Broadcast 1155 (Special Edition)

13 May 2009 Dr. Paul Mueller
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Guests: Dr. Paul Mueller and Matthew Dushku. Topics: Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA), student rocketry, SRB engines and recovery. Dr. Paul Mueller and Matthew Dushku were our guests for this show to discuss the upcoming student rocket competition among six universities for ESRA to be held June 25-26 in Green River, Utah. Find out more about ESRA, their full program, the upcoming competition, and much more at Dr. Mueller began our discussion by providing us with background for ESRA but soon our discussion was in full swing with Matt, Paul, myself and questions from listeners. One topic that was of great interest and kept coming back for more was the idea that students could launch a rocket to 100 km. Both Paul and Matt had much to say about this, why its hard and what the barriers were for students. Interestingly, perhaps the barriers have more to do with how long it might take to accomplish the goal and the funding required than the technology or engineering ability required of the students, especially for grad students. Hybrids were discussed in detail as were solids and liquids. Our guests also talked about biprop rocket engines in response to a listener question. In fact, they look forward this year to having a biprop rocket at their Green River competition. Another topic that was discussed was the use of composite tanks over aluminum. We even found out the judging requirements for the competition because its not based only on the rocket working. Don't miss this discussion. Later in the show when we returned to idea of students sending a rocket to 100 km, we learned about the Procyon university project. So it is being planned and developed! In the last segment, we spent some time talking with Matt specifically about his work with ATK recovering Space Shuttle SRBs and refurbishing the SRB engine. We discussed sea water damage, how the engines are inspected, what is done at the Cape before they are sent by rail back to ATK in Utah and much more. We also talked about the extensive quality control, clean room environments throughout ATK as I was afforded an outstanding tour of the ATK SRB facilities one year when I was at the Small Sat conference. We then discussed the approach to hardware development in this traditional format as compared to what NewSpace is working hard to achieve which is a hardware environment that does not require the high cost procedures and infrastructure now in place for shuttle and related components. I am sure you will find this to be a most interesting discussion with some comparisons and analogies that add to the relevancy of this discussion for each and everyone of us. If you want more information on ESRA or if you want ask a question or offer a comment, you can email Dr. Paul Mueller at Matthew Dushku lists contact information on the ESRA website at If you want to email Matthew, please do so through me at



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