This is just a quick note that our Washington University in St. Louis team took fifth place in the national CanSat competition, which occurred on Saturday, June 8th in Amarillo, TX.
The competition was for students to design and build a soda-can sized payload for a large model rocket; the rocket blasted up to about 3,000 feet, where the payload was released and supposed to gently return to Earth. Bonus points were awarded for landing closest to a designated target and for returning panoramic images of the descent.
Twenty-seven teams submitted designs for the competition, and thirteen showed up with working hardware (plus one high-school team, graded separately). This was our first year of competition and, to be honest, all we wanted out of the first year was to get our feet wet; our definition of "mission success" was to release from the rocket and survive landing. To come in fifth was a welcome surprise, and bodes well for our participation next year.
The CanSat team was made up of ten undergraduates and was managed out of the MAE 190 class (soon to be MASE 1701). The students selected an ambitious "spring-loaded wing" concept where the CanSat descends as an un-powered helicopter (autorotation similar to how a maple seed falls to the ground). We were one of only two teams that did not attempt a parachute descent.
The CanSat team was sponsored by the NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium. More information on the competition and results will be posted to the national website (www.cansatcompetition.com) and to our own website (nanosat.wustl.edu) later in the week -- our team rolled back to town at 4:30am Monday, and will spend a day or two decompressing.
~MIKE SWARTOUT, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST LOUIS