The Atomic Aggies, NMSU’s high-powered rocketry team, achieved their first successful launch at the 3rd annual Spaceport America Cup this past June. This rocketry competition attracted 124 schools from 14 countries to design, build, and launch rockets to either 10,000 or 30,000 feet. The Atomic Aggies earned the honors of 6thplace in their category of 46 teams, and 13thout of all schools, improving immensely from their first year as a team in 2018, when the rocket exploded during the ascent. Consisting of 25 members, the team competed in the 10,000 feet Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) category, which is a designation indicating that the rocket motor was developed by a commercial company. The competition was scored based on the proximity to predicted altitude, overall design soundness, number of components manufactured in-house, and the technical report.
Led by Dustin Holta and Anita Jimenez, the group began work in August to construct an 8-foot-tall rocket weighing 55 pounds which reached an altitude of 12,202 feet at the competition. The rocket’s airframe was constructed from student designed and manufactured carbon fiber and fiberglass and was propelled by a solid rocket motor manufactured by Cesaroni Technologies Inc. The rocket deployed a parachute at its maximum altitude, and a second, larger parachute at 1,500 feet to ensure a safe recovery. Additionally, the rocket carried an 8.8-pound scientific payload which monitored the temperature, air pressure, air quality, and tracked the rocket’s flight trajectory.