The rocket you’ve seen in photos isn’t complete. In the weeks since testing, we have received good news regarding our remaining parts. Three main pieces of the rocket remain in fabrication: (1) the nose cone (2) the fins (3) the fuselage.
In order for our rocket to reach the Karman Line, it needs to pierce the atmosphere. A flat top is inconducive to flight, since particles of air would slam into the top of the rocket and slow it down. On the other hand, an inverted cone would shed air particles like a boat’s hull through water.
Our cone, which is being turned out of a titanium sheet, is currently in the final stages of completion. Though we don’t have photos of it, the cone will be ready by next week.
As the rocket goes upwards, a certain amount of spin will be added to its flight. Spin is necessary to guide it in a general upwards direction — a flight without rotation could easily complicate and meander off course. However, since spin requires energy, too much spin can shorten the rocket’s distance traveled. In order to find middle ground, we designed fins to assign a fixed amount of spin.
These fins will live at the bottom of the rocket, 90 degrees from one another, just above the engine. Designed with a very slight tilt, they will ever so slightly nudge the rocket into a slow spin. They were precision-machined for us on a 5-axis CNC machine. (That’s pretty expensive stuff.)
The fuselage, the “skin” of the rocket, is the single largest component. Essentially a really wide pipe, this carbon fiber composite cylinder was designed to slide over the outside of our aluminum air frame. (The air frame can be seen in various photos of our rocket.) Since it is both large and rigid, the fuselage also houses our antenna.
The fuselage runs the entire length of our rocket — from nose cone to fins. It keeps all of the guts of the rocket inside the air frame. Most importantly, it provides a smooth outer surface to reduce vibration and aerodynamic drag.