The Liquid Rocket Lab is gearing up to compete for the FAR-MARS prize, a liquid fuel rocket competition where colleges and universities worldwide compete for $100,000 in prizes.

The Liquid Rocket Lab at CPP aims to create a reusable liquid fuel rocket in time for the May 5 deadline of the competition.

This lab consists of three teams: CYGNUS Engine team, which developed and built CPP’s first liquid fuel engine, Bronco 1 Launch Vehicle team, which is building the rocket for the engine, and the Mobile Rocket Engine Test Stand team, which is building the test stand and essential testing equipment for the project.

“The LRL was started with a generous $1.67 million gift from the National College Resources Foundation, with the stated objective being the development of liquid fuel rocketry at Cal Poly Pomona,” said fourth-year aerospace engineering student and LRL Launch Vehicle Team Lead, Will Morris. “As a short-term goal, competing in the FAR-MARS competition this year is a natural fit, but our aims go much beyond that as well.”

The liquid rocket lab will be competing on May 5 for a $50,000 grand prize. (Brian Sease | The Poly Post)

The CYGNUS engine has been in development for almost two years and is now completely finished. However, the launch vehicle and test stand for the rocket are still in development since the team has been given about nine months to go from concept to product as part of the FAR-MARS competition.

The competition will take place over the weekends of May 5-6 and May 12-13 and the competitors rockets will need to reach at least 30,000 feet to qualify.

The prizes presented by FAR-MAR include $50,000 to the team whose bi-propellant liquid-fueled rocket comes closest to reaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters). Another $50,000 goes to the team who can reach a similar altitude using a rocket powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen.

However, the LRL plans to aim much higher than that in the near future. CPP is gearing up to be the first ever university to send a liquid-fueled rocket into space.

In order to do that, the rocket must reach an altitude of 330,000, 11 times higher than that of the minimum for the competition.

“It’s very exciting right now,” said seventh-year aerospace engineering student and LRL program manager, Richard Picard “We’re getting experience that you’ll almost never see outside of an industry setting.”

With the unveiling of the new Mobile Operation Center Assembly Trailer, a trailer that will be used as the command post and staging area for field operations, the team will be able to conduct testing in new locations off campus.

“I think it’s important to add that MRETS was comprised of not just seniors, but juniors, sophomores and freshmen,” said third-year aerospace engineering student Edwin Betady, lead of MRETS and one of the project’s founding members.  “Almost every department in the college of engineering was involved with developing the test stand. Without those volunteers, MRETS would not be where it is at today and I personally can’t thank them enough.”

With only two months left till launch, it’s a hectic and exciting time for the LRL team.

“I feel a bit of everything: nervous, excited, tired. But it has all been worth it,” said Betady.

With the public reinvigorated thanks to people such as Elon Musk, space travel and rockets are once again on the minds of Americans. This is will be an exciting time for both CPP students and the public alike.

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