Features Magazine Volume 70, Issue 8

Revolutionizing Model Rocketry

By Kate Beeby

Graphic By Yiying Zhang

Team Kugelblitz, a group of high-school students including members of the Las Lomas community, seeks to innovate traditional model rocketry through shifting towards increasingly modern techniques. The team centers their work around traditional rocketry while specializing in 3-D printing technology. Team Kugelblitz plans on competing in The American Rocketry Challenge, a national competition between middle and high school teams and their model rockets.

“We use 3D-printing, paired with control systems which are embedded within the rocket,” Junior Eric Du, Website and Media Marketer, said. The team is set apart from their competition by one factor: “It is very uncommon for a model rocket to have two control systems.” 

The rocket’s structure is entirely 3D printed. “The 3D printed material we use is carbon-fiber nylon, a material with an exceptionally high strength to weight ratio that allows us the use of heavy electronic systems on the rocket,” Acalanes Junior Cem Adatepe said. “We also have a printed circuit board (PCB) on the rocket which hosts all of our sensors and our microcontroller, of which the code is uploaded on. Our rocket also has a parachute, which is deployed by an electromagnetic ejection system at a time determined by our flight algorithm.”

To test the rocket and make sure that everything is working properly, the team goes to a launching site to perform various tests. “To test the rocket, we do two things,” Du said. “One, we can launch the rocket to gather data…Two, we can test certain control systems at our workstation to make sure they are functioning properly.”

The team is currently preparing for The American Rocketry Challenge. “TARC is a model rocketry competition that involves some 5,000 students nationwide who compete for first place,” Adatepe said. “The top 100 scoring teams go to finals each year where the winner is decided.” 

The competition consists of a specific challenge that tests each rocket’s abilities. “The goal is to launch an egg to 800 ft, land with the egg intact and within 42 seconds of launch,” Senior Glenn Moore said. 

Team Kugelblitz has been working hard to earn a spot in the finals. “We have been preparing for the past few months, making changes to our current rocket design based off of the data we collect from our launches,” Du said. 

Facing numerous challenges, failures, and rewarding successes in the past two years, Team Kugelblitz has stuck to their team ideology of hard work and persistence. As they continue to innovate model rocketry in our community and beyond, the team sets an example for the future of model rocketry through their new inventive methodology.