Building a Solid Rocket Propulsion System

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New Member
Sep 24, 2017
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Hello all,

I am part of a team of engineering students that's looking to build our own solid rocket propulsion system. Our goal is to compete at the Space Port America cup in 2018. We're trying to decide if its at all feasible to build our own motor instead of buying one.
I'm looking for any feedback that would help us get started. Any tips from someone who has built a solid-rocket motor before or anything we should consider? Whats the best way to go about building it? Any resources you would recommend taking a look at?


What experience does your team have in building rockets? Motors? Do you have an experienced mentor that you're working with?

What end goal are you trying to achieve?

What experience does your team have in building rockets? Motors? Do you have an experienced mentor that you're working with?

What end goal are you trying to achieve?

Thanks for the reply!

Our team is fairly new. We competed last year in the 10k category. No one has experience actually building a rocket motor, so we're just trying to decide if its actually feasible to build one or to buy one. We don't have any mentors at this point.
Our goal is to design the rocket to go up to 30,000 feet. By building our own motor it would mean entering into a new category for the competition.
I do not believe it is feasible at your experience level within your time frame. You would need to read at least one book on motor-making, buy a mixer, vacuum pump, casting tubes and liners, chemicals, etc. You would need a test stand to measure thrust, BurnSim software to create a simulation, etc. IMO, best to focus on one goal at a time, in this case, the rocket.

Propellant formulae, etc., can only be discussed on these forums in our restricted Research forum. To gain access, you must be NAR or TRA certified level 2 and a US citizen.
Agreed- without an experienced mentor in making propellant, you will be struggling quite a bit, and also putting yourselves in harms way.

My advice would be to start with a commercial motor, and build an airframe to work. Maximizing altitude to 30k would be a great accomplishment.

Btw- where are you located?
Btw- where are you located?

A very good question, because there are TRA prefectures all over the country with experienced research motor-makers that might enjoy mentoring a college team. Getting hooked up with a club would be very helpful!
That's a very good point. We'll definitely have to look into that.

Thanks for the feedback
Is it legal to bring a non commercial motor across the border?
When LDRS was in Canada we could not take motors north.


I don't believe that anyone could legally bring non-commercial motors into the USA from Canada. Certainly it would not be cost effective. It would be much easier to build a project around a commercial motor available in both the USA and Canada.
He's in Vancouver.

As has been stated, you're wading into a mighty deep pond, son. Best advice is stick to the rocket design and build. Adding motor making to the mix at this point would be... Inadvisable.

Find a rocketry mentor, build something similar to a Mongoose 98, and fly one of the big moon-burners. That will get you north of 30K. Success there would be an accomplishment for a college team, in and of itself.

Good luck, up fast, down slow.
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