The newly formed Longhorn Rocket Association, a student organization in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, held their inaugural launch at Pickle Research Center on Saturday, November 10. Over 20 people, including aerospace engineering students, advisors, faculty, and staff, showed up for the historic first launch, in which the group launched over 10 model rockets that they built themselves over the past few months. The rockets ranged from 3 inches tall to one six-foot tall rocket: The Mean Machine. One of the most fascinating launches was the Comanche 3, which is a three stage rocket. Some of the rockets flew as high as 1500 feet and each rocket came back to the ground with either parachutes or streamers that deployed from the nose cone. After each launch, the group sent out “search parties” to find the rockets that the wind carried away during landing. Despite strong winds and a bit of drizzle, the group had a very successful first launch and all members and spectators had a great launch experience.

The rocket group was originally started in spring of 2007 and is the only rocketry group at UT. Senior Geovani Lopez is serving as the Vice President this semester. With his background and passion for rockets, he is the mastermind behind the whole group.  With the help of President James Carlson, Treasurer Kristen John, Safety Officer Umair Khan, and Secretary Leah Olson, they were able to work behind the scenes early this semester to help the group lift off. With help from faculty members Philip Varghese, Linda Hayes, and Department Chair Robert Bishop, the group was able to become an official organization of the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Over the past couple of months, students ranging from freshmen to seniors have met Fridays in WRW 113 and Saturday in the Air Systems Design Lab for their weekly “Rocket Builds”. This semester they have started with model rockets in order to orient everyone who is new to rocket building. With their own tools, materials, glue, and hard work, they have already constructed multiple rockets.

In the upcoming semesters, the Longhorn Rocket Association has set many goals. This includes competitions amongst themselves, with other universities, and hopefully a competition where the group will travel out of state for a National Association of Rocketry (NAR) competition. The group also plans to launch a “Cricket Sat” during their upcoming December 1st launch. They also hope to test their rocket engines at Pickle Research Center, build high powered model rockets, design and build fiberglass rocket bodies, calculate and build reusable rocket engines, design custom rockets, and do outreach activities with local area children.

Join the Longhorn Rocket Association for its last launch of the semester on Saturday, December 1 from 10 am - 2 pm at the Pickle Research Center, SW Field. Online registration is required for this event. For more information contact Leah Olson at leah.olson@mail.utexas.edu