Hey, it's been awhile since I've been on the Rocketry Forums, but I was recommended to make a post about what we're doing for NASA's USLI competition.
In case you are unfamiliar with USLI, it is a competition for university teams to design, build and fly a high power rocket to an altitude of one mile. The team also designs and builds a scientific or engineering payload to fly with the launch vehicle. Teams are scored based on a number of criteria, including closest to a mile, payload criteria, launch vehicle criteria, outreach activities, and most importantly, milestone design reviews.
Our team (Iowa State) is doing a controlled descent vehicle, which will eventually be a powered quadcopter helicopter with a controllable camera (GoPro). The nose cone is an acrylic hemispherical dome that the camera is housed in. After apogee, on the way down at 1000 feet the payload deploys with the main parachute. Initially the payload has its own parachute, but if everything looks okay, eventually the payload will be able to release the parachute and fly under helicopter power.
Payload concept animation:
We built our rocket to fly on the largest motor they would let us (We're using an L1115). What an awesome motor!
Last Saturday we drove over to Illinois for our full scale test launch. It went well for the most part. The only major issue was that we *forgot* to use shear pins in the payload, and it deployed at apogee. With, um, 19 mph winds, it recovered 7 miles away! Good thing we had a tracker in it!
The onboard video turned out great. It is surprisingly steady for how windy it is. The only explanation I can think of is that the quadcopter arms sticking out give it a higher moment of inertia, resisting rotation.
At 1080p and full screen it looks the best.
Here is the full video, (including lower quality onboard video):
I will probably post some build pictures on this thread a little later, but otherwise there are some posted on my blog.