The Liquid Rocket Lab will not being participating in the FAR-MARS competition, but still plan to launch its rocket this May.

On May 19, the LRL will launch their liquid oxygen and methane fueled rocket, The Bronco 1,at Edwards Airforce Base.

“We’re still going for a launch. We definitely aren’t giving up or dropping out. We’re just not going to be able to participate in the launch competition portion of it,” said seventh-year aerospace and physics major and LRL technician and project coordinator, Richard Picard. “We’re still planning on possibly participating in other competitions or even [having] the idea of posting our own competition as [it] come[s] up. We’re definitely going to keep moving forward and launch a rocket this year.”

Arturo Rodriguez and Richard Picard work on pressurant system for the rocket. (Brian Sease | The Poly Post)

Per the FAR-MARS competition rules, teams needed to have submitted two things by April 20: the thrust versus time curve of the engine — which means how hard the engine is pushing over how long it’s firing — and a video of the full vehicle configuration doing hot fire.

Although the process has been very challenging and the team was not able to submit.

“[I am feeling a] mix of nervous and excited. Nervous because it’s really challenging and there’s a lot of work to do so it can be very stressful at times. But excited because this is such an amazing feat to pull off,” said Picard.

When the project was started, Cal Poly Pomona had never done liquid fueled rockets before, so this was all new territory to the team. And with new territory brought new challenges.

“Learning how to do all the analysis with not only just the liquid engine, which is already insanely hard, but learning how to work with cryogens in general is something that is not taught on this campus,” said fifth-year aerospace engineer and astronomy student Ethan Sichler, the engine lead.

With no precedent set before them, much of the program had to be created from scratch.

This included designing a new management structure, procedure, and safety manual, as well as training the team.

But with hard work and determination, the team has been able to design a rocket from the ground up.

The most recent challenge, however, has been manufacturing.

Going from information on a paper to a physical rocket has been a particularly formidable obstacle.

“In terms of design we’re 100 percent finished. It’s just a matter of getting the final parts in, which is in process right now,” said sixth-year aerospace engineer major, Will Morris, the LRL launch vehicle team lead. “Basically, we’re going to be ready to launch. It comes down to whether everything else associated with the program falls into place.”

With a $1.67 million donation National Colleges Resources Foundation back in 2017, CPP was able to begin its Liquid Rocket Lab and begin plans to launch a liquid fueled rocket into space, or 330,000 feet.

The rocket has many moving parts to it that need to work together in order for it to launch. (Courtesy of the National College Research Foundation)
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