The Missouri Miner

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EST. 1915

Liquid Rocket Design

Danielle Sheahan

Continuing with my finding your niche theme I have had going this semester, I have great news about there being a fantastic new design team on campus. This new team is called Liquid Rocket Design Team and they will be designing, building and shooting off a rocket that will have a liquid fuel and liquid oxidizer to produce the force needed to lift the rocket off the ground. They will even be participating in a competition put on by the Mars Society next May alongside other universities’ liquid rocket design teams.

Zach Martinez, an S&T Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering student, wanted to do something different than the solid fuel rocket design team out of curiosity and an interest in SpaceX. He assumed the best place to start was to do research with liquid rocket design. Last spring, he and a few others [Brennen Huseman, Seth Lanius, Austin Steimel, Catarina Davies, Matthew Fogel, Josh Lewis, and Andrew Smith] applied for an innovation grant which they ultimately won. Although as word got out around the faculty and staff during the summer there were some concerns about creating a liquid rocket without the proper materials, training and supervision.

Since, liquid design is a dangerous project that consists with dealing with sizeable amounts of highly combustible material (fuel) and oxidizers in close proximity, the research, which was funded by an innovation grant, turned into a design team. This way it can be further regulated and supervised, and be able to provide more tools and safety trainings to members. Other people who have helped to build the team is Matt Fogle who has become the Liquid Design Chief Technical Engineer. Also, Dick Connelly, a current S&T graduate student, and Emma Schneider have paired up to organize the structure of the team which reflects more of a business side of a company than the technical side.

The difference between liquid rockets and solid rockets seems simple, but the practical differences in actually designing and building them can be very complicated. Liquid fuel tends to be more dangerous to work with without the proper knowledge. I did a bit of digging and found some basic information about liquid design since I am far from being an expert in this field.

Liquid design typically includes the use of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen; a fuel and an oxidizer. An early pioneer in this field, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published his ideas in 1903. His research was about the basic idea of exploring space with rockets and how these spacefaring rockets would work. In 1903 the process for recovering liquid hydrogen had just recently been invented, so his work was technically theoretical, and it was unclear whether it would work at that time. Also published in the same paper, was the equation which is now considered the foundation of astronautics and carries his name.

“... [The Tsiolkovsky] equation describes the mathematical relationship between the changing mass of a rocket as it burns through fuel, the velocity of the exhaust gases, and the final speed of the rocket.” -Tyler Rinde, Model United Nations at UCSD presents TritonMUN XV

If you are interested in learning more about the Liquid Rocket Design team, and you think it might be your niche, please contact Emma Schneider at


Rinde, Tyler. Model United Nations at UCSD Presents Triton MUN XIV. 22 Apr. 2017.


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