November 29, 2023
On Sunday, 5 November 2023, the Mississippi State University Space Cowboys conducted their first hybrid test fire in over six years at the newly built test pad in Starr Forrest just outside of Starkville, MS. This was a procedural test of the contrails hybrid rocket motor and included validating the steps from past experiences and confirming that the systems worked properly.
A hybrid propellent rocket motor uses propellants, with one in the solid and liquid phases. For this rocket engine, nitrous oxide is the liquid oxidizer, and paraffin wax is the solid fuel. Since this was a procedural test, the tank was partially filled with nitrous to reduce risk and maintain low stresses. The successful test lasted approximately six seconds. The test was conducted right before sunset, leading to fantastic views with flames lighting up the test pad as the hybrid engine roared to life.
Dr. Shreyas Narsipur, faculty advisor for the team, explained that “Soon, the Space Cowboys will be test launching their research vehicle using the contrails hybrid rocket motor. Then, starting in the spring semester, the team will focus on manufacturing and test firing Student-Researched-and-Developed (SRAD) hybrid motors using the test stand to fully characterize the custom-developed engine’s thrust behavior.”
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
Edited by Camille Carskadon