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SARP wins Spaceport America Cup

Amy Sprague
July 1, 2019

students carrying the rocket

A&A’s Skyler DelaTorre and Mechanical Engineering's Holly Gummelt carry the rocket to the launch rail. Photo credit: Jess Grant. 

The Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion (SARP), the UW rocketry club, clinched the top spot as the 2019 Judge's Choice and Overall Winner in the Spaceport America Cup.

The Spaceport America Cup is the world’s largest collegiate rocketry competition, with over 120 teams competing this year in the New Mexico desert outside of Las Cruces. The SARP team spends the entire academic year building a rocket from scratch to compete in this competition.

In addition to its first place overall win, the UW team also scored first in the 30,000 feet, student developed hybrid-liquid propulsion category. The SARP team distinguishes itself by creating a hybrid motor, used by only a few teams due to its complexity in both design and operation.

Why would the team follow this hybrid model? SARP’s Chief Engineer Jess Grant reports, “It is more interesting because of its complexity in building it from scratch, and it produces a safer rocket. These hybrids can sacrifice altitude, but advancing this technology is a lot more rewarding and this hybrid category is the most technically challenging of the competition.”

students working on the rocket

Aqil Khairi, Jimmy Ragan, and Jess Grant complete the rocket assembly the day before launch. Photo credit: Ben Yan. 

SARP, which has grown to around 150 active members, builds heavily off of past SARP designs, iterating on some subsystems and redesigning others. The team is divided into subsystems: structures, avionics, recovery, propulsion, business, and, for the first time this year, payload. While the team has high representation from the aeronautics and astronautics department at the UW, the team also draws from across not only the engineering and STEM departments, but also business and other disciplines.

Grant points out that the approximately 25 students who travel to New Mexico have the privilege of representing this colossal effort of such a great team. Congratulations, SARP!

For further reading, see SARP’s press release and Alan Boyle’s feature in GeekWire.