA, Stanford Aeronautics and Astronautics faculty, and the United Space Alliance (ULA) industry launch vehicle design experts.

After final FAA flight qualification testing in the Fall, the “Lightning” payload delivery vehicle will be converted as part of the second stage, and integrated into the “Thunder” robust booster motor, and successfully launched and recovered into space next year. The Stanford Space Initiative started their Mavericks Explorers and STEM education programs a year ago, last spring, and have grown the popularity of their student run organization into the largest student project activity on campus. Interest in Aeronautics and Astronautics by Stanford undergraduates has grown so much because of the success of their efforts, that the university is now exploring the creation of the first undergraduate Aeronautics and Astronautics program.