Intro to Rocketry Program Lifts Off

Main photo: Intro Airframe members, mentors, and leads at their launch on March 18 in St. Albans, Vermont

The Intro to Rocketry – Airframe program had a successful launch this March in St. Albans, Vermont. Five groups designed, built, tested, and launched their 6-8 foot L2 rockets, with some reaching heights as high as 3600 feet! This launch was the culmination of two semesters of work by about 20 students plus five student mentors as part of Northeastern’s AerospaceNU club. This year featured some of the most advanced rockets Intro has ever built, including features like cameras, custom electronics, and 3D-printed nosecones. Each group was able to see the entire process of how rockets are built and launched, allowing them to take this knowledge and springboard into other projects within the club.

‘Rockatouille’ lifts off the pad at the launch site

From member Jacob Magill, “I love Intro because it allowed me to get introduced to the club and meet people with similar interests as me. Watching the rocket we built launch successfully is a feeling of accomplishment that cannot be replaced and makes me want to keep expanding my knowledge to build bigger and better rockets.”

The Intro to Rocketry program was established in 2020 as a way to introduce students with no prior experience to rocketry and engineering. The program is broken down into different tracks, this year featuring tracks in avionics, propulsion, and airframe. The Intro Airframe track focuses on skills required for the general design and construction of rockets. The airframe of a rocket is the structural skeleton, the outer protective skin that houses the motors, electronics, and payloads.

Intro Airframe’s goal is to introduce students to basic rocket science, software packages commonly used to model and simulate rocket designs, and the general assembly process. Working in groups, students go through the entire rocket-building process, from whiteboard sketch to launch. They learn about all the major systems that make up a rocket, designing and building their group’s own rocket as they go. The experience culminates in a rocket launch mid-spring: students send their rockets soaring!