Cal Poly Pomona has joined the race to become the first university to launch a liquid fuel rocket into space.
Steps away from the mobile rocket lab students will soon haul to the desert for launch testing, University President Soraya. M. Coley led a celebration on Friday of Cal Poly Pomona’s newly expanded rocketry program punctuated by its entry into the “Race to Space.”
“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, expert faculty, strong industry partnerships and some of the finest students you will ever find, we are expanding our rocketry program to give current and future students dynamic hands-on learning experiences,” Coley said. “We also hope to inspire children throughout the region to believe they too have a future in space, or wherever their dreams take them.”
The FAR-MARS Society Launch Contest on May 5, jointly sponsored by the Mars Society and the Friends of Amateur Astronomy (FAR), involves Cal Poly Pomona and 10 other universities vying to achieve an altitude of 45,000 feet using a liquid fueled rockets. The next phase of the competition aims to reach outer space by achieving an altitude of 330,000 feet.
The university’s Liquid Rocket Program includes approximately 70 student members from two colleges and several departments, along with seven faculty advisors.
All hands on deck
“The student effort is really quite remarkable,” said Frank Chandler, rocketry program director, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and an expert in launch vehicle and spacecraft design. “The students will have had only 15 months to design and build a rocket, and in the aerospace industry, designing and building a new rocket usually takes several years.”
Building the liquid fuel rocket involves designing and constructing the mobile rocket engine test stand, the engine and the rocket vehicle.
Cal Poly Pomona’s entry into the FAR-MARS competition would not be possible without the $1.67 million gift from Diamond Bar-based nonprofit National College Resources Foundation.
Its founder, Theresa Price, said her organization focuses on increasing higher education opportunities – and success – for underserved and underrepresented students.
In attendance at the event were California State Sen. Josh Newman; Pomona Unified School District Superintendent Richard Martinez; industry supporters from the Air Force Research Lab, Boeing, Elite Aerospace Group, Equadrum Corporation, Hughes Aircraft, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northrop Grumman; and middle school students from Lorbeer Middle School in Diamond Bar, who had the opportunity to work on projects with Cal Poly Pomona students before the kickoff event and program.
For more information on the Liquid Rocket Lab, visit the College of Engineering’s Aerospace Engineering Labs webpage.