The objective of CyRoc’s payload team is to design, build, and fly a payload in the Spaceport America Cup (SAC) rocket which follows the guidelines of the SAC and the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) Payload Challenge. According to the guidelines of the SDL Challenge, the payload must perform some form of scientific experiment or technical demonstration.
The payload team will typically keep ideas fresh, changing the specific function yearly. Previous experiments include vibration dampening via magnetic means, measurement of electrostatic charge during flight, and a deployable guided descent demonstration. This year, however, the team is designing a thermal and strain monitoring system that will provide an accurate idea of the condition of rocket nose cones during flight. While the main motivation is success in the SDL challenge, this system is proving useful to other projects, such as a 30,000-foot research vehicle, where it will be flown purely for the sake of knowledge.
One primary function will be to provide a thermal map of the rocket’s nose cone to expand our understanding of the magnitude of temperature effects. This consists of heating via sunlight and a generally hot environment as well as heat generated due to drag during flight at high speeds. The other main function is to use a strain gauge circuit to identify deformation within the airframe as a result of heat and various loading. Together, the current system will help the club grow and improve the quality of future airframe design.