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Rocket Payload Load Assessment And Motor Performance An Instrumentation Challenge

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.352.1 - 2.352.6

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Paper Authors

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Patrick L. Walter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2259

Rocket Payload Load Assessment and Motor Performance- An Instrumentation Challenge

Patrick L. Walter, Ph.D., P. E. ASEE/Senior Design Lecturer-Texas Christian University


A complete design experience encompasses many facets including: specification interpretation, project management, proposal writing, preliminary and final hardware design, communications, supplier/vendor relations, testing, and human interactions. All of these facets are contained in the Capstone design experience in TCU’s new engineering program. The first class from this program was graduated in 1996. This paper describes how instrumentation or measurements system design is providing a general engineering focus for the two semester Capstone sequence. Specifically, the first senior class’s design, prototyping, testing, and environmental qualification of telemetry compatible flight hardware to measure rocket engine performance and loads delivered to a flight payload are described. This flight hardware was comprised of a piezoelectric accelerometer, charge amplifier, strain gage pressure transducer, and dc amplifier/power supply all manufactured within TCU. A Request for Proposal (RFP) containing fifty-six (56) aerospace specifications was presented to and satisfied by the students. A written proposal response and final report, and proposal and final design presentations, provided realistic communication experiences for the student engineers.


Privatized Launch Systems (PLS) has been contracted to deploy its STARFIRE rocket system to launch a 200M$ payload to support a joint U. S., French, British, Japanese consortium. The payload will image atmospheric contaminants as a function of altitude. The MIDGET II motor used previously in the third stage of the three stage STARFIRE rocket system is no longer commercially available. A new STAR VI motor will replace it. One performance verification flight of this modified system is planned prior to actual payload launch. Verifying the integrity of the STAR VI motor, in terms of its pressure-time performance and the vibration loads it transmits to a “dummy” payload, is the primary objective of the performance flight. An acceleration measuring system is required in flight to measure the vibratory payload loads. A pressure measuring system is also required to measure the rocket motor pressure-time performance. Both systems must operate off of onboard unregulated power supplied by batteries and provide output voltages compatible with the inputs to flight quality subcarrier oscillators. These oscillators will modulate a radio frequency (rf) transmitter which will radiate signals containing data from the rocket to a

Walter, P. L. (1997, June), Rocket Payload Load Assessment And Motor Performance An Instrumentation Challenge Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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