Rockets from Glen!

Programs for this blog post

Aerospace Engineering

Authored By:

Aliou Sall

""Whoosh!" goes the rocket as the motor ignites. In seconds, the rocket is many meters above us, and then a brief moment of silence before the "pop" of the parachute as the rocket gently falls down. Otherwise, we are greeted by the sight of a rocket that has lost its parachute. Here, in a meadow not too far away from the Canal du Midi, is where we launch rockets. But these aren't any old rockets from a kit. No. These are rockets that are custom designed and built by the students of the Engineering program with the help of our instructor, Nicolas. Nearby, at Planete Sciences, is where all the fun begins. To launch a rocket, you need a rocket, and to have a rocket, you need to design it. Each rocket built is unique, and each design is different. We all use the same basic principles that Nicolas taught us, and there are many fun and creative rockets that have been built. Here, the sky's the limit. Some go for a simple, single motor rocket design, some go two stages, while others go with a more complex design. It's all fun, and there is so much that can be done. We had three launches total. The first launch was to see what we knew, and to observe how different designs fly. Some flew flawlessly, others, not so much. But the acceleration and the speed of the rockets is just amazing to watch. The second round of rockets were our prototype rockets. These had unique designs, and each group made a rocket based on how they wanted it to work. Some were flying two stage rockets, others did a 3 booster design. And then there were the simple, but well built single motor designs. When we set them off to launch, some spiralled up on purpose, some flipped and spun out of control, and then there were the rockets that flew so perfectly that it deserved a round of applause. And then comes the final launch day, and people either built a new prototype, or modified their previous version. There was a frantic rush to get all the final parts and adjustments onto the rocket, some last minute tests and preparations, for this was the final launch we would do for this program. As we walked and set up for the launch, some were nervous about the rockets but many were excited for launch. Hours of work put in for a brief 20 to 30 second flight. Once the launch area has been cleared, the countdown starts, in different languages. Then, the ignition button is pushed, and the rocket, within seconds, is up, up, and away! Each rocket flies differently, making each launch a nice surprise. Some flew flawlessly, others flew up, but had parachute problems, while some were not able to properly fly, unfortunately. Rocket launching is such a great spectacle, and something that all of us enjoyed. Building rockets is very hands-on, and not always easy. Through this experience, we have failures and successes, but that's what makes this fun engineering."